We live our lives day by day. We experience joys and sorrows; and much in-between. Most of the time, perhaps, we do not give much thought to who we are or what we do—we are too busy just “living” to reflect on the nature of our lives.
We are Christians. So we realize we have been given God’s grace and blessings. When we pause to reflect, we recognize all this comes to us in many ways.
But do we realize the Apostle Paul spoke even more widely about our blessings and what is ours as disciples of Jesus Christ and as the children of God? Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God” (1 Cor. 3:21-23). This is an astounding vision, isn’t it? Imagine: “All things are yours…”!
The Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson (c. 1620-1686), wrote about these verses in his A Christian’s Charter, Shewing the Privileges of a Believer. 1 Watson said this verse means that “all things in heaven and earth are the portion and prerogative of a believer” (6). He cited Revelation 21:7: “Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”
Watson spoke of God’s covenant of grace as “our Great Charter” through which God gives us all things in heaven and on earth—after we, as humans, have forfeited all because of our sin. We have turned away from God’s goodness and followed our own ways in rejecting God. But God comes to us in God’s covenant of grace—reaching out to us in love, mercy, and promises—giving us God’s own self, to restore the relationship with God which our sin had ruptured. Said Watson: “If God be ours, then all things are ours” (7-8).
Watson said all things are ours as believers because “Jesus Christ is ours.” Jesus Christ is “the pillar and hinge upon which the Covenant of Grace turns” (10). For “the Covenant is founded upon Christ, and is sealed in his blood.” Paul continued and said that all things: “life or death or the present or the future”—all belong to you, “and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.” Because of this “golden chain”—of all times and all things—Watson said, “we have a title to all things” (11).
What does this mean for us?
Watson went on to discuss the meaning of “all things are yours.” He said things that are particularly helpful to us as we consider who we are as Christians, living in this world, day by day. Watson made three points: Remission of our Sin; Regeneration of our Nature; and the Adoption of our person (41).
Remission of our Sin. “All things are yours” means our sin is forgiven. To forgive sins is the work of God: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7). God forgives—and does so through Jesus Christ, who died so our sin can be forgiven (Rom. 5:8). Christ’s death is the cost of our forgiveness.
God forgives our sins through Christ, giving us the greatest mercy! As Watson said: “Of all the debts we owe, our sinnes are the worst.” Now these are “cancelled” and we can “hear God whisper by his Spirit”: “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven” (Matt. 9:2). God says, “I will not blot thy name out of my book, but I will blot thy sinnes out of my book.” This, said Watson, is “a mercy of the first magnitude” (43). Our sin is forgiven!
How do we know this privilege of forgiven sin is ours? Watson said three things. When our sin is forgiven:
1) We will be “a weeping sinner.” For never did any person receive God’s pardon “with dry eyes” (45). The woman whose sins Jesus forgave “stood behind him at his feet, weeping” (Luke 7:38). Do we weep in gratitude for our forgiveness?
2) Our “hearts burn in a flame of love” (47). Jesus said of the woman he forgave: “she has shown great love” (Luke 7:47). She responded in love because Jesus showed love for her—not condemning her; but expressing forgiveness. As Watson said, “The law hath a driving power, but love hath a drawing power.” Do we show “a flame of love” in gratitude for our forgiveness?
3) We are “willing to pardon others” (47). We forbear and forgive those who have offended us. As Paul urged: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). When we have tasted God’s pardon of our sins; we forgive those who sin against us. Do we?
Regeneration of our Nature. “All things are yours” brings us the regeneration of our nature. This means “nothing else but the transforming of the heart, and casting it into a new mould” (48). Said Paul: “be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Rom. 12:2). Watson said, “Christ did assume our human nature, and in Regeneration, we partake of his divine nature” (49).
Our whole selves participate in regeneration. All our capacities—heart, soul, body, intellect, hear, will—become transformed. Our whole nature becomes new so we can live, now, as God desires. In Scripture, regeneration is sometimes called the “new birth” (John 3:3) since we are now fed by God’s “word of truth” (James 1:18). Regeneration is our “new creation” (Gal. 6:15), “not in substance, but in quality,” said Watson (49). The promise to Ezekiel comes to us: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you” (Ezek. 36:26). Picturesquely, Watson wrote: “The new creature is a new Paradise set full of heavenly plants” (51).
Adoption of our Person. “All things are yours” blesses us by the adoption of our person. For God has “destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1:5). Adoption into the family of God tells us who we are; and whose we are!
Watson said Adoption consists of three things: A change of family; a good-bye to the old family; and receiving the privileges of the new family.
1) Change of family. When we are united by faith with Jesus Christ and are a new person in him, we are safe from destruction and condemnation of our sin: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). As Watson put it: “A Believer is out of the power of damnation” (54). We have a change of family. For God has “called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). “As a plant must be taken out of one soil and put into another, else it cannot properly be said to be transplanted,” said Watson, so one who is adopted “is taken out of the old family” of sin and Satan and condemnation (Eph. 2:2-3) and are “made of the family of heaven” (53). As Paul said, “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). God is our Father, Christ our Elder Brother, the Saints Co-heirs, the Angels Fellow-servants of that family (53).
2) Good-bye to the old family. As new persons in the family of God in Jesus Christ, we are to have nothing to do with sin and the practices of the old life—the life of sin and selfishiness. A “child of God,” said Watson, “hath indeed to do with sin as with an enemy, to which he gives [battle], but not as with a Lord to which he yields obedience” (53). In our new life in Christ, we strive against sin and strive to live as the adopted children of God, following God’s way and will.
3) Receiving the privileges of the new family. Now, we “receive all the rights and privileges of the family into which the person is adopted” (54). One of these privileges, says Watson, is to receive all God’s promises (56). He wrote: “There is never a promise in the Bible, but a childe of God may say, this is mine: therefore they are called the heirs of the promise” (Heb. 6:17). There is the promise of blotting out sin (Isa. 43:25); the promise of healing (Hosea 14:4); the promise of strength (Isa. 41:10). “And the adopted person,” said Watson, “may apply any of these promises. There is Christ and heaven in a promise; now being an heir of the promise, [we] may
lay a legal claim to it” (57). We receive the privileges of our new family: being God’s child and “heirs of the promise”!
In our day to day lives as Christians, we can take comfort and joy in who we are and what we have received as believers. Our sin is forgiven; we have a new nature in Jesus Christ; we are adopted children of God! We can face life secure in our identity and that we are united with God in Christ in a bond that nothing can break. No matter what our “day to day” life brings, we live in the promise: “for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith” (Gal. 3:26). Rejoice—ever and always! Know that “all things are yours”!
Dr. Donald K. McKim is an Honorably Retired minister of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and lives with his wife, LindaJo, in Germantown, Tennessee.
Some of his publications include: (with Jim West), Heinrich Bullinger: An Introduction to His Life and Theology (Wipf & Stock, 2022); Everyday Prayer with the Puritans (P&R, 2021); Everyday Prayer with the Reformers
(P&R, 2020); Living into Lent, new edition (Westminster John Knox Press, 2020); Everyday Prayer with John Calvin (P&R, 2019). Several of his other articles can also be found at The Presbyterian Outlook