This article was written by Reverend Manley Beasley, Jr., ABSC President and Senior Pastor of Hot Springs Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
As followers of Christ, one of the greatest spiritual lessons we will ever learn, is that God desires and yes, He expects us to live a life that far exceeds our own abilities, goals, ambitions and even our dreams. His dreams for us are much loftier than those we have for ourselves. We are often confused in that we seek to define our lives in terms more grandiose than the path God chooses. The fact is, success as defined by Scripture always has to do with faith and faithfulness, with our weakness and foolishness in juxtaposition to God’s strength and wisdom.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 records, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.”
God’s Word both enlightens to this truth and compels us from the very beginning of our walk, NOT to depend on our strength but on His. And not only does He reveal the futility of pursuing or pleasing Him with our own plans, goals, ambitions or dreams, He tells us that it is no less than a work of our flesh. This is not a revelation you who are reading, but rather a reminder that God’s call is one that insists that we live beyond ourselves if we are to bring pleasure to Him. While Scripture is literally filled with examples let us examine one simple verse that is both a calling and a command to live a life of faith, a life that reveals we are but vessels containing a priceless treasure.
Phil 4:13: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
The very first phrase — I can do all things, is a promise from God that so few of us believe. In Mark 11:22-24, Jesus introduces us to this audacious faith principle with an unbelievable example. “And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him.” Then He goes on to exhort us to pray in such a way that it reflects our belief in something and someone greater than, bigger than, and stronger than ourselves.
Left alone it is incomplete. It is only part of the story. The next two words are at the root of this promise. Without Him, there is no believable promise. The fact is I can do nothing without Him. Paul goes on to say, I can do all things “through Him”. The word for all things means both anything and everything, but the only way this is true is if it is through Him. I can do all things, but I can only do all things through Him. In other words, for it to be in me or through me, it must be through Him. Romans 11:36, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. I like the way Bill Stafford said it, “He is my source, He is my course, and He is my force.”
We know that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. But what are the limitations? It is certainly not His strength that is limited. Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church…. Trying to define His strength is beyond what we can ask or think and yet it is THAT very power that works within us.
So, if we can do all things through Him, and His strength has no limits, then to live according to our strength, our goals, our own plans is not only a lack of faith but an act of disobedience. So, then what is the condition upon which our faith rests? Romans 10:17,”So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” The Word of God speaks, leading us to do what we cannot do, but by faith we say yes. And suddenly we find ourselves Living a Life Beyond our Limitations, which is in fact what Scripture calls a life of faith. Hebrews 11:32-39, “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, gained approval through their faith…”
May I suggest that by faith, we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.