I Can Do All Things Through Christ

Published: 01st July 2009
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The passage written by the apostle Paul and found in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," (NKJV) is a verse I became very familiar with when our young son entered kindergarten many years ago. Tears and fear is what we had on a regular basis that first year. It tears a Dad and Mom's heart out to send them off into what is for them the dark terrifying unknown when as they leave the house it is all they can do to keep from crying. Night after night at bedtime I would go back and the two of us, my son and I, would set there and talk about this verse and it seemed to calm his fears after a while as we would talk.

Is that the way God strengthens us? I have little doubt that there is strength in the word of God - power to strengthen not only a babe but people of all ages. If we will only hear the word and believe it with conviction of heart we will find the power to overcome.

What is there in faith that gives strength? The writer of the book of Hebrews says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1 ESV) It is assurance, it is conviction, that God will be with me and that I can through his power do this thing (for if he is with me he will grant me power - strength to do it). Faith believes his promise.

This Greek word translated into English by the word "assurance" or the phrase "being sure" (Hebrews 11:1) or words to that affect is used in 4 other places in the New Testament where in 3 out of the 4 instances it is translated by the English word "confidence" or words to that affect. You will find those passages in 2 Cor. 9:4, 2 Cor. 11:17, and Heb. 3:14. Thus faith builds confidence giving us strength for faith is confidence and is assurance. It casts aside doubt and fear.

What is that promise that we can have faith in as it relates to our study? Is it not "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?" Certainly, it is. That passage was given by inspiration of God as is all scripture. (2 Tim. 3:16) Paul did not need to tell us how strong he was through Christ but he did need to tell us how strong we can be. If he could be then so can we and we needed to know that and inspiration knew we needed to know.

Paul said elsewhere (Rom. 10:17), "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (NKJV) John then says in 1 John 5:4, "And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith." (NKJV) There is power in faith to not only overcome the temptations of the world but power to climb our own personal mountains, mountains so high and so steep as to seem to be impossible. But, Jesus tells us all things are possible "with God." (Matt. 19:26 NKJV)

"The word of God is living and powerful." (Heb. 4:12 NKJV) It has caused people to repent of their sinful lives and make a 180 degree turn in their lives. There were 3,000 who repented the very first day the gospel of Christ was preached. (Acts 2) One cannot separate power from God's word nor can one separate God from his word. The word has the power it does because it is his word, not mine nor yours. There is power in that word to create faith and thus change lives as well as give strength to them.

When Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," (Philippians 4:13 NKJV) he was both speaking by inspiration and by personal experience. What kind of things had he done or endured by means of the strength given by Christ? In 2 Cor. 11, which my reference Bible says was written before the book of Philippians, Paul says he had been "in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often." (verse 23 NKJV)

He then goes on and says, "From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." (2 Cor. 11:24-27 NKJV)

And, yet, at the time of this writing there was more to come for we know he eventually was imprisoned and executed and who can say how much more he had to endure before that? How did he do it? Well, he tells us. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

Paul was able to endure by faith, by faith in the word of God for without that word there can be no faith. Had Jesus merely appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus and not spoken all Paul would have know was that he had experienced a vision of a heavenly being. Paul did not know who this was who spoke to him for he says, "Who are You, Lord?" (Acts 9:5 NKJV)

Without word from Jesus (although Paul did not know that this was Jesus until Jesus told him) Saul might well have left thinking he was being punished by the loss of his sight for not doing enough to destroy Christianity for remember Paul was thoroughly convinced that the course of action he had been pursuing was the course God would have him pursue.

The only point I am trying to make is that it was necessary that Jesus speak. Words were essential to communication, to understanding, essential to the development of faith in Paul and the same is true for us today. Where the word of God has not gone there is not and cannot be faith in Jesus Christ.

So we see when all things are placed in proper order we have Jesus first, then his word, then faith, then power (the strengthening) and these are tied so closely together that they are like links in a chain. Which one could you remove without destroying the chain?

There was power enough in the words Jesus spoke to change Saul's life for Saul was now to become Paul, Paul the apostle. If there was ever a man with greater faith found in the New Testament I do not know who it would have been. I do not say others lacked faith but only that I do not believe any had more than Paul. His faith was so strong that when he said he could do all things through Christ it was a proven fact as shown by the things the things he was able to suffer through and endure. In fact, the book of Philippians in which we find this famous passage is one of Paul's prison epistles. Thus as he wrote he was in the very act of doing all things through Christ who strengthened him.

Briefly, I want to mention the faith and the strength given by faith in Jesus by one not mentioned in the pages of the New Testament but whose faith is recorded in history. I speak of Polycarp. Polycarp lived in the next generation after the apostles and because of his faith and refusal to renounce it by burning incense to the Roman Emperor, for he was given the chance to spare his life by doing so, was burned alive at the stake. He is quoted as having said, "How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior? Bring forth what thou will." He exemplified Paul's statement, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

I would like to mention one other matter Paul had to endure that would have required faith to have made it. When imprisoned in Rome he wrote Timothy and said, "at my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me." (2 Tim. 4:16-17 NKJV) It is awfully painful when those you love and trust deserts you. It breaks the heart.

The Hebrew writer tells us God has given us another promise. He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Heb. 13:5 NKJV) In the life of all of us there are going to be hard times. Suffering, pain, sorrow, and death trail after us like a bloodhound on our track chasing after us. We lose jobs, we lose loved ones, we lose health, and maybe someday we are left alone in a nursing home to await death with no one seeming to care. What are we going to do? How are we to survive? There is only one answer.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." So it is from childhood to death it is "Christ who strengthens me." As Paul said, "the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God." (Gal. 2:20 NKJV) Have faith and be strengthened by it. Believe what God has told you with all your heart. As a child of God you can do all things who through Christ who will strengthen you.

Visit Denny Smith's web site to read more of his articles and also listen to over 110 audio sermons on many different subjects from "Where Are the Dead?" to "The Weaver's Shuttle," to "What Must I Do To Be Saved?" The audio sermons are by a good friend of his, Waymon Swain. Why not visit his site now dennysmith.net? You are sure to find a sermon topic or article of interest.

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