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Jesus Is Always Able

Philippians 3:17-21

I would like to talk with you for a few minutes about Jesus. What I would say of Him today can be reduced to four words: Jesus is always able.

In my ministry, it has been my privilege to know some great Christian saints—people who dearly love the Lord and in whom the power of the Lord resides. These people have one thing in common. They all declare the same truth and here it is: whenever they have been victorious in the face of some difficulty, some hardship, some tragedy, some temptation—whenever in their spiritual life they have known triumph, it is not, they declare, because of their own ability. Instead, it is because of the ability of their Christ.

Corrie Ten Boom, whose magnificent Christian witness inspired the book and the movie entitled The Hiding Place, once addressed a large gathering of Christians in Manila. She told of her experiences in World War II when she was a member of the Dutch Resistance Movement. She was betrayed by a quisling, a traitor, and as a result she suffered terribly. Yet she told how Jesus was able to lead her to forgive the man who betrayed her. After the war, when the man had been captured and sentenced to death, she went to him to tell him of her forgiveness and she then worked to have his death sentence commuted. After Corrie Ten Boom had finished her speech, the man who had introduced her said to the crowd: “Isn’t it wonderful that she could so love her enemies? What this world needs is more people like Corrie Ten Boom.” When Corrie Ten Boom heard that, she jumped up and asked to speak again. She said: “Let me repeat what I said earlier. There is not enough love in Corrie Ten Boom to have forgiven that man. The world doesn’t need any more Corrie Ten Booms—what the world needs is more people with Jesus in their hearts. For it is Jesus who was able to forgive. Jesus is the One who is able.”

I like that. Jesus is the One who is able. My beloved teacher, James Stewart of Scotland, has effectively pinpointed the places in Scripture where Jesus is described as being able. Today I want to underscore just three of them.

First, in Hebrews 7:25 we read: “Jesus is able to save.”

Paul knew what that meant. Jesus came to Paul at a time when Paul was caught in the death-grip of evil. He had given himself to a bloody persecution of the Church. So Jesus didn’t find Paul giving a passing thought to sin—He found him wallowing in it. And right then, Jesus saved him. For Paul the battle was lost, but Jesus stepped into his life and changed all that…and Paul came off a winner.

If you are one who feels that the battle is lost, if you are one who is sick at heart because of what you have become, if you are one who is experiencing the sting of failure and defeat, if you are one who feels that you just haven’t lived up to the glorious potential God has planted within you, then please hear the Good News of our Gospel: in Christ there is no such thing as the final defeat. There is no tangle He cannot straighten out. There is no hurt He cannot heal. There is no wrong He cannot make right. There is no sinner He cannot save. He is able, for all time and under all circumstances, to save.

But there is more. In Jude 24, we read: “Jesus is able to keep you from falling.”

We have talked about Jesus as One who saves. Now we acknowledge Him as One who supports. To put that another way, Jesus, the Great Physician, practices preventive medicine. Jesus works within us to build up our spiritual power so that we can be strong enough to resist the infection of sin. He is able to keep us from falling.

I shall never forget my first experience of communion in Scotland. When Trisha and I arrived at the door of the church as visitors, we were informed that we had to be examined as to our faith before being admitted to the Lord’s Table. You see, in Scotland, if a person is not spiritually prepared, then that person is not permitted to partake of the sacrament. Perhaps it was just the sequence of events that made such an impression on me—being questioned by an elder about the faith I hold in my heart, then entering the sanctuary to sit in the fellowship of other Christians, then hearing from the pulpit about the power of Jesus which is available to all who believe, and then after all that, coming to the Table myself. Yes, perhaps it was just the sequence of events that impressed me, but I can tell you this: that experience etched forever into my heart a great truth. Jesus is power. He is the power which can uplift us and uphold us. He enables us to lead a pure, clean, moral, wholesome, faithful, honest life. He lifts us heavenward—always heavenward. He is able to keep us from falling.

So Jesus is able to save and to support. But He is also able to subdue. In Philippians 3:21, we read: “Jesus is able to subdue or subject all things to Himself.”

The emphasis here is on the two words “all things.” You see, the work of Jesus Christ is not limited to us and to our individual needs. It applies to every dimension of the world’s existence. Paul, in Romans 8, speaks of the whole creation groaning in travail, waiting for the power of Christ to redeem it. That means that we as Christians can never be parochial or provincial. We can never fall victim to tunnel-vision. This Gospel, the Good News, this victory which Christ has won, not only applies to what goes on in your heart and mine, it applies to the whole world, all the world’s people and all the world’s problems. No principality, no power, no social structure, no human institution is beyond His limitless reach. All things are subdued by Him. All things are won by Him.

But can this be true? The world about us is divided into enemy camps. Distrust and fear dominate the relationships among the world’s nations. Cold war and uneasy peace and insane terrorism haunt both our waking and our sleeping hours. But God’s Word in Revelation makes this solemn yet astounding promise: that “the kingdoms of this world shall one day become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.” I believe that. I believe that day is coming. God has not abdicated His throne. Jesus Christ is still Saviour and Lord and Prince of Peace. And one day He shall put all nations and kingdoms under His feet. He shall reign as King of kings and Lord of lords forever.

So the hope of our world today is not in treaties made by statesmen whose integrity is not without blemish, whose motives are not beyond question, and whose intentions are not always honorable. The hope of our world is not in building to the point of the absurd vast stockpiles of armaments, nuclear and and otherwise, which have the capability right now of obliterating all of human civilization. The hope of our world is not in the oppression of people nor in the silencing of dissent, nor in the almost irresistible lure of great wealth and affluence. My friends, our hope is in Jesus Christ. It is in Christ alone! He alone is able to subdue all things to Himself.

So…

Jesus is always able. He is able to save. He is able to support. He is able to subdue all things. All this He offers to you because He offered His life for you. Only one question remains. Are you able to offer your life to Him in return? Are you able to say with the poet:

The stars will live for a million years
For a million years and a day,
But Christ and I shall live and love
When the stars have passed away.

Jesus is able. Are you?

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