Back to Octavius Winslow Index
Christ, the Mighty God
by Octavius Winslow
"His name shall be called... the mighty God." Isaiah 9:6.
How richly accumulative and conclusive, as we proceed in our study of the titles of Christ, are the evidences which they afford, to the cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith -His essential deity. So true is that doctrine, and so interwoven with the entire structure of the Bible, it confronts us at every turn, and crosses our path at every step in our research into the untold wealth of this sacred volume, each new evidence yet stronger than the last, and all combining to confirm our faith in a truth, apart from which we cannot possibly be saved.
This remark may fall with a startling effect on the ears of those who reject the evangelical scheme of the Bible, and who may deem it as savoring both of bigotry and uncharitableness. But the premises in the case force us to this conclusion. If an architect rear an edifice upon an inadequate basis, or if a drowning man repels the spar that floats at his side, or refuses to enter the life-boat launched for his rescue, surely it were no violation either of reason or of charity to affirm that disaster and death will be the natural and inevitable result of so infatuated and suicidal a course. The application of this illustration to the subject before us is perfectly true and simple.
There is- there can be- but one way of salvation for lost sinners. If we have not found, and are not walking in that way, where is then the possibility of being saved? If there is but one road to the great metropolis, and we diverge from it into another and an opposite one, it is no marvel that we never reach it. These simple illustrations of the greatest, the profoundest, the most momentous truth that ever engaged the thoughts of men, address themselves to the simplest understanding.
To present a summary of the essential points involved in the premises- there is but one channel of pardon- the atoning blood of Christ; there is but one way of justification- the imputed righteousness of Christ; there is but one instrument of salvation- faith in Christ. If as a guilty sinner needing forgiveness, if as a condemned sinner needing righteousness, if as a lost sinner needing salvation, I unbelievingly, wilfully, and persistently despise and reject the only Name given under heaven whereby I must be saved, surely to say, in the solemn words of Scripture, "...there is no other sacrifice that will cover these sins. There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible expectation of God's judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies." -is but to speak the words of truth and soberness, and to enunciate a truth than which none more true and solemn was ever uttered.
But the title ascribed by the prophet to Christ, now to be considered, must annihilate the doubt of every candid and ingenuous mind touching this doctrine, so essential to be believed. "His name shall be called... the mighty God.'' Beyond this title of Deity He could not go. A stronger declaration of His divine nature could not be given. Nor is this the only place in which it occurs. Isaiah, in another part of his evangelical prophecy, has these remarkable words uttered by God- "All the world will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel." In the words of the Psalmist, we have the same title ascribed to Christ- "Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever.
Your royal power is expressed in justice." In the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, eighth verse, these identical words are transferred and applied to Christ. Turning to the Book of the Revelation, we find our Lord Jesus appropriating to Himself the same title- "I am the Alpha and the Omega the beginning and the end," says the Lord God. "I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come, the Almighty One." Let us close these passages with one which may justly claim to be regarded the crowning one of all- "Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: God made manifest in the flesh."
I invite the reader, skeptical on this great doctrine of our faith, to a devout and earnest study of these declarations. So forcible and conclusive are they in their bearings upon a tenet which all must believe who are saved, and disbelieving which none can be saved, he who rejects them will be found inexcusable at the Great Day when we must give account to God as much for what we believe as for what we say or do.
There are those who hold themselves irresponsible for their religious creed- but God does not. They reason that they are no more accountable for this than for the hue of their skin or the color of their coat. I trust this flippant argument, popular with a certain class of sceptics at one time, has become too obsolete and exploded to be disinterred from the grave of the past. And yet we meet with much bearing a strong resemblance to it in the skeptical reasoning of the present day.
God has given us a divine revelation of Himself, His mind and will, and of our duty to Him; and, as responsible beings hastening to the treat tribunal, we are bound to believe it. And for our relation to this revelation- whether we receive or reject it– every one of us must give account of himself to God. Oh, deal with this doctrine of Christ's Divinity as one who is to stand in the judgment. It is essential to your eternal happiness that you should so regard it. Your hope of heaven must stand upon a basis equal to its greatness- the atonement of Christ is that basis.
The Atonement must, in its turn, stand upon a foundation equal to its stupendousness- the Deity of Christ is that foundation. "And whoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." Let us devote the remainder of these pages to a few illustrations of Christ's Almightiness, as we find them scattered and glowing like gems upon every page of the New Testament writings.
The first which arrests our attention is our Lord's ALMIGHTINESS IN CREATION. Creation is the highest work of Almightiness. He that creates must be before and above the thing created, and must therefore be uncreated and divine. Now, to create a world, yes, countless worlds- of which this is the least in magnitude, though the most illustrious in history- out of nothing, must have demanded resources that were infinite, and therefore almighty. And yet creation is ascribed to our Savior. Thus– "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." Again- "God, who created all things by Jesus Christ." Thus everything that exists, all material worlds, and all beings, rational and irrational, who inhabit them, are included in this vast creation of Christ. "You, Lord, in the beginning have laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands."
I have remarked that there is no stronger proof of Omnipotence than the power of creation. Hence we find Jehovah so frequently appealing to the creation of the heavens and the earth as distinguishing Him, the only true God, in opposition to the Gods of man's invention and creation. "The Lord is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting king: the Gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish front bite earth." But this creative power is everywhere in the Bible ascribed to Christ, and is an irrefutable evidence of His essential Almightiness.
If any one doubts it, and flippantly affirms that creation were an easy task, within the range of creature power, and is therefore no conclusive evidence of Deity, I challenge the vaunting objector to a practical proof of his argument. Bid him form a blade of grass, pencil a flower, or create an insect, and how blank and confounded will he appear? And yet he dares to pluck this divine pearl from the brow of Jesus, and to trample His crown and trail His glory in the dust. Surely the conclusion which we draw from this statement ought to be sufficiently logical and conclusive to satisfy every inquiring mind that He who bears the title of "The Almighty," is, and must be, essentially Divine.
But a yet greater exercise of the almighty power of the Lord is seen in THE NEW CREATION OF THE SOUL. The creation of this universe, with its countless worlds, were as nothing in comparison with the new birth of the creature man. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;" or a new creation. What an essential and glorious work is this! In what terms can we describe it? The pen of inspiration shall draw the portrait. It is a dead soul made alive, an enemy against God transformed into a son, a slave of Satan translated into a subject of Christ, a child of darkness changed into a child of the light, a guilty and polluted sinner washed whiter than snow.
Surely these emblems will suffice to inspire the mind with a conviction of the necessity, reality, and blessedness of the new creation, the spiritual regeneration of the soul, of which Christ is the divine author. "I have come," says the Savior, "that they might have life." "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live." What a conclusive proof, and what a transcendent display, have we here of the Almightiness of Jesus! His divine image restored, a living temple made, a spiritual house reared, a sinful heart renewed, a new nature implanted, a lost soul saved!
If Almightiness were required to make a world out of nothing, surely to make a new creature, or a new creation, all divine and holy, instinct with life and radiant with beauty, sharing the nature and reflecting the image of God, out of materials all wrecked and ruined, polluted and debased, were a manifestation of Almightiness infinitely distancing and totally eclipsing every other exercise of its creative power. My reader, are you a living witness to the almighty power of Jesus in the new and spiritual creation of your being? Are you born again? Momentous question! Upon its decision is suspended the future destiny of your soul- its endless prosperity or its endless woe, its everlasting bliss or its everlasting punishment.
With interests at stake so precious, with a destiny before you so solemn, postpone not your decision for a single day. One day may decide your future forever. In one moment you may be in eternity! Once lost, is to be forever lost. What words are adequate to describe the importance, to enforce the necessity, or to urge the immediate consideration of seeking a saving knowledge of Christ? True religion is the only thing of vital importance, of real and pressing consequence.
Everything else- the pleasures that delight, the studies that attract, the engagements that absorb, the loves that chain, and the friendships that charm us- are but as the evening shadows dancing upon the wall. True religion is everything. To be prepared to die, to be ready for eternity, to have
made sure of heaven, are the only things worthy the serious and absorbing consideration of a responsible, accountable, and immortal being. How faint and imperfect the idea we form of the appalling agonies of the body and the insufferable anguish of the soul in its state of unceasing woe!
Indeed, I believe that it is not possible to approach anything like a perfect conception of the appalling reality. Around the actuality of the awful condition itself there gathers not the shadow of a shade of doubt. So that while the Bible lifts, as with a reluctant and guarded hand, the awful veil that discloses the terrible and endless sufferings of a lost soul, it makes no concealment whatever of the reality and eternity of the dread fact. The terms employed by the Holy Spirit in the description of the final and endless state of the ungodly, are significantly few, but appallingly impressive.
"For the Lord holds a cup in his hand;
it is full of foaming wine mixed with spices.
He pours the wine out in judgment,
and all the wicked must drink it,
draining it to the dregs." Psalm 75:8.
"Topheth the place of burning has long been ready.... it has been piled high with wood. The breath of the Lord, like fire from a volcano, will set it ablaze." Isaiah 30:33. The sinners among my people shake with fear. "Which one of us," they cry, "can live here in the presence of this all-consuming fire?" Isaiah 33:14.
Turning to the New Testament revelations on this awful subject, we find the terms are singularly measured but appallingly significant- "The worm that never dies." The punishment is eternal- "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." Rev. 20:10. "Then they will go away to eternal punishment." Matthew 25:46. "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Matthew 25:41.
The body suffers- "It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." Matthew 5:29.
The soul suffers- "Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28.
What need we more? Will not these clear and emphatic statements, on the authority of God's revelation, suffice to explode every false view of hell, and answer the argument of the modern errorist alleged against the Scripture doctrine of the existence and eternity of future punishment?
But the next view of our Lord's Almightiness will immensely relieve this dark and terrible picture of future, endless punishment. "MIGHTY TO SAVE," was His own prophetic and gracious announcement. "Who is this who comes from Edom, from the city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red? Who is this in royal robes, marching in the greatness of his strength? It is I, the Lord, announcing your salvation! It is I, the Lord, who is mighty to save!" Isaiah 63:1. It will be thus seen that the power of Christ is on the side of saving mercy.
That, magnificent as is His creative power; His redemptive, saving power- His power to redeem, and freely to save- saving even to the uttermost- is greater and more magnificent still. The work of our salvation was a great, a stupendous work, demanding the utmost resources of Infinity. None but Jehovah could save: "Salvation is of the Lord." If there is any work of God which demonstrates His Deity, it is the work of saving lost man. None but God could or would have embarked in this mighty, this perilous undertaking, of rescuing the sinner, self-destroyed, guilty, and inevitably doomed to everlasting punishment.
But Jesus undertook and girded Himself for the work. It involved the relinquishment of heaven, with all its bliss, its glory, its joy, and His advent to earth, amid all its sin, its suffering, and its woe. No, more, it demanded His personal surrender and sacrifice- the offering up of Himself as an oblation for man to God on the altar of Divine justice. "Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice io God for a sweet-smelling savor."
If the creation of the world demanded the power of the Almighty God, much more its redemption. What was essentially required in the case? The harmony of the Divine attributes, the honor of the Divine government, the vindication of the Divine law, the satisfaction of Divine justice- in a word, the endurance of the wrath of God, and the penalty of a death the most ignominious and painful. But more even than this. There was involved in the accomplishment of the salvation of the Church, the bearing of her sins, the bringing in of a new and an everlasting righteousness, the endurance of the curse, and the full payment of the great debt due to God.
All this demanded the utmost resources of the Deity. There must be Divine wisdom, Divine power, and Divine love. But Jesus was equal to the undertaking, and accomplished it. To almighty God, the salvation of countless myriads, even at such a cost, and by such a sacrifice, was not an impossible thing. To any other and finite being, it would, it must have been, an impossibility. If the Almighty God had not undertaken it, the entire universe of fallen beings must have perished forever. But here was a work worthy of Jesus, worthy of His divine love and infinite power.
It is a glorious work, even for a created being, to save. The highest benefactor, and the truest philanthropist, is he who instrumentally saves a soul from death. To plant a single gem in the Savior's crown; to heighten, by one songster, the hallelujah of the Lamb; to occupy a solitary mansion in the Father's house with a ransomed tenant, oh, it were worth the toil and suffering of a life! What, then, must have been the joy that was set before Him of saving myriads from endless death- of studding the 'many crowns' worn at His appearing with countless jewels- of peopling heaven with the redeemed of earth, and of securing an eternal revenue of glory to His Father, He willingly endured the cross, despising the shame!
Who but the Almighty God could have sustained the burden of all the sins of the elect? have exhausted the curse, have borne the condemnation, and have suffered the penalty, and yet have risen again from the grave? Oh yes, salvation was a mighty work; but Jesus was Almighty to achieve it. God placed our salvation on One that was mighty, strong to deliver, mighty to save. One single sin would have sunk the Church to the bottomless abyss; but Jesus bore all the sins of the whole elect of God; and although the tremendous load crushed His humanity to the death, His Godhead bore Him up, carried Him successfully through, and landed Him safe in heaven, amid the acclaim of angels and the hallelujahs of saints- the suffering and slain VICTIM now the triumphant and enthroned VICTOR over hell, death, and the grave!
In view of this truth, can you for a moment doubt His ability to save you? His power, strange in judgement, is at home in mercy. He loves to exercise it- not to wound, but to heal; not to crush, but to lift up; not to condemn, but to save; not to consign to hell, but to raise the soul from its lowest depths of sin to the highest heaven. Oh, had not love to poor sinners stirred within His breast, He had left them forever to perish. As the Almighty God, He had power to condemn or to save. In exercising that power against the sinner, He had been immaculately holy, unimpeachably just.
But He loved man, He loved His Church; devised and embarked in an expedient by which He could exercise His power on the side of mercy, and yet in harmony with truth; in the interests of grace, and yet in unison with righteousness; for the salvation of sinners, and yet for the glory of God. His power was to save sinners to the uttermost- to save the vilest, the very chief! He is able to save you, O guilt-distressed, sin-burdened soul. He is able to cleanse you from the guilt, to free you from the tyranny, and to save you from the condemnation of all your sins- sins the oldest and the stubbornest– sins of the greatest magnitude and of the deepest dye.
This may be just the perfection of the Savior in which your trembling faith longs to find repose. Your doubt is not concerning His willingness, because you infer that a Savior who could pass through a life of suffering so fearful, and to die a death so ignominious, must be willing to save sinners; but the question with which your hesitating faith grapples is- "Is Jesus able to save so great a sinner as I am? Is His strength equal to His love, His power commensurate with His will?" Read the answer in the name which He bears- "the almighty God," and doubt no longer.
Oh, can your faith, for a moment, stagger at His power to save you, who was wounded for our transgressions, and was bruised for our iniquities; who bore the wrath of God, made a full atonement for our sins, and upon whom God laid the weight of our transgressions, and the burden of His glory? Doubt no longer. Were your sins and guilt ten thousand times heavier and darker than they are, the power of Christ would be Almighty to save you. "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" is the only question He asks, as He stretches forth His hand to uplift your burden, to efface your guilt, and set your sin-bound soul free, and saying to you, "Go in peace, your sins are forgiven."
Because Jesus is the Almighty God, His saints have AN ALMIGHTY BURDEN-BEARER. We are a burdened people; every believer carries a burden peculiar to himself. "Your burden," is the language addressed to each child of God. What is your burden, O believer? Is it indwelling sin, or some natural infirmity of the flesh? Is it a constitutional weakness, or some domestic trial? Is it a personal or relative trial? Is it the loss of property, the decay of health, soul-anxiety, or mental despondency? Come, oppressed and burdened believer, ready to give up all and sink!
Behold Jesus, the Almighty God, omnipotent to transfer your burden to Himself, and give you rest. It is well that you are sensible of the pressure, that you feel your weakness and insufficiency, and that you are brought to the end of all your own power. Now turn to your Almighty Friend, who is the Creator of the ends of the earth, even the everlasting God, who does not faint, neither is weary. How precious is the promise addressed to you! "He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:29-31
Oh, what strength there is in Jesus for the weak, and faint, and drooping of His flock! You are ready to succumb to your foes, and you think the battle of faith is lost. Cheer up! Jesus, your Savior, friend, and brother, is "the Almighty God," and will perfect His strength in your weakness. The battle is not yours but His, and you have no need to fight, but to stand still and see the salvation of God!
As the Almighty God, Christ is able to PRESERVE to eternal salvation all His saints. His power is engaged, as His promise is given, to bring to glory every soul redeemed by His most precious blood. All whom the Father has given to Him, shall come to Him, and not one shall perish. And truly, no power but an Almighty one could keep a single saint from final falling. The best and holiest saint would perish but for the upholding, preserving power of Christ. "Hold me up," is one of the wisest, and should be one of the constant prayers of a saint of God.
David fell, and Solomon fell, and Peter fell, as if to teach the Church in all future ages, that no child of God could keep himself; but that, left to himself, the best of saints would fall into the worst of sins. But not one shall finally perish. They may stumble and fall- fall to the breaking of their bones, and go limping and halting to the grave- nevertheless, the almightiness of Jesus is pledged to restore and finally to bring them safely into the realms of eternal bliss.
How replete with the richest comfort and encouragement are His precious words respecting the sheep of His pasture- "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." John 10:27-29. Will not these divine assurances suffice to dissipate every fear and suspicion you may have as to your final and eternal glory?
You sometimes fear you will one day perish by your enemies, or that, just as your barque nears the port, it will strike upon some quicksand or sunken rock at the bottom of the harbor, and become a stranded and a total wreck. But why reason you thus, and forget that your Redeemer is the Almighty God, and that, by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for Him to lie, His oath is pledged, His promise is given, and His power is engaged, to pilot you safely through, and to give you "an abundant entrance Into the everlasting kingdom of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?" "Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation," the feeblest lamb given to Christ by the Father, and by Him ransomed with atoning blood, and inhabited by the Spirit, shall be brought safe to glory.
Having begun the work of grace in your soul, He has power to complete it. Its beginnings may be small, and its progress slow- but a thought, a sigh, a tear, a prayer only, marked by all the symptoms of extreme feebleness and doubt; nevertheless, it is the first pulse of life, and the first ray of light, and the first spark of love, and the first beam of glory in the soul; and the same Power that called it into being will quicken that pulse, and deepen that ray, and fan that spark, and brighten that beam, until the soul, ready for its ascent, shall hear a voice from the excellent glory, saying, " Come up here;" and then the embryo saint of earth shall become more glorious, and take his place nearer the throne, than the mightiest angel in heaven.
How many and precious the EVIDENCES OF CHRIST'S ALMIGHTINESS which traced His brief but eventful life on earth. What were His works of beneficence, what His miracles of love, what His words of life, what His acts of grace, but proofs of His being the "Almighty God"? "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves." Thus He appealed to His works of power as the credentials of His divinity. And still it is His delight to exercise this power in behalf of His people. Not, indeed, as then, in miraculous agency, but as then in healing our sicknesses, in sustaining our infirmities, in bearing our burdens, in supplying our needs, and in encircling us with the shield of His Almightiness amid the persecutions and assaults of our foes.
What a Divine spring of consolation and strength to the tired and afflicted saint is the Almightiness of Jesus. Your sorrow is too deep, your affliction too heavy, your difficulty too great for any human to resolve. It distances in its intensity and magnitude the sympathy and the power of man. Come, you tossed with tempest and not comforted- come, you whose spirit is wounded, whose heart is broken, whose mind is bowed down to the dust, and hide for a little while within Christ's sheltering Almightiness. Jesus is equal to your condition. His strength is almighty, His love is almighty, His grace is almighty, His sympathy is almighty, His arm is almighty; His resources infinite, fathomless, measureless; and all this Almightiness is on your side, and will bring you through the fire and through the water into a wealthy place.
BLENDED WITH THIS DIVINE ALMIGHTINESS IS THE DEEPEST COMPASSION of His sinless and perfect manhood. Omnipotent to help, He is human to succour; Almighty to rescue, He is your Brother and Friend to sympathize. And while His Divine arm encircles, upholds, and keeps you, His human soul, touched with the feeling of your infirmities, yearns over you with all the deep intensity of its compassionate tenderness. As man, He is mighty; as God, He is Almighty.
"His heart is made of tenderness,
His affections melt with love."
But let not THE UNCONVERTED forget that the power of Christ is on the side of holiness, and against sin. And that, while mercy is its appropriate and delightsome exercise, judgment is equally its righteous and appropriate display. As the Almighty God, He saves; as the Almighty God, He condemns. Beware then rousing the ire of His power, lest He punish your persistent rebellion, impenitence, and sin, exclaiming, "when I sharpen my flashing sword and begin to carry out justice, I will bring vengeance on my enemies and repay those who hate me."
Oh, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, even though He bear the form of a Savior! The wrath of the Lamb is more fierce and terrible than the wrath of the most malignant foe, since it is the wrath of injured love, of despised mercy, of rejected grace. Your only salvation now, as it will be your only hope then, is to lay down the weapons of rebellion, to receive the Savior, and to hide by faith beneath His sheltering cross, yes, within the wounds of His pierced side. Oh to feel embraced- within the arms, and enfolded to the bosom of this Divine, this gracious, this Almighty Redeemer!
"Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Your bosom fly!"
The PRACTICAL BEARINGS of this subject are varied and important. Whether we look at the Church of God, or at the gospel of Christ, the POWER of the Savior finds its appropriate and full scope. It is the great palladium of the Church. Hence, when Jesus was about to invest the apostles with their Great Commission, He prefaced it with these remarkable words, "All Power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore and teach all nations." They were to go forth relying upon His illimitable POWER as the Divine Head and Mediator of His Church, for the strength that should sustain, and for the blessing that should crown their labors. And, oh, how fully and faithfully He made good to the letter His exceeding great and precious promise!
Clothed with this panoply, they traversed the world, everywhere preaching Christ crucified and Christ risen, "The Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." Such is the power upon which we are now to rely in the work of propagating Christ's truth, extending His kingdom, stemming and arresting the flood of error and superstition rushing and surging through the land. The secret of our great strength is not in the orthodoxy of articles, nor in denominational organization, nor in prelatical interference, nor in ecclesiastical courts, nor in human legislation, nor in the learning, or gifts, or piety of Christ's ministers- these are alone but ropes of sand with which to bind the great leviathan of the day.
The secret of our strength is- the power of Christ, the almighty God. Oh, let us take hold of this power in prayer and faith, and we may gaze upon the ark tossed amid the broken waves without a solitary fear. We want stronger faith in, and more incessant dealing with, the almighty power of Jesus. The Lord may have permitted the rapid and alarming progress of the false doctrine and idolatrous worship of the present time, just to teach us how powerless is the human arm to cope with and avert it. And when we hear the cry raised, "We must seek more political power," we lift our voice to Jesus the Almighty God, and earnestly cry, "With God's help we will do mighty things, for He will trample down our foes." "Arise, O Lord, and plead Your own cause."
One way by which the Lord brings us into closer alliance with His power is to REDUCE OUR OWN STRENGTH. He reduced Gideon's great army to three hundred men; removed Saul's ponderous armor from the stripling David; brought Jehoshaphat into great straits; planted a thorn in Paul's flesh- all, all to teach them their own nothingness, and then to perfect His strength in their weakness, and to prove that His grace was sufficient for them. Oh, it is a great though a humbling lesson, against which the flesh resolutely rebels, that of our own weakness, folly, and nothingness. But this lesson must be learned if ever we are brought to realize what the strength and all-sufficiency of Christ is.
The noble and great apostle was willing to learn it in just the self-abasing, self-emptying way the Lord chose. "Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me." Oh let Jesus be exalted and His name magnified, though it be upon the wreck and ruin of our own might, importance, and fame.
And truly, if ever He is exalted and glorified in us, it will be in our nothingness, weakness, and poverty. He will empty us from vessel to vessel if He ever intends to fill us with His grace and power, and use us as instruments in vindicating His honor, in advancing His kingdom, and in defending valiantly and successfully His truth upon the earth. Accept, then, all your self-acquaintance, however humbling; all the discipline of trial and sorrow, however painful; all your frustrated purposes and deranged plans and disappointed hopes, however they may seem to go against you; as the teaching of God designed but to arm you with a power, to clothe you with a strength infinitely above and beyond your own; thus rendering you, a worm of the dust, equal to the accomplishment of any work, and invincible to the assaults of every foe. "As your day, so shall your strength be."
There is one truth connected with our subject fraught with the richest encouragement to God's people. It is this- Christ is so Almighty that He knows how to stoop to, and to sympathize with, the weakest strength of His saints. Listen to His recognition of this- "You have a little strength." Who speaks thus? The almighty God, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. What! does the Almighty One, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, take cognizance of my little strength?
Yes, beloved, He despises not the day of small things, and overlooks not the little strength of His saints, yes, even those who have no might. How should this encourage you to use the little that you have in working out your own salvation, in making your calling and your election sure, and in laborings to bring souls to Christ! Jesus regards with ineffable delight your little faith and love, your little knowledge and experience, your feeble endeavors to serve and honor Him, since that little is the divine fruit of His Spirit, and the free gift of His grace. But do not be content to remain where you are. "Let the weak say I am strong." "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."
All your real power is in Christ. In His strength you can do great things for God, and suffer great things for Jesus. Bring your strong corruptions to His grace, and your little strength to His omnipotence, and your very weakness shall turn to your account by drawing you into a closer alliance with the Lord in whom you have righteousness and strength. Thus you will be taught to understand the apostle's sacred paradox- "When I am weak, then am I strong."
Come, you of fearful heart, of sorrowful spirit, burdened and wounded, and hide beneath the outspread wing of this Almighty Savior. His Omnipotence is engaged to uphold you through the wilderness, to guide you with its counsel, and afterwards to receive you to glory. Consecrate your noblest powers to Him who spreads the shield of His omnipotent power around you.
Battle with sin, mortify the flesh, resist Satan, overcome the world, fight the good fight of faith, and before long you will wear the victor's crown, wave his palm, and chant his song forever! "And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy. All glory to him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to him, in the beginning, now, and forevermore. Amen."
"Though here the storms of sorrow roar,
And raise in cares a troubled sea;
Yet when I land on yonder shore,
There shall he calm enough for me.
Why then for tempests need I care,
Since they but drive me sooner there."