Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Sermons
All-Sufficiency MagnifiedG. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 4:13
Christian OmnipotenceW.F. Adeney Philippians 4:13
Courageous Christians NeededC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 4:13
Dependence on ChristJ. B. Swallow.Philippians 4:13
Here We FindW. Forsyth.Philippians 4:13
Power Through the Love of ChristManual of AnecdotesPhilippians 4:13
Power Through the Spirit of ChristW. Birch.Philippians 4:13
Strength by ChristS. Martin.Philippians 4:13
Strength in ChristPhilippians 4:13
Strength Through ChristT. L. Cuyler, D. D.Philippians 4:13
The Fountain of StrengthJ. A. Alexander, D. D.Philippians 4:13
The Hidden Source of PowerPhilippians 4:13
The Power of the ChristianArchdeacon Hare.Philippians 4:13
The Secret of FortitudeJ. F. B. Tinling, B. A.Philippians 4:13
The Secret of ContentmentT. Croskery Philippians 4:10-13
Man in Model AspectsD. Thomas Philippians 4:10-17
A Grateful HeartJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 4:10-20
Hearing and DoingBiblical TreasuryPhilippians 4:10-20
Hesitation DestructiveJ. Denton.Philippians 4:10-20
Importance of OpportunityPhilippians 4:10-20
Paul Thanks the Philippians for Their ContributionR. Finlayson Philippians 4:10-20
Paul's GratitudeJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 4:10-20
Philippian Charity and Pauline DelicacyDean Vaughan.Philippians 4:10-20
The Art of Divine ContentmentR.M. Edgar Philippians 4:10-23
ContentmentW. L. Watkinson.Philippians 4:11-13
Contentment in All ThingsH. W. Beecher.Philippians 4:11-13
The School of ChristW. Cadman, M. A.Philippians 4:11-13
The Tendency of Christian Principles to Produce True ContentmentE. Cooper, M. A.Philippians 4:11-13
The Difficulties of ProsperityV. Hutton Philippians 4:12, 13
The language of faith resembles in form the language of boastful presumption. But the two are essentially dissimilar. So long as our ground of confidence is not in ourselves, but in Christ, it is no mark of humility, but rather a sign of unbelief and ingratitude, for one to make little of it. There is a legitimate boasting in Christ which is quite different from the boasting of the braggart in his own resources. "My soul will make her boast in the Lord" - this the humblest may say.

I. THE TRUE CHRISTIAN IS A STRONG SOUL. He is not simply pardoned the failures of past weakness; he is prepared to be more successful in future trials. For those trials he is not merely protected by Divine armor; he is also girded by Divine strength. God does not simply hide his child in the cleft of a rock while the storm passes; he also inspires him with might wherewith to face and brave and conquer the storm even out in the open. He who protects the feeble fledglings in their warm nest also braces the strong branches of the oak to wrestle with the gale. Moreover, if strength is possible to the Christian, weakness is culpable. No one can plead his feebleness as an excuse for falling when he might have been strong in the energy of God.

II. CHRIST IS THE SOURCE OF CHRISTIAN STRENGTH. We are made strong in Christ, not in ourselves. By himself the Christian is as weak as any one else. It is union with Christ that supplies Christ's strength made perfect in our weakness.

1. Christ strengthens with an inspiration of Divine energy. The language of the apostle points to a real supply of strength, not a mere sense of courage, etc. There is a positive outflow of God's might into a soul that is united to Christ.

2. Christ strengthens by his union with us. We must be in him and he in us. Then his life-power flows through us.

3. Christ strengthens though our faith. We are able to receive Christ's energy just in proportion as we trust him, as they who were cured by him had. blessings according to their faith. The energy is not in our faith, but in Christ. Still, faith is the channel of communication. Faith can move mountains, not by reason of its own inherent virtue, but because it invokes the omnipotence of God, as the engineer starts the train when he turns on the steam.

III. THERE ARE GREAT CLAIMS ON CHRISTIAN STRENGTH. It is not allowed to rust in idleness. St. Paul writes of "all things," as though there were many things to be done in the power of Christ.

1. Troubles, temptations, and changing circumstances of life must be borne with contentment. It is in regard to this requirement that the apostle more immediately records this assurance of sufficiency of strength.

2. Duties have to be fulfilled. Christ gives strength for work as well as strength for endurance. The Christian must not only stand firmly like a rock; he must put forth active power like a Samson. The calls for strength are many and various, flesh and heart fail before them; but "they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength," so that in Christ the heaviest burden may be borne and the hardest task accomplished and the weakest soul win the victory over the most powerful foe, with a strength which is practically omnipotent, because it is derived frown an almighty source. - W.F.A.







I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me
I. WEAKNESS AND STRENGTH. The believer is weak in himself. Looking to the "all things" to be done he laments this with shame and tears. But he is not alone. Allied to Christ he is strong to overcome evil and to do good. He has courage and hope. Nothing in the way of duty is impossible (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

II. DEPENDENCE AND FREEDOM. Dependence is the law of our being. Of the natural life it is said, "In God we live and move and have our being;" how much more is this true of the spiritual life, and yet we are free. Of our own choice we trust in Christ; of our own will, every moment we abide in Him. "I can" implies the personal life, reason, conscience, will, and endeavour.

III. HUMILITY AND ASPIRATION. Paul was remarkable for humility; it grew with him. But he was not discouraged. Fired with the noblest ambition, his inspiration was from above. So with all Christians. In spite of conscious weakness, opposition, and failure, "through Christ they take heart to persevere. "My soul cleaveth to the dust: quicken thou me according to Thy Word."

IV. SUFFERING AND CONTENTMENT. Paul's life was marked by vicissitudes and trouble; he was now in prison. But what then? His soul was free; there was peace within, Christ was with him. As a scholar under the great Master he had ]earned many things, and among others the Divine secret of content (ver. 11). So with Christians. Their satisfaction is not from without but from within; not from the lower and perishable things of the world, but from the immortal affection of their Saviour and God.LEARN —

1. The greatness of Christ as suggested by the place given Him by such a man as Paul. Consider his zeal, labours, achievements, and yet he ascribes the praise of all to Christ. But Paul was only one of many.

2. The grandeur of the Christian life. There is no limit to its possibilities. What has been done is only an earnest of what will be done. Take courage. "Through Christ," His blood, Word, Spirit, resurrection, etc., all things are possible. What inspiration here for prayer and holy endeavour (Ephesians 3:20-21).

3. The certain triumph of Christianity. Strengthened by Him, His people shall never cease to pray and strive, till all the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ.

(W. Forsyth.)

The former part of the sentence would be a piece of impudent daring without the latter. There have been men who, puffed up with vanity, have said, "I can do all things." Their destruction has been sure — Nebuchadnezzar, Xerxes, Napoleon. And what shall we say to our apostle, weak in presence and contemptible in speech, the leader of a hated and persecuted sect. Has Gamaliel taught him an eloquence that can baffle all opposers? Have his sufferings given him so stern a courage that he is not to be turned away? Is it on himself he relies? No; he turns his face towards his Saviour and with devout reverence but dauntless courage. "Through Christ," etc.

I. THE MEASURE of the text. It is exceeding broad. Paul meant that he was able —

1. To endure all trials.

2. To perform all duties.

3. To conquer all corruptions. He once said, "O wretched man that I am," etc. But he did not stay there, "Thanks be unto God that giveth us the victory." Have you a violent temper? Through Christ you can curb it. Are you timid? Christ can give you a lion's boldness. Are you slothful? Christ can make you energetic. Are you incapable for strong effort? Christ can increase your capacity. Are you inconstant? Christ can settle you. There is not a Hittite or Jebusite in the whole land that cannot be east out.

4. To serve God in any state! (ver. 12). Some Christians are called to undergo extreme changes from wealth to poverty, and from poverty to wealth, and, alas, there is often a corresponding spiritual change; the one desponds, the other is elated or becomes avaricious. This need not be. When you gave yourself to Christ you gave yourself wholly to serve Him in everything and anywhere.

5. You can do all things through Christ in respect to all worlds. In this world you can enlighten and uplift it. You may pass through the dark gate of death with Christ without fear into the world of spirits, and there you are more than conqueror.

II. THE MANNER OF IT. None of us can explain this; but we may see how the acts of the Spirit for Christ tend to strengthen the soul for all things.

1. By strengthening our faith. It is remarkable how timid and doubting Christians have in time of trial behaved most bravely. God gives faith equal to the emergency. Weak faith can sprout and grow till it becomes great under the pressure of a great trial. Nothing braces a man's nerves like the cold winter's blast. Together with faith often comes a singular firmness of mind. When John Ardley was brought before Bonner the latter said, "The fire will convert you; faggots are sharp preachers." Said Ardley, "I am not afraid to try it; and I tell thee, Bishop, if I had as many lives as I have hairs on my head, I would give them all up sooner than I would give up Christ." And then Christians are often enabled to anticipate the joys of heaven when their pangs are greatest. Look at old Ignatius with his arm in the lion's mouth, exclaiming, "Now I begin to be a Christian."

2. By quickening the mental faculties. It is astonishing how poor illiterate persons have been able to refute their clever opponents. Cranmer and Ridley were no match for Jane Bouchier the Baptist martyr. "I am as true a servant of God as any of you; and if you put your poor sister to death, take care lest God should let loose the wolf of Rome on you, and you have to suffer for God, too."

3. By enabling the believer to overcome himself. He can lose all things, because he is already prepared to do it; he can suffer all things, because he does not value his body as the worldling does; he can brave all things, because he has learned to fear God, and therefore has no reason to fear man; he can perform wonders, because his body and spirit are disciplined.

4. Note the present tense. Not Christ has strengthened, did strengthen at conversion, "As thy days so shall thy strength be."

III. THE MESSAGE OF IT.

1. One of encouragement to those who are doing something for Christ, but feel painfully their own inability. Cease not from God's work, because you are unable to perform it of yourself. Cease from yourself, from man. Before Zerubbabel the mountain shall become a plain. If we believed great things we should do great things. Do net go through the world saying, "I was born little." You were not meant to be little. Act as David did in spite of his brothers' sneers.

2. Take heed that you do it in Christ's strength. You can do nothing without that. Go not forth till thou hast first prayed. The battle that begins with holy reliance on God means victory.

3. Paul speaks in the name of all Christians. How is it that some of you then are doing nothing? What a work there is to do! And what may not one resolute Christian accomplish.

(G. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THERE ARE TWO MAIN ERRORS BY WHICH MEN ARE DECEIVED. The first is the fancy that they can do all things that they wish and try to do of themselves. The second is that they cannot and need not do anything. These have been the sources of two of the most mischievous heresies, the one undermining all spiritual, the other all practical religion; the first is Pelagianism, the other Antinomianism.

II. THE END OF THESE ERRORS IS TO KEEP MEN IN SIN. Pride says it will pay off the debt it owes to God when it has grown bigger. "Why should I do that today," it cries, "which I can do any day whenever I please?" Meanwhile sloth alleges that it is a bankrupt and demands as such to be let off all manner of payment, for getting that a negligent and fraudulent bankrupt has no claim to favour. Pride says it can obey God and does not. Sloth says it cannot and need not.

III. THESE ERRORS, IRRECONCILABLE THOUGH THEY MAY SEEM, ARE OFTEN FOUND SIDE BY SIDE. They are Satan's right and left hand in which he tosses our souls from one to the other. The proud man, although he makes himself believe that he can obey God by himself, must be often warned by his conscience that he has not done so. At such times he will try to stifle his qualms by saying that he has done his best, and that Christ's merits will be sufficient to make up. The slothful man, too, who has drugged his conscience with the notion that as his best works cannot earn heaven, so it matters not what his works are, must be startled now and then by scriptural exhortations to holiness; but when so startled he whispers to himself that let the worst come to the worst he will reform by and by.

IV. BOTH THESE ERRORS ARE ANSWERED BY THE TEXT, which picks out the truth involved in each and separates it from the false. When an error is long-lived it is by means of some truth mixed up with it.

1. As the pride of man says, "I can do all things," so does Paul; only pride stops short here, whereas Paul adds, "through Christ," etc. Pride forgets the Fall, and also that what it calls its own strength is really God's gift.

2. The sluggard is also bereft of his only excuse. God never demands of us what we cannot do; and Paul tells us that there is no limit to our power; he poor, weak, frail as he was, could do all things when strengthened by Christ.

V. WHAT DOES PAUL MEAN BY THIS.

1. Certainly not in the same sense that God can do all things — make a world, arrest the sun, etc.; but —

2. In accordance with the previous verse. These things, however, seem to some hardly sufficient to bear the lofty declaration of the text, and would rather have expected to hear of some great victory gained or miracle wrought. Yet it is in these things that our hardest trials lie, for they are the things that the natural man cannot do of himself. He may brave dangers and accomplish many wonderful works, but he does not know how to be abased and how to abound. A cup knows how to be full and how to be empty, and stands equally straight in either case. But man's hand cannot lift the full cup and will not lift the empty one. It is only through Christ that whether the Lord giveth or taketh away we can say, "Blessed be His name."

3. The true children of God can do all things that they can ever desire to do, viz., the will of God.

(Archdeacon Hare.)

The more literal rendering is "I am strong for all things"; or, "I am equal to all things, Christ invigorating me," either doing or suffering. Let us look at —

I. CHRIST STRENGTHENING PAUL.

1. Every man needs strength. Weakness is so much less of life. Lack of strength is more serious than any rack of outward possession. A weak rich man is in a worse position than a strong poor man. Weakness lessens work, reduces enjoyment, and aggravates suffering. It is also the cause of wickedness, exposing the individual to fierce temptation. As a preservative against sin we need to ask for daily strength.

2. Every man requires strengthening. Even the strong by constitution and education. The child learning to walk alone is strengthened by the hand of the mother, and the aged mother is in return strengthened by the arm of her son. The boy is strengthened to learn by his tutor or employer, and the man to pursue the objects of life by various invigorating influences; while all are strengthened by God.

3. The Christian is no exception. His conversion is not translation to ease. There are times when he lies down in green pastures; but he lies down tired, and that he may rise stronger. We rest not for resting's sake but for work's sake. The Christian life is a race to be run and a battle to be fought. To cease either is to cease to be a Christian.

4. A Christian's strength can come only by his being strengthened. There is not within the man as a man or a Christian any stock of strength given at the commencement. Our resources are supplied as we need them. This arrangement keeps us close to the source of all energy and wisdom, communion with whom alone, apart from imparted blessings, invigorates.

5. An apostle is no exception to this rule. On the battlefield the eye of the soldier is upon the officers of the opposing army. So ministers are more tried than others, partly because of their vocation, and partly that they may have wisdom and grace to succour the tempted.

6. And Christ did strengthen Paul. By His example, grace, promises, doctrines, precepts,

II. PAUL HEREBY ASSURED THAT ALL THINGS WERE POSSIBLE TO HIM. He felt equal to labour, suffering, and dying. Yet this was not undue self-confidence, but humility.

1. if we Christians are not equal to all the demands which God makes upon us our in. ability involves guilt. Weakness is not a misfortune but a crime, needing not pity but blame. Christ does not require anything impossible or injuriously difficult, nothing for which He does not guarantee strength.

2. The Divine help is manifold and constant. Look at the assistance obtained from —

(1)The Scriptures, which thoroughly furnish us unto all good works.

(2)Providence, under which all things work together for our good.

(3)Christian principle — faith, love, hope, joy, obedience.

3. If we turn from this various help to Christ personally and then remember that He is with us, immutable in His love, unfailing in His resources, unwearied in His oversight, we can understand what Paul meant.

(1)I cannot do many things which my fellow Christians say is my duty;

(2)Nor what in my ignorance I conclude to be my duty;

(3)Nor what is actually my duty, if I go about it in a wrong spirit or way;

(4)But Christ will strengthen us for all His will.What can hinder? Not our ignorance, for He is our teacher; not our feebleness, for He never breaks the bruised reed; not our sinfulness, for He is our Saviour.

4. This assurance covers all the necessities of our Christian life — perseverance, cross-bearing and self-crucifixion, Christian work, the prospect and experience of death.

(S. Martin.)

We all need strength. Whether conscious or unconscious of it, we are all weak. Our very strength is weakness. We may trust it and be deceived by it. This is a defect we cannot supply. The exertion of weakness can not produce strength. We must look out of ourselves; and to save us from a vain search God sets Christ before us as our strength and strengthener.

I. HOW CHRIST STRENGTHENS US.

1. Not by miracle or magic; not by acting upon us without our knowledge or against our will, but through our own intelligent and active powers.

2. By instructing us in the knowledge of our weakness and His own strength.

3. By His example, showing us how to do all that He requires in His own life.

4. By supplying us with the great motive power — His constraining love.

5. By working faith in us, which brings us into vital union with Him who is the source of strength.

II. FOR WHAT HE STRENGTHENS US.

1. To fulfil the law as a rule of duty.

2. To resist temptation.

3. To suffer and endure.

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

(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.)

When I was at Princeton, Professor Henry had so constructed a huge bar of iron, bent into the form of a horseshoe, that it used to hang suspended from another iron bar above it. Not only did it hang there but it upheld four thousand pounds weight attached to it! The horseshoe magnet was not welded or glued to the metal above it, but through the iron wire coiled round it there ran a subtle current of electricity from a galvanic battery. Stop the flow of the current for one instant and the huge horseshoe dropped. So does all the lifting power of the Christian come from the currents of spiritual influence which flow into his heart from the living Jesus. The strength of the Almighty One enters into the believer. If his connection with Christ is cut off, in an instant he becomes as any other man.

(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

In the days of bloody Mary a poor Protestant was condemned to be burned alive. When he came in sight of the stake he exclaimed, "Oh! I cannot burn! I cannot burn!" Those who heard him supposed he intended to recant, but they misunderstood him. He felt he needed more strength to bear the dread ordeal in a worthy manner, so being left a few moments to himself, he cried in an agony of prayer that God would more sensibly reveal Himself to him. As the result of this, instead of recanting, he cried out triumphantly, "Now I can burn! Now I can burn!"

(J. F. B. Tinling, B. A.)

"I was requested," said the late Dr. Macleod, "by a brother minister, who was unwell, to go and visit a dying boy. He told me before some remarkable things of this boy. He was eleven years of age, and during three years' sickness had manifested the most patient submission to the will of God, with a singular enlightenment of the Spirit. I went to visit him. He had suffered the most excruciating pain. For years he had not known one day's rest. I gazed with wonder at the boy. After drawing near to him, and speaking some words of sympathy, he looked at me with his blue eyes — he could not move, it was the night before he died — and breathed into my ear these few words: 'I am strong in Him.' The words were few, and uttered feebly; they were the words of a feeble child, in a poor home, where the only ornament was that of a meek, and quiet, and affectionate mother; but these words seemed to lift the burden from the very heart; they seemed to make the world more beautiful than ever it was before; they brought home to my heart a great and a blessed truth. May all of us be strong in Him."

No man is likely to accomplish much who moodily indulges a desponding view of his own capacities. By God's help the weakest of us may be strong, and it is the way to become so, to resolve never to give up a good work till we have tried our best to achieve it. To think nothing impossible is the privilege of faith. We deprecate the indolent cowardice of the man who always felt assured that every new enterprise would be too much for him, and therefore declined it; but we admire the pluck of the ploughman who was asked on his cross examination if he could read Greek, and replied he did not know, because he had never tried. Those Suffolk horses which will pull at a post till they drop are worth a thousand times as much as jibbing animals that run back as soon as ever the collar begins to press them.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

A minister says: "The other day I was up in Lancashire, and my host took me to see one of those monster factories which are the wonders of civilization, covering acres of ground — nobody knows how many stories high, and how many hundreds of windows they have to let in the light upon the industrious work people inside. As I walked in and through those rooms, and went from one story to another, and saw the rolling of the pinions and heard the rattling of the wheels, and felt the vibration of the floor beneath my feet, while the raw material was being, as by magic, brought out at the other end to be a robe for a peasant or a prince, I said, 'Why, where in the world is the motive power that sets all this to work?' He took me out of the building altogether, to a little circumscribed place beneath, where there was only one door and a window to the whole room; but through the open door I saw the great piston moving in silent and majestic power as it was doing this wondrous work. 'There,' said he, 'is the mighty force that sets the work in motion.'"

A young Italian boy knocked one day at the door of an artist's studio in Rome, and when it was opened, exclaimed, "Please, madam, will you give me the master's brush?" The painter was dead, and the boy, feeling inflamed with longing to be an artist, wished for the great master's brush, with the idea that it would inspire him with his genius. The lady placed the brush belonging to her departed husband in the hand of the boy, saying, "This is his brush; try it, my boy." With a flush of earnestness on his face, he tried, but found he could paint no better with the master's brush than with his own. The lady then said to him, "You cannot paint like the great master unless you have his spirit."

(W. Birch.)

Manual of Anecdotes.
ONE day, one the gigantic eagles of Scotland carried away an infant, which was sleeping by the fireside in its mother's cottage. THE whole village ran after it; but the eagle soon perched itself upon the loftiest eyrie, and everyone despaired of the child being recovered. A sailor tried to climb the ascent, but his strong limbs trembled, and he was at last obliged to give up the attempt. A robust Highlander, accustomed to climb the hills, tried next, and even his limbs gave way, and he was in fact precipitated to the bottom. But, at last, a poor peasant woman came forward. She put her feet on one shelf of the rock, then on a second, and then on a third; and in this manner, amid the trembling hearts of all who were looking on, she rose to the very top of the cliff, and at last whilst the breasts of those below were heaving, came down step by step, until, amid the shouts of the villagers, she stood at the bottom of the rock with the child on her bosom. Why did that woman succeed, when the strong sailor and the practised Highlander had failed? Why, because between her and the babe there was a tie; that woman was the mother of the babe. Let there be love to Christ and to souls in your hearts, and greater wonders will be accomplished.

(Manual of Anecdotes.)

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