“I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHICH STRENGTHENETH ME”
Did you ever try with all your strength for days to do a certain thing and utterly fail? You tried so persistently that you became mentally and physically exhausted to such extent that your hope fainted? If so, you know what I have gone through in an attempt to write an editorial. I concluded this morning that it had been proved I am a miserable failure and all my exercises of preaching, praying, singing, writing and conversation with saints were vain imaginations and hypocritical actions which had come to an end! The fact that I had failed in this attempt climaxed the proof. Deep, grievous, heart-searching meditations proved that I did not have one qualification that I had been called into this work! No one has ever been so weak as I! Then, as lightning suddenly flashes into darkness, came these startling words, “When I am weak, then am I strong, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” The words of Christ followed, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” This soothed my aching heart and calmed my troubled breast. It need be that I be shown many times “That the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matt. 11:5). It does no suffice just to tell the children of God these things. They must be shown again and again. They must experience it time after time.
I cannot see when left to my own natural resources. When Christ opens my blind eyes and give me spiritual sight then I can see. The fact that I can see now does not suffice for tomorrow. Today, I may see that all things work together for good including my troubles and trials. Tomorrow, I may be persuaded that all things are against me. Yesterday, I was persuaded that my entire life had been wasted, all my efforts useless, and that it would have been better had I never been born into this natural world. Today there is new light to lighten my pathway so that I have hopes for the morrow. I trust Christ has opened my eyes to see that God has provided for me all through my life, sustained me with His grace, and will not let me fall finally away; but will uphold me with His hand through the severest of trials and finally raise me triumph and over it all through Christ which strengtheneth me.
I cannot walk upon volition of my own will, by my own ability but must realize that I am lame. I must be shown that the lame walk through Christ which strengtheneth. “I can walk through Christ which strengtheneth me.” “A man’s heart deviseth his way but the Lord directeth his steps,” is not learned by reading the sixteenth chapter of Proverbs, but by actual experience. When the strength of Christ is imputed to the individual he is not lame but strong in the Lord, walking, taking the steps that God directs certainly and steadily. His strength is not somewhere afar off, just being accredited to our account, but it is imputed to us, strengthening us to walk in paths of righteousness. He has placed our feet upon the rock and established our goings. We are far from sitting on the stool of “do nothing” when we are blessed to be in this state. We are walking in His steps. We suffer, become humble, believe, confess, pray, repent, love, and hope through Christ which strengtheneth us. I can do the seemingly impossible through this strength which is imputed to me.
A few months ago, I was deeply impressed to accompany Elder Rhodes on a tour west to visit Elder T.R. Jefferson and wife and the brethren in Washington, Oregon and California. I was unable financially, physically, and in every other way to make the venture. It seemed as though I was pressed against a wall that could not be pierced. I was so depressed and everything looked so gloomy that I said to my wife before leaving, “Dessie Mae, let us ask Elder Rhodes to pray for us.” We knelt in our home and Elder Rhodes was wonderfully inspired to pray God to divinely strengthen, direct and protect us on this trip. While he was praying the wall disappeared, my troubled breast was calmed, and I was strengthened to such extent that I enjoyed that trip as much as any other venture I had ever made. I have gone into the sacred stand many times trembling because I was so weak, being void of spiritual thoughts, that I could not see how I could speak intelligently on anything. My mind would be so confused that I would think it impossible to have connected thoughts on any subject. I verily believe the mind of Christ has been imputed to me on such occasions that the meditations of the mind and the flow of words came calmly and fluently with all ease. “I can preach through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Some time ago a church called me to serve it in the capacity of pastor. The first thought came into my mind and I expressed it thus: “I cannot serve you.” A thought followed and I expressed it also, “I can serve you as pastor through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Is it not a wonderful, mysterious thought that it is the blind who are blessed to see; the lame are blessed to walk; the unclean are cleansed; the dead are raised; the deaf hear, and the poor have the gospel preached to them? Jesus performed all these natural miracles here while in this world as types of miracles more sublime. The imputation of His spiritual strength by His Word is much more sublime! “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”; says Jesus as recorded in St. John 6:63. When Jesus speaks directly to you it enlivens you because He imparts to you His Spirit and life. It works in you both to will and to do. It is Christ in you who walks.
A sister, whom I was blessed to baptize in the state of Washington, wrote me an inquiry on the subject of predestination relative to the objection that it tends to suppress action. The fact that some who professed to believe in the doctrine of predestination were at ease, being content to sit on the “do-nothing” stool, justifying their inactivity upon this point of doctrine, disturbed her because of her Impelling desire to study the Scriptures and tread the steps of the faithful. I quote a part of my reply.
“Did you know that the idea of predestination has spurred people to action in the face of many difficulties?” Instead of causing them to be content to sit on the stool of ‘do-nothing’ it has rather encouraged them to persevere to action to make their desires a reality. You feel impressed to do something, you feel this impression is from God, you undertake it with the thought that you can because God has predetermined that you should do it regardless of so many obstacles that seem to be in the way. You are impressed that God is for you and nothing can be against you. If God be for you, you will realize your ambitions. Your desires and your actions are as much predestinated as your home in heaven as one of God’s elect family. In Romans eighth chapter, the thought expressed is that God has predestinated us to conform to the image of Jesus. He does this partly in this life by conforming our desires and characteristics of the inner man to that of Jesus. He will perfect it in the resurrection when the outer man will be adopted into the family by the immortalization of the mortal body. May I add, this conforming to the image of Jesus is the imputation of His strength to us.
When our natural thoughts are brought to a state of confusion and vanity, it is an appropriate moment for Christ to strengthen us by imputing His thoughts to us. When this is done, our thoughts are conformed to the image of Christ; our minds are upon godly things. Our desires are for a closer walk with Him. I can think through Christ which strengtheneth me. These thoughts are sublime. These thoughts conform the will to the will of Christ because this will is worked in us. I can will through Christ which strengtheneth me.
God’s people must learn by sad experience that the will alone is not sufficient. If you read the account of Peter’s denial of Christ, you will find that he had to be converted to this fact. You must be converted in the same manner of Peter’s conversion. Did you ever have a godly desire and find that all your efforts were unsuccessful and vain? Were you ever fully persuaded in mind to do something that would be becoming to a child of God and then have your thoughts entirely changed so that instead of doing that which you were impressed to do, you did the opposite? My experience is such so much of the time, that I have been made to know many times the necessity of the do being worked also. Many times I can say with Paul, “To will is present with me but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Do you know why Paul said this? He had searched and tried all of his resources and all of them had failed. All our resources must be tried out and proved as vain before Christ imputes His strength unto us. When He imputes His strength is when I can truly say from the heart, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
It is Christ who strengthens the weak hands, confirms the feeble knees, and says to them of a fearful heart, “Be strong, fear not.” He says to the fearful, “Fear not.” He makes the lame to leap as an hart and the tongue of the dumb to sing. (See Isaiah 35). If Christ be speaking through me, then I can say to you as the writer to the Hebrews said, “Lift up the hands which hang down. and the feeble knees. Make straight paths for your feet.”You can lift up the hands that hang down, confirm the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, when Christ imputes His strength to you. I have often been so low and discouraged that I could not go on. A brother would notice me when in this condition. He would say comforting words of kindness and encouragement to me and I would be immediately strengthened. My hands would be lifted up and my feeble knees confirmed by these words of my brother. Could it have been Christ in my brother speaking to me? The words of Christ are spirit and life. The words of Christ are strengthening. I have been persuaded that Christ speaks often to me through my brethren because of the strength that has been imputed to me while under the influence of these words.
Have you ever visited the sick and seen their countenance brighten when you enter the room? Have you ever visited people and hear them say so enthusiastically, “I am so glad you came, your visit has meant so much to me”?You have administered to those who were in need and have witnessed their being strengthened by this ministration. They have seemed to want to give you the praise for it and you have conscientiously told them that no praise was due you and advised them to thank God for any benefit they had received. Your kindness indeed strengthened them and the appreciation manifested by them strengthened you. “I can strengthen others through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
David prayed, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, uphold me with thy free spirit; then, will I teach transgressors thy war, and sinners shall be converted unto Thee” (Psalms 51: 12,13). One great epoch in my experience came to me while being enhanced by the preaching of an elder who was blessed to teach me how mercy could be given and justice satisfied. One of the qualifications of an elder is “apt to teach.” If there be no evidence that God’s little children have been taught through a man’s preaching, I am persuaded, that the man ought not to be ordained as an elder because he is lacking in qualifications. Paul was blessed to “teach in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17). Paul taught Timothy, his son in the ministry. He commanded Timothy to “Command and teach.” “I can teach through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I have been encouraged by many who have come to me and convinced me that many questions had been cleared up through my preaching. Does this have a tendency to exalt me in my estimation of myself? No! No! No! It humbles me instead. The thought that God has graced me, who am less than the least of all saints,” with such ministration, causes me to realize more fully my littleness and dependence upon Him.
I have heard brethren discourage others from expressing to a minister their appreciation and enjoyment of his sermon on the basis that “It might puff him up.” If such would “puff” one up, it would be better for the church to “puff’ him up until he burst. I say, give vent to your feelings. If you have profited In a sermon and enjoyed it, express your sentiments to the speaker. Many of God’s ministers, who grope along, battling with many doubts concerning their call into this position, have been strengthened by words of encouragement from the hearers. You, no doubt, have felt impressed to go to your pastor and let him know how much you appreciate his efforts in visiting, preaching, advising, praying, laboring for unity and peace among brethren, and his readiness in administering in all other duties of a pastor. You may have failed to do this, excusing yourself with the thought, “What I may say to him would be of no benefit.” Your pastor is your servant. A servant is always benefited and strengthened by kindness of his master. A true pastor considers himself less than the least; thus, esteeming the least as greater than he. He sees Jesus in you but cannot see Him in himself. I can strengthen my pastor through Christ which strengtheneth me.
It pleased God to give us each other. The words that we speak and the things we do have their effect upon each other. Words and deeds are not without effect. They either discourage or encourage, please or displease, lift up or cast down, yea, weaken or strengthen. Jesus said, “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, It were better for him that a millstone be hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6) May we be given to pray God that we be strengthened in conversation and deed that we may say appropriate words and do the things that are becoming to God’s little children lest we offend one another. May we be strengthened to give thanks unto God for each other. Paul was bound to give thanks unto God for his brethren. My brethren means so much to me. I have been made to thank God for their “labor of love” seeing their labor is stimulated by love instead of hope for reward. The doctrine John talked about was the doctrine of love. The commandment received by the direct operation of the Spirit of God is love Him and love one another. This commandment comes to us by the imputing of Christ’s love into our hearts. When we are strengthened by the love of Christ we can love Him and our brethren. I can thank God for my brethren and love them through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Space will not permit us to write upon the many other things that have come into our mind relative to this great text. I trust God will strengthen the reader to enlarge upon these gleanings with many precious thoughts of Christ and His Imputed strength unto us. Bear in mind that It is the weak who are strengthened by Christ. If we felt we had the ability to perform anything of ourselves we would not feel the need of the strength of Christ for this thing. If we felt we could do one thing without Christ then we would be strong enough that the language of Paul as expressed in the title of this article could not apply to us for we would have to say, “One thing I can do of myself but can do all other things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Realizing my weakness to so great extent that I cannot do just one thing godly of myself, then I must depend upon Christ’s strength to perform all things. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Elder E.J. Lambert
“Tried In The Furnace”
Signs of the Times
Volume 164, No. 2