Christ had said to the rich young ruler, “Sell all that thou hast … and come, follow me.” The young man went away sorrowful. Christ then turned to the disciples,: and said: “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” The disciples, we read, were greatly astonished, and answered: “Who, then, can be saved?” And Christ gave this blessed answer: “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:2227).
The text contains two thoughts-that in the question of salvation and of following Christ by a holy life, it is impossible for man to do it. And then alongside that is the thought– What is impossible with man is possible with God.
These two thoughts mark the two great lessons that man has to learn in the Christian life. It often takes a long time to learn the first lesson-that in the Christian life man can do nothing, that salvation is impossible to man. And often a man learns that, and yet he does not learn the second lesson-what has been impossible to him is possible with God. Blessed is the man who learns both lessons! The learning of them marks stages in the Christian’s life.
Now comes the second lesson. “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. ”
I said a little while ago that there is many a man who has learned the lesson, it is impossible with men, and then he gives up in helpless despair. He lives a wretched Christian life, without joy or strength or victory. And why? Because he does not humble himself to learn that other lesson: With God all things are possible.
Your Christian life is to be a continuous proof that God works impossibilities. Your Christian life is to be a series of impossibilities made possible and actual by God’s almighty power. That is what the Christian needs. He has an almighty God that he worships, and he must learn to understand that he does not need a little of God’s power. But, he needs-with reverence be it said-the whole of God’s omnipotence to keep him right, and to live like a Christian.
The whole of Christianity is a work of God’s omnipotence. Look at the birth of Christ Jesus. That was a miracle of divine power, and it was said to Mary: “With God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). It was the omnipotence of God. Look at Christ’s resurrection. We are taught that it was according to the exceeding greatness of His mighty power that God raised Christ from the dead.
Every tree must grow on the root from which it springs. An oak tree three hundred years old grows all the time on the one root from which it had its beginning. Christianity had its beginning in the omnipotence of God. In every soul, Christianity must have its continuance in that omnipotence. All the possibilities of the higher Christian life have their origin in a new understanding of Christ’s power to work all God’s will in us.
I want to call on you now to come and worship an almighty God. Have you learned to do it? Have you learned to deal so closely with an almighty God that you know omnipotence is working in you? In outward appearance there is often little sign of it.
The apostle Paul said: “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and … my preaching was … in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Corinthians 2:3,4). From the human side there was feebleness; from the divine side there was divine omnipotence. And that is true of every godly life. If we would only learn that lesson better, and give a wholehearted, undivided surrender to it, we would learn what blessedness there is in dwelling every hour and every moment with an almighty God. Have you ever studied in the Bible the attribute of God’s omnipotence? You know that it was God’s omnipotence that created the world, and created light out of darkness, and created man. But have you studied God’s omnipotence in the works of redemption?
Look at Abraham. When God called him to be the father of that people out of which Christ was to be born, He said to him: “I am the Almighty God, walk before me and be thou perfect” (Genesis 17: 1)’. And God trained Abraham to trust Him as the omnipotent One. Whether it was his going out to a land that he did not know, or his faith as a pilgrim midst the thousands of Canaanites-his faith said: “This is my land.” Whetherit was his faith in waiting twenty-five years for a son in his old age, against all hope, or whether it was the raising up of Isaac from the dead on Mount Moriah when he was going to sacrifice him-Abraham believed God. He was strong in faith, giving glory to God, because he accounted Him who had promised able to perform.
The cause of the weakness of your Christian life is that you want to work it out partly, and to let God help you. And that cannot be. You must come to be utterly helpless, to let God work. He will work gloriously. It is this that we need if we are indeed to be workers for God. I could go through Scripture and prove to you how Moses, when he led Israel out of Egypt; how Joshua, when he brought them into the land of Canaan; how all God’s servants in the Old Testament counted on the omnipotence of God doing impossibilities. And this God lives today; and this God is the God of every child of His. And yet some of us want God to give us a little help while we do our best, instead of coming to understand what God wants, and to say: “I can do nothing. God must and will do all.” Have you said: “In worship, in work, in sanctification, in obedience to God, I can do nothing of myself, and so my place is to worship God, and to believe that He will work in me every moment”? Oh, may God teach us this! Oh, that God would by His grace show you what a God you have, and to what a God you have entrusted yourself-an omnipotent God. He is willing, with His whole omnipotence, to place Himself at the disposal of every child of His! Will we not take the lesson of the Lord Jesus, and say: “Amen; the things which are impossible with men are possible with God”?
Remember what we have said about Peter, his selfconfidence, self-power, self-will, and how he came to deny his Lord. You feel, “Ah! there is the self-life; there is the fleshlife that rules in me!” And now, have you believed that there is deliverance from that? Have you believed that Almighty God is able to reveal Christ in your heart, to let the Holy Spirit rule in you so that the self-life will not have power or dominion over you? Have you coupled the two together- and, with tears of penitence and with deep humiliation and feebleness, cried out: “O God, it is impossible to me; man cannot do it, but glory to Your name, it is possible with God”? Have you claimed deliverance? Do it now. Put yourself afresh in absolute surrender into the hands of a God of infinite love. As infinite as His love is His power to do it.