“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 3:22-23
Christians are on polar, erroneous extremes concerning the gifts of God to his children – the Church. Hence, the Lord through the Apostle Paul helps us straighten things up with the above scripture…
The opening text was written to the Corinthians Church to correct their erroneous attitudes and mind-sets concerning the ministers of God. Then eventually it was expounded to include every other God’s providence.
And incidentally, these same erroneous attitude and mind-sets concerning God’s gift to his children—the Church—lingers till date all over the world among believers. As a matter of fact, it has even grown worse among many contemporary Christians.
Hence, in this article, we want to critically analyse the above opening text, in order to straighten up these erroneous mind-sets and attitudes towards God’s gracious and benevolent providence for his heirs—The Church.
Understanding Divine Heritage
“Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a Son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ”—Galatians 4:7
The word ‘heir’ as used in the above text, is from the Greek word ‘kleronomos’ meaning—a shearer by lot. That is, ‘an inheritor’. Hence, an heir of God is an inheritor of divine creations and providence.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the principal heir of God and all things the Father owns have been given unto him (see John 13:3). And they were given unto him for us as his joint heir by adoption…
Hence, all that Jesus possesses or owns are for us believers—for life and godliness (2 Peter1:3). And yes, we have access to most of these providence here and now for life and godliness. And our opening text gives credence to this fact (1Corinthians 3:22-23).
The word of God says, “all are yours”. That is, us as believers. Not some believers. So let’s consider these our heritage in Christ in a little more detail for better understanding.
Believers’ Divine Providence
From our opening text (1 Corinthians 3:22-23), the list below are the gracious gifts of God to everyone believer in Christ Jesus.
- The Ministry Gifts: The word of God in our opening text tells us that every Ministers of the gospel are the privileged heritage of every believer in Christ Jesus. That is: the Apostles, the Prophets, the Pastors, the Teachers, Evangelists, etc. And as such, they are not to be idolised by any believer.They do owe God an obligation to minister to every believer within their means and gifts. Hence, they do not have any scriptural reason to refuse ministering to any believer or charging for their ministries.Then on the other hand, the believers also owe them care, honour and respect as authoritative servants and gifts of God to them. As they minister spiritual things to us, it’s our obligation to also minister materially to them (1 Corinthians 9:11). Then we also need to pray for them.
- The World: Our opening text also tells us that the World (kosmos) is ours. That is, the universe and every of God’s creation in it—including the inhabitants—are the believers’ heritage in Christ Jesus. And the implication of this is that we are the caretakers and role-model or pace-setters of the World.
Thus, everything that affects the world, locally and globally should concern us. And of course, it’s our responsibility to influence the world positively for Christ…
And we do that through our faith, prayer, love, godliness and gospel of Christ.
Yes, we are not of the world (The perverse and immoral world) but we own the world (The utopian, created world of God). We are not to love (or idolize) the world or the things in it (lust and pride). But we are to care for and influence it positively for God. Hence, the word of God says, we are the light and salt of the world (Matth 5:13-14)
- Life: Another believers’ heritage, the opening verse reveals to us, is life (Zoe). That is, God’s kind of life—eternal life. So eternal life is a present and active possession of the believer. And the believer can as well minister this eternal life to others through the gospel, faith and prayers.
- Death: Death here talks about physical death. Not spiritual death. This talks about bodily death. So the opening verse tells us that death is a providence or gift to the believer. Whether it is martyrdom or any other kind of physical death, it is a gracious providence of God to the believer.
Death is the passage way of the believer to the world of glory and bliss in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Then at the same time, the believer has the authority to resist and rebuke death in his life and that of others until their appointed time. When their assignments here on earth are over, and Jesus still tarries his coming; they can ride on the wings of death to the land of glory.
- Things Present: The opening text also tells us that the present things of this world are also the gifts or possessions of believers. And they are for the believers’ Life and godliness. Whether it is spiritual gifts or material gifts. Seasonal suffering or adversity; or persecution in the present life here on earth… they are ours for life and godliness.
- Things to Come: Finally, on the list of the believers’ providence or heritage, the word of God says, things to come are ours. Things to come, such as the New World—New Jerusalem. The crown and tree of life. The streets of gold. Glorious and shiny body, all are for us. And eventually, the text concludes by reminding us that we are Christ’s and that Christ is God’s.
So here you have it. The word God of God says ‘all are yours’. And you must accept all of them as a blessed gift from a loving God and Father. You are not to idolize any of them. Neither do you have to accept some and leave some on the table.
Either extreme is rebellion to God. They are yours—but they shouldn’t be idolised or abused. And at the same time, we shouldn’t call unclean the gifts of our benevolent Father because of abuse. Instead, we should receive them all with thanksgiving; and use them for their purposes. Which are life and godliness.