But Christ is all, and in all. — Colossians 3:11
THE great concernment of lost creatures is, above all things, to mind salvation. This is “the one thing needful;” this should be the great inquiry; (Luke 10:42; Acts 16:30;) and in the neglect of this, all our other endeavours are no better than laborious trifles. The great danger which even they are in who seriously mind salvation, is, lest they build upon some sandy foundation, seeking heaven in those ways which lead not thither. The great design of Satan is, either to detain poor undone creatures in a total neglect of salvation, or to deceive them in the way and means thereof. It is therefore the great care of the apostle, as in other scriptures, so in this, not only to undeceive the world as to those mistakes which prevailed then, but to point out the right, the proper, the only sure, way of salvation; namely, through Christ, whom he here declares to be so complete a Saviour, that, as we have “none other,” (Acts 4:12,) so we need none other, because “Christ is all.”
In the former part of the verse, the apostle shows the insufficiency of all things on this side Christ, to commend us unto God, or stand us in stead in the matter of salvation; and this be does by removing four mistakes at that time common:
1. The mistake of the Jews; who prided themselves in a genealogical kind of sanctity, as being the seed of Abraham. This they account so great a matter, that they cannot be persuaded it could go otherwise than well with them. Let the messengers of God tell them their sins, warn them of their dangers; yet they shelter themselves under this privilege, as that which would be a sufficient bulwark against all kind of threats and comminations; and though John the Baptist in his time, (Matt. 3:9,) our Saviour in his time, (John 8:39, 44,) and the apostles in theirs, do all concur in taking them off from leaning upon this broken reed; yet will they not be beaten out of these strong-holds. Time was, indeed, when “salvation was of the Jews;” but, that wall of partition being now taken down, and the pale of the church so far enlarged as to take-in both Jew and Gentile, (Acts 10:34, 35,) no national privilege can now commend us unto God; nor can a succession of Abraham “according to the flesh” avail us, unless we succeed him in his faith.
2. The mistake of the circumcised, whether Jews or proselytes; who, because they had this badge of religion upon them, concluded themselves in a priority for heaven, before all the world besides. But however time was when circumcision was an ordinance of that necessity, that the Lord threatens to punish the neglect thereof, by cutting off that soul from among his people; (Gen. 17:14;) yet was it not the outward but spiritual part God accounted of. The apostle, in excluding this, excludes all outward religious observations; (Rom. 2:29;) as Davenant in loc.*
3. The mistake of the Grecians; who were at that time the masters of all learning; and all other nations, in contradistinction unto them, were styled Barbarians; and of all Barbarians, the Scythians were esteemed the rudest. But whatever worth and excellency may be in human accomplishments; yet all these, in the business of salvation, are but poor matters. It is neither the having nor wanting of these that can considerably advantage or prejudice us in that high concernment.
4. The common mistake of the world; who from their rank and quality in the world are ready to promise themselves a more easy acceptance with God. (1 Cor. 1:26, 27.) But “God is no respecter of persons;” (Acts 10:34;) he looks upon the children of men with another kind of eye than man is used to do. (1 Sam. 16:7.) Whether our outward condition be high or mean, there is nothing of privilege or disadvantage from hence, in respect of salvation.