I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
(Text in conjunction with John 15:5.) Two speakers, Divine-human and human. From how different a platform do they speak; one from conscious power to help, the other from conscious need of help. One a great Giver, the other a great receiver. A fine harmony in the two statements. Though Paul's is not quite so universal as Christ's, it forms a pleasing testimony to the correctness of Christ's statement, and the usefulness of the promised aid.
I. THE DIVINE ASSERTION. God in Christ speaks.
1. It applies to man's spiritual life.
2. To His everyday purpose and action. "Good" is understood. There are some things we can do with. out Christ — and yet considering Him as God we cannot even do evil without the strength He supplies. Similarly, in a high spiritual sense, we can do nothing good without Him. We may feel our dignity affronted, and our first impulse will be denial of, or objection to the universality of the statement. But our life will prove that Christ is right. In every part of our life we have Christ's influence. The Christian becomes "a law unto himself," but behind the Christian and the law is the great Inspirer — Christ. Christ is the only one who can make this sweeping assertion without fear of ultimate contradiction.
II. THE HUMAN CONFIRMATION. Paul gives particular instances, then generalizes. How does Christ strengthen us?
1. By His having done all things Himself. In all life's experiences, conflicts, emergencies, Christ has preceded us. We have to walk in His steps.
2. By the effects of His wondrous life. We linger around the four great landmarks, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Gethsemane, Calvary, and they are a ceaseless inspiration to us. His miracles have made many a life path brighter, and they yield constant consolation. He healed the sick; sickness can be better borne. He hushed the waves; He stills the storm today.
3. By the effect of His unique teaching. Every word of His is the bread of life.
4. By His Cross and death. He is the Saviour from the curse of life — sin. Thus we hear Paul, "I can do all things," not by his immediate environment, men, or things; not by his inherent energy; but by Christ which "strengtheneth him with strength in his soul" (Psalm 138:3). Our strength is not superseded. It is linked with God's and made the grander for the union. It is "all things," even the otherwise impossible. It applies to the whole life. "Without me — nothing." Our power "through Christ which strengthens us" is limitless. So should our gratitude be.
(J. B. Swallow.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.