1278. Strengthening Words From The Saviour’s Lips

by Charles H. Spurgeon on October 4, 2013

Charles Spurgeon talks about grace all sufficient, strength perfected, and power indwelling.

A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, April 2, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *5/14/2012

And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore I will rather boast in my infirmities, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [2Co 12:9]

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1. Paul, when buffeted by the messenger of Satan, addressed his prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ, and not, as he usually did, to the heavenly Father. This is a somewhat remarkable fact, but it is clear from the passage before us. He says, “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice,” and that the Lord here is the Lord Jesus is pretty clear from the fact that he says in the next verse, “that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” His prayer was not directed to God absolutely considered, nor does he speak of the power of God, but his prayer was directed to the Lord Jesus Christ, and it was the power of the Lord Jesus Christ which he desired to rest upon him. It is an infallible proof of our Lord’s divinity, that he may be addressed in prayer; and this is one example, with several others, which show to us that we may legitimately present our petitions, not only to the ever blessed Father, but also to his Son Jesus Christ. There seems to me to be a particular fitness in a prayer to Jesus when the temptation came from a messenger of Satan, because the Lord Jesus has endured a similar temptation himself, and knows how to help those who are tempted. Moreover, he has come to earth to destroy the works of the devil. In his lifetime he revealed particular power over unclean spirits, and was constantly casting them out from those whom they tormented. It was one of his few rejoicing notes, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” It was by the name of Jesus that demons were expelled after Christ had risen into glory. “Jesus I know,” said the spirits whom the sons of Sceva endeavoured in vain to exorcise. Demons felt the power of Jesus, and therefore it was wise and natural that the apostle Paul should, when buffeted by Satan, turn to Jesus and ask him to order the evil spirit to depart from him.

2. It is also very remarkable that this prayer was not only addressed to Jesus, but was offered in much the same manner as the prayer of our Lord in the garden. The apostle prayed three times, even as our Lord did when he too was severely buffeted by the powers of darkness. The thrice repeated cry was intensely earnest, for he “besought” the Lord thrice. And Paul, singularly enough, received very much the same answer as his Master, for our Lord was not permitted to put aside the cup (it could not pass away from him unless he drinks it), but an angel appeared to him strengthening him, and so in Paul’s case the trial was not taken away from him, but he was strengthened by kind and assuring words, and by being led to see that God would be glorified by his enduring the trial. I see, then, the Lord Jesus reflected in his servant Paul as in a mirror; I hear the thrice repeated prayer, I observe the cup standing unremoved, and I see the strength imparted in the midst of weakness.

3. Our text fell from the lips of Jesus Christ himself, and if anything could make its language more sweet than it is in itself it would be this fact, that he himself delivered the words to his chosen apostle. It is Jesus who says in the words of the text, “My grace is sufficient for you, my strength is made perfect in weakness.” This truth casts a soft, mellow light upon the words, helps us to interpret them, and enables us to derive all the greater comfort from them. When Jesus speaks, a special charm surrounds each syllable.

4. It is not easy to translate the exact tense of the Greek words into English. The apostle does not merely tell us that his Lord said these words to him fourteen years ago, but the tense connects the past with the present, as if he felt that the answer was not simply something past, but something which continued with him in its consoling power. The echoes of what his Lord had said were still sounding through his soul. I should not miss the apostle’s meaning if I read it, “He has been saying to me, ‘My strength is sufficient for you.’ ” The words had an enduring effect upon the apostle’s mind, not merely for the time reconciling him to the particular trouble which had afflicted him, but cheering him for all the rest of his life, constraining him in all future trials to glory in his infirmities and render praise to God. It is a sweet thing to have a text of Scripture laid home to the heart for present uses, but when God the Holy Spirit so applies a promise that it remains in the heart for the term of one’s natural life, then we are favoured indeed. Elijah’s food gave him strength for forty days, but what is that food which endures to eternal life? What bread must that be which feeds me through the whole period of my pilgrimage? Here, then, we have before us food which Jesus himself provides, so nutritive that his Spirit can cause us to remember the feast to our dying day. Oh Lord, feed us now and give us grace to inwardly digest your gracious word.

5. With this preface, which I ask you to remember during the discourse, since it indicates my line of thought, we now come to the text itself — a mass of bright and precious diamonds. In the text we notice three things — first, grace all sufficient; secondly, strength perfected; and, thirdly, power indwelling.

6. I. In the text even the most superficial observer notices a promise of GRACE ALL SUFFICIENT. In the case of our Lord Jesus, the Spirit so rested upon him as to be sufficient for him at all times. Never did the Spirit of God fail to uphold the man Christ Jesus under the most arduous labours, the most terrible temptations, and the most bitter sufferings; and therefore he completed the work which his Father gave him to do, and in death he was able to exclaim, “It is finished.” The Lord here assures his chosen servant that it should be the same with him, — “My grace,” he says, “is sufficient for you.”

7. To bring out the full meaning of these few words, I will give you four renderings of them. The first is a strictly grammatical one, and is the first sense which they bear. Taking the word translated grace to mean favour or love — for that also is included in the word charis — how does the passage run? “My favour is sufficient for you.” Do not ask to be rid of your trouble, do not ask to have ease, comfort, or any other form of happiness, — my favour is enough for you; or, as good Dr. Hodge renders it, “My Love is enough for you.” If you have little else that you desire, yet surely it is enough that you are my favoured one, a chosen subject of my grace. “My love is enough for you.” What a delightful expression. You do not need an explanation. Repeat the words to yourselves, and even now conceive that the Well Beloved looks down on you, and whispers, “My love is enough for you.” If you have been asking him three times to deliver you from your present affliction, hear him reply, “Why do you need to ask me any more? My love is enough for you.” What do you say to that? Do you not answer, “Indeed, Lord, indeed it is. If I am poor, if you wish me to be poor, I am content to be severely tested, for your love is enough for me: if I am sick, as long as you will come and visit me and reveal your heart to me, I am satisfied, for your love is enough for me. If I am persecuted, cast out, and forsaken, I will bear it cheerfully, if a sense of your love sustains me; for your love is enough for me. Indeed, and if I should be left so alone as to have no one to care for me in the whole world, if my father and my mother should forsake me, and every friend should prove to be a Judas, — your love is enough for me.” Do you catch the meaning, and do you see how Paul must have been comforted by it if he understood it in this primary and most natural sense? “Oh Paul, it is sufficient for you that have made you to be a chosen vessel to bear my name among the Gentiles; it is enough for you that I have loved you from before the foundation of the world, that I redeemed you with my precious blood, that I called you when you were a blasphemer and injurious, that I changed your heart and made you love me, and that I have kept you to this day, and will keep you even to the end by my inimitable love. My love is enough for you; do not ask to be set free from this buffeting; do not ask to be delivered from weakness and trial, for these will enable you to enjoy my favour all the better, and that is enough for you.”

8. We will now read our text another way, keeping to our Authorized Version, but throwing the stress on the first word — “My grace is sufficient for you.” What grace is this? Notice who it is who promises. It is Jesus who speaks; therefore it is mediatorial grace, the grace given to Jesus Christ as the covenant Head of his people who is here intended. Think of it for a moment. It is the head speaking to the member, and declaring that its grace is enough for the whole body. The anointing oil has been poured upon the head so that it may go down the beard and descend to the skirts, and, lo, one poor member of the body is mourning and complaining, for it is fearful of being omitted in the plentiful anointing, but the head comforts it by saying, “My anointing is enough for you, since it is enough for all my members.” It is the head; Christ, in whom all fulness dwells, speaking to one of the members of his mystical body, and saying, “The grace which God has given to me without measure on behalf of all the members of my body is sufficient for you as well as for the rest of them.” Beloved, seize the thought. The Lord has turned over to Christ all that the whole company of his people can possibly need; indeed, more than that, for “it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,” and we have all received from his fulness, and grace for grace, and from that fulness we hope to continually draw for evermore. This is the grace which is sufficient for us. It greatly tends to help faith when you can see the relationship that exists between the Redeemer and yourself; for Jesus is your covenant head, and God has been pleased to give himself and all his infinite riches to the Lord Jesus Christ as your federal representative; and as your covenant head the Lord Jesus assures you that the supplies laid up in him on your behalf are sufficient for you. Can you limit the mediatorial power of Christ? Do you not know that God does not give the Spirit by measure to him? Then be assured that Christ’s grace is sufficient for you.

9. I will read the text again, and this time put the stress in the centre. “My grace is sufficient for you.” It is now sufficient. You are buffeted by this evil spirit, but my grace is sufficient for your present need. Paul, you have been beaten by rods, and stoned and shipwrecked, and often in perils, and in all these my grace has been sufficient; and now I tell you this present trouble, though it is somewhat different in form from the rest, is nevertheless such as I am well able to handle. My grace is sufficient for you in this also. The nearness of an object increases its apparent size, and so the affliction under which we are at present labouring seems greater than any we have known before. Past trials appear when we have passed them to have been small things compared with present troubles, and therefore the difficulty is to see the sufficiency of grace for present and pressing afflictions. It is easy to believe in grace for the past and the future, but to rest in it for the immediate need is true faith. Believer, it is now that grace is sufficient: even at this moment it is enough for you. Do not say this is a new trouble, or if you do say it remember the grace of God is always new. Do not complain that some strange thing has happened to you, or if you do, remember blessings are provided in the grace of God to meet your strange difficulties. Do not tremble because the thorn in the flesh is so mysterious, for grace is mysterious too, and so mystery shall be met by mystery. At this moment, and at all moments which shall ever occur between now and glory, the grace of God will be sufficient for you. This sufficiency is declared without any limiting words, and therefore I understand the passage to mean that the grace of our Lord Jesus is sufficient to uphold you, sufficient to strengthen you, sufficient to comfort you, sufficient to make your trouble useful to you, sufficient to enable you to triumph over it, sufficient to bring you out of it, sufficient to bring you out of ten thousand like it, sufficient to bring you home to heaven. Whatever would be good for you, Christ’s grace is sufficient to bestow; whatever would harm you, his grace is sufficient to avert; whatever you desire, his grace is sufficient to give you if it is good for you; whatever you would avoid, his grace can shield you from it if his wisdom shall so dictate. Oh child of God, I wish it were possible to put into words this all sufficiency, but it is not. Let me retract my speech: I am glad that it cannot be put into words, for if that were so it would be finite, but since we never can express it, glory be to God it is inexhaustible, and our demands upon it can never be too great. Here let me press upon you the pleasing duty of taking home the promise personally at this moment, for no believer here need be under any fear, since for him also, at this very instant, the grace of the Lord Jesus is sufficient.

10. In the last reading which I will give, I shall lay the emphasis upon the first and the last words: “My grace is sufficient for you.” I have often read in Scripture of the holy laughter of Abraham, when he fell upon his face and laughed; but I do not know that I ever experienced that laughter until a few evenings ago, when this text came home to me with such sacred power as literally to cause me to laugh. I had been looking it over, looking at its original meaning, and trying to fathom it, until at last I got hold of it this way: “My grace,” Jesus says, “is sufficient for you,” and it looked almost as if it were meant to ridicule my unbelief: for surely the grace of such a one as my Lord Jesus is indeed sufficient for so insignificant a being as I am. It seemed to me as if some tiny fish, being very thirsty, was troubled with fear of drinking the river dry, and Father Thames said to him, “Poor little fish, my stream is sufficient for you.” I should think it is, and inconceivably more. My Lord seems to say to me, “Poor little creature that you are, remember what grace there is in me, and believe that it is all yours. Surely it is sufficient for you.” I replied, “Ah, my Lord, it is indeed.” Put one mouse down in all the granaries of Egypt when they were full after seven years of plenty, and imagine that one mouse complains that it might die of famine. “Cheer up,” says Pharaoh, “poor mouse, my granaries are sufficient for you.” Imagine a man standing on a mountain, and saying, “I breathe so many cubic feet of air in a year; I am afraid that I shall ultimately inhale all the oxygen which surrounds the globe.” Surely the earth on which the man would stand might reply, “My atmosphere is sufficient for you.” I should think so; let him fill his lungs as full as he ever can, he will never exhaust all the oxygen, nor will the fish drink up all the river, nor the mouse eat up all the grain in the granaries of Egypt. Does it not make unbelief seem altogether ridiculous, so that you laugh it out of the house, and say, “Never come this way any more, for with a mediatorial fulness to go to, with such a Redeemer to rest in, how dare I for a moment think that my needs cannot be supplied.” Our great Lord feeds all the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, and the cattle on the hills, and guides the stars, and upholds all things by the power of his hand, how then can we be constrained for supplies, or be destitute of help? If our needs were a thousand times larger than they are they would not approach the vastness of his power to provide. The Father has committed all things into his hand. Do not doubt him any more. Listen, and let him speak to you: “My grace is sufficient for you. What if you have little grace, yet I have much: it is my grace you have to look to, not your own, and my grace will surely be sufficient for you.” John Bunyan has the following passage, which exactly expresses what I myself have experienced. He says that he was full of sadness and terror, but suddenly these words broke in upon him with great power, and three times together the words sounded in his ears, “My grace is sufficient for you; my grace is sufficient for you; my grace is sufficient for you.” And “Oh! I thought,” he says, “that every word was a mighty word to me; as ‘My,’ and ‘grace,’ and ‘sufficient,’ and ‘for you.’; They were then, and sometimes still are, far bigger than others are.” He who knows, like the bee, how to suck honey from flowers, may well linger over each one of these words and drink in unutterable contentment.

   Have we forgot the Almighty name
      That form’d the earth and sea;
   And can an all-creating arm
      Grow weary or decay?
   Treasures of everlasting might
      In our Jehovah dwell;
   He gives the conquest to the weak,
      And treads their foes to hell.
   Mere mortal power shall fade and die,
      And youthful vigour cease;
   But we that wait upon the Lord
      Shall feel our strength increase.

11. II. Secondly, in the text we have STRENGTH PERFECTED, — “For my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

12. Now, still running the parallel between Jesus and Paul, remember, beloved, that it was so with our Lord Jesus Christ. He was strong concerning his deity, in him dwells all strength, for he is the mighty God; but how was his strength as Mediator made perfect? The Scripture says, “Perfect through suffering”: that is to say, the strength of Christ to save his people would never have been perfected if he had not taken upon himself the weakness of human nature, and if he had not in that feeble nature descended lower and lower in weakness. Had he saved himself he could not have saved us, but his giving up of all that he had, made him rich towards us, and his putting on of weakness made him strong to redeem us. Oh incarnate God, you could not redeem until you were swaddled as a babe in Bethlehem; indeed, you could not redeem until you were made to bear a cross like a felon; indeed, you could not perfect redemption until you hung as a ghastly corpse upon a gibbet; indeed, it was even essential that you should be laid in the grave; your work was not fulfilled until the third day that you abode in the heart of the earth among the dead. The Lord Jesus could say — “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” This was to be accomplished in Paul, and is to be fulfilled in all the saints. Of course the strength of God is always perfect; we do not understand that anything is necessary to make perfect the divine power, but the words fell from the lip of Jesus as our Mediator and representative, and it is his strength which is made perfect in weakness.

13. This is true in us first because the power of Jesus can only be perfectly revealed in his people by bearing them up, keeping them, and sustains them when they are in trouble. Who knows the perfection of the strength of God until he sees how God can make poor puny creatures strong? Over there is a timid, sickly woman, who lives a life of agony; almost every breath is a spasm, and every pulse a pang, each member of her body is subject to tortures of which others scarcely dream; but look at her cheerful patience! As much as possible she conceals her pain so that she may not distress others; you hear no mutter of complaint, but frequently she utters words as cheery as those which fall from people in robust health; and when she must tell of her afflictions she always speaks of them in such a tone that you feel she has accepted them at the Lord’s hands with complete resignation, and is willing to bear them as many years as the Lord may appoint. I do not wonder when strong men say strong things, but I have often marvelled when I have heard such heroic sentences from the weak and trembling. To hear the sorrowing comfort others, when you would think they needed comfort themselves; to see their cheerfulness, when if you and I suffered half as much we should have sunk to the earth — this, is, worthy of note. God’s strength is perfectly revealed in the trials of the weak. When you see a man of God brought into poverty, and yet in that poverty never repining; when you hear his character assailed by slander, and yet he stands unmoved like a rock amidst the waves; when you see the gracious man persecuted and driven from home and country for Christ’s sake, and yet he takes joyfully the spoiling of his goods and banishment and disgrace — then the strength of God is made perfect in the midst of weakness. While the man of God suffers, and is impoverished and distressed, and infirmed, then it is that the power of God is seen. When tiny insects made Pharaoh tremble then his magicians said, “This is the finger of God,” and God’s greatest glory always comes from things weak and despised.

14. This is equally true to the man himself. God’s strength is made perfect to the saint’s own apprehension when he is weak. Brothers, if you have prospered in business all your lives, and have had an easy path of it, I will tell you something: you do not know much about the strength of God. If you have been healthy all your lives and never suffered, if your families have never been visited by bereavements, and if your spirits have never been cast down, you do not know much about the strength of God. You may have read about it in books, and it is well you should; you may have seen it in others, and observation is useful; but a grain of experience is worth a pound of observation, and you can only get knowledge of the power of God by a practical acquaintance with your own weakness, and you will not be likely to get that unless as you are led along the thorny, flinty way which most of God’s saints have to travel, which is described by the word “tribulation.” Great tribulation brings out the great strength of God. If you never feel inward conflicts and sinking of soul, you do not know much about the upholding power of God; but if you go down, down, into the depths of soul anguish until the deep threatens to shut her mouth upon you, and then the Lord rides upon a cherub and flies, yes, rides upon the wings of the wind and delivers your soul, and catches you away to the third heaven of delight, then you perceive the majesty of divine grace. Oh, there must be the weakness of man, felt, recognised, and mourned over, or else the strength of the Son of God will never be perfected in us. Thus I have given you two meanings of the text: others see the strength of God in our weakness, and we ourselves discover it when our weakness is most obvious.

15. I think the term “made perfect” also means achieves its purpose. Read it like this: “For my strength fully achieves its purpose in weakness.” Brethren, God has not done for us what he intends to do until we have felt our own total lack of strength, as long as a portion of strength remains we are only partially sanctified. When our Lord has accomplished in us his intention, the result will be to empty us out and to make us discover the utter vanity of self. If the Lord ever takes you like a dish and turns you upside down and wipes you right out, and sets you away on a shelf, you will then feel what he intends you to feel: that is to say, you will feel as if you were waiting there for the Lord to take you down and use you, and then, be sure, he will come in due time and use you for his honourable purposes, giving food to you for his hungry people and making you an ornament at his banquets of love. If you feel yourself to be a full dish, I will tell you what there is in you: you hold nothing except the slops and filthiness of depraved nature. The Lord will never use you until all that is poured out, and you are wiped quite clean and put away with nothing of yourself remaining in you, in which you may boast about. All the saints who are ready to go to heaven feel themselves to be less than the least; but those professors who are by no means ready for glory are highly self conscious, and feel that there is a great deal in them which is very commendable. Those who enter heaven carry nothing of self with them, neither will any of us enter there as long as we talk proudly of our attainments. Those who claim to possess “the higher life” have been heard to boast about their purity, but those who enjoy the highest life in glory cry, “Not to us! Not to us, be glory.” It is a sign of fitness for heaven when self is dead and grace alone reigns. The strength of God is never perfected until our weakness is perfected. When our weakness is consciously and thoroughly felt, then the strength of God has done its work in us.

16. There is still another meaning. The strength of God is most perfected or most glorified by its using our total lack of strength. Suppose the world had been converted to Christ by twelve emperors; the establishment of Christianity might have been readily accounted for without glorifying God. Imagine that Christianity had been forced upon men with the stern arguments which Mohammed placed in the hands of his first disciples, the glory would have redounded to human courage and not to the love of God. We do not wonder that the gods of the heathen were dashed to the ground when the scimitars were so sharp, and were wielded by such ferocious warriors; but when we know that twelve humble fishermen, without arms or armour, without patronage or prestige, without science or sophistry, overthrew colossal systems of error and set up the cross of Christ in their place, we adoringly exclaim, “This is the finger of God.” And so the other day, when the Lord took a consecrated cobbler and sent him out to India, whatever work was done by William Carey was evidently seen to be by the Lord. If missionary societies would send out distinguished scholars it is thought by some that in all probability heathen intelligence would recognise abilities and genius, and respect them, and, convinced by reasoning and influenced by talent, they would bow before superior Western culture. Yes, and so they would be converted by a conversion in which the Lord would not be glorified, but proud man would have the praise. In what way would that increase the glory of God? God uses weakness rather than strength, and so his power is revealed. All that you have that is strong, my brother, will be of little service in this matter, for the Lord will not exalt your strength and make you proud of your attainments. Your weakness and infirmities, in all probability, the Lord will see fit to use, for he delights to take the base things and the things that are despised, and use them to achieve his purposes, so that the excellency of the power may be all his own.

17. Let me notice last of all on this point, that all history shows that the great strength of God has always been displayed and perpetuated in human weakness. Brothers, what made Christ so strong? Was it not that he condescended to be so weak? And how did he win his victory? By his patience, by his suffering: that is to say, by those things in which his human weakness appeared. Now, look at Christ mystical, namely, the church. How has the church ever been strong? Of course you reply, “By the strength of God!” I know it: but what has brought out the strength of God so that it has been undeniably obvious, and consequently operative upon mankind? Has it been the strength of the church? No, but the weakness of the church, for when men have seen believers suffer and die it is then that they have witnessed the strength of God in his people. The sufferings of the saints have been the victories of the truth. The martyrs led the vanguard; they suffered most, and consequently are the champions of the elect army: the weakness which allowed their being destitute, afflicted, tormented, has been the battle axe and the weapons of war with which the Lord has procured conquest for the gospel. When one of the pastors of a church in London was put to death in Smithfield one early morning, while yet the frost was unmelted by the sun, there stood around the stake a number of young people who had been accustomed to listen to his teachings. Strange thing for young believers to be up so very early to see their pastor burned to death! What do you think they were there for? No idle curiosity could have brought them to such a spectacle. It is written that they went there to learn the way. Do you see? They saw him burn, and came there with that intention, to learn the way to die for Christ themselves. The church of Rome could do nothing with a people who, from the weakness which compelled them to suffer, gathered strength to die triumphantly. The weakness of the martyr as he suffered revealed the strength of God in him, which held him firmly to his principles while he was gradually consumed by the cruel flames. If men had not been poor worms, capable of being crushed, and capable of agonizing sufferings, the upholding grace of God could never have been so conspicuously revealed. Blessed be the name of the Almighty, he displays his might in our weakness even as he shone out in the midst of the burning bush. He spoke, and lo! the heavens and the earth appeared. A marvellous creation! But then there was nothing to oppose the fiat of his power: his all powerful word was not hampered by using weak instrumentalities. How, then, is God to show even greater power? How shall omnipotence or all kinds of power be seen? Why, brethren, he will not use his unfettered word alone, but he will hinder and encumber it by using instruments infirm and weak. He will in the kingdom of grace work by men riddled with infirmities, and achieve his purposes by agencies in themselves unsuited for his intentions, and then his power will be doubly seen. The famous Quentin Matsys had to make a well cover in iron one morning. He was a master in the art of fashioning the metal, and could shape it as though it were so much wax. His fellow workmen were jealous, and therefore they took from him the proper tools, and yet with his hammer he produced a matchless work of art. So the Lord with instruments which lend him no aid, but rather hinder him, does greater works of grace to his own glory and honour. He takes us poor nothings who are weak as water, and uses us to accomplish his intentions, and this is his almightiness gloriously displayed. Omnipotence when it does what it wills by its mere word is one, but when it takes weakness into league with it and performs its powerful deeds by means of weakness, it counts for two, and by the weakness it doubly reveals itself.

18. III. The most blessed part of the text remains, — POWER INDWELLING.

19. Dr. Adam Clarke here furnishes us on the last part of our text with a most useful observation, “Most gladly therefore I will boast in infirmity, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Now notice, the Greek word used here interpreted “rest,” is the same word employed by John, when he says, “The word was made flesh, and,” as the Greek runs, “tabernacled among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The passage before us means just this, “I boast in infirmities so that the power of Christ may tabernacle in me.” Just as the Shekinah light dwelt in the tent in the wilderness beneath the rough badger skins, so I glory to be a poor frail tent and tabernacle, so that the Shekinah of Jesus Christ may dwell in my soul. Do you catch the thought? Is it not full of beauty? See, then, what he means, — First, he puts the power of Christ in opposition to his own power, because if he is not weak, then he has strength of his own; if then what he does is done by his own strength, there is no room for Christ’s strength; that is clear, but if his own power is gone there is room for the power of Christ. If my life is sustained by my own strength, and my good works are done in my own strength, then there is no room for Christ’s strength; but the apostle found that it was not so, and therefore he said, “I boast in my total lack of strength, so that the power of Christ may tabernacle in me.”

20. But what is the power of Christ? Let the text I quoted tell you — “The glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” What power, then, was this which Paul expected to tabernacle in him except the power of grace and the power of truth? It must be so, because God had said, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Paul catches at that promise, and he cries “this is truth, and I rely upon it”; and he therefore expects that the grace of God and the faithfulness of God would tabernacle in him, and shine out within his soul. This is the power of Christ which he expected to rest upon him. What more could we desire?

21. What is the power of Christ? I answer next, it is Christly power: the kind of power which is conspicuous in the life of Jesus. There was a power in Christ particular to himself, as all can see who read the New Testament: a power unique and altogether his own. You know what the power of Alexander was: it was a power to command men, inspire them with courage for great enterprises, and keep them in good heart when called to endure hardships. You know what the power of Demosthenes was: it was the power of eloquence, the power to stir the patriotic Greeks, to break the fetters of the Macedonian. But what was the power of Jesus? It was power to suffer, power to be made nothing of, power to descend to the very depths for love for God and love for men. There lay his power, in those five conquering wounds, in that majestic mournful face, more marred than that of any man, in that great agonizing heart which sent out sweat of blood when men were to be pleaded for before the Lord. Love and patience were Christ’s power, and even now these subdue the hearts of men, and make Jesus the sufferer to be Jesus the King. Therefore Paul says, “I glory in my infirmities so that this same power may tabernacle in me. I triumph in weakness, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake, that I may suffer, and humble myself, and be obedient, and prove my love for God even as Jesus did. When I am weak then I am strong” — strong to prove my love by enduring the weaknesses and afflictions which I accept for my Master’s sake.

22. What was this power of Christ? I answer again, it was a part of the “all power” which our Lord declared was given to him in heaven and in earth; “Go, therefore, and teach all nations.” Paul desired to have that power tabernacling in himself, for he knew very well that if he had to “go and teach all nations” he would have to suffer in so doing, and so he takes the suffering cheerfully, so that he might have the power. Even as beneath the badger skins of the tabernacle the glory of the Lord shone out, so the mighty converting power of Christ which dwelt in Paul was gloriously revealed while he endured reproaches and persecutions, sufferings and death for Jesus’ sake.

23. What was Christ’s power again? I answer, to complete my sermon, his power lay in his weakness, his humiliation, his dependence upon God, his faith in God, his self-abnegation, his perfect consecration to the Father; and Paul says that he was made to suffer, and to be weak, that this same power to become nothing so that God might be glorified, might rest in him.

24. I am finished when I say just this. Dear brothers and sisters, go home and never ask the Lord to make you strong in yourselves, never ask him to make you anyone or anything, but be content to be nothing and a nobody. Next ask that his power may have a place in you, and that all those who come near you may see what God can do by nothings and nobodies. Live with this desire, to glorify God. Sometimes when God honours us in his service a great “I” stands in the Lord’s way. Tremble when you see a poor, weak preacher made useful in converting souls: then all the papers and magazines begin to blaze his name abroad, and silly Christians — for there are plenty of them — begin to praise him as if he were a demigod, and say such great things about him, and describe him as wise, and eloquent, and great. So they do all they can to ruin the good brother. If the man is sensible he will say, “Get behind me, Satan, for you do not savour the things that are of God”; and, if God gives him great grace, he will retire more and more into the background, and lie lower and lower before his God: but, if you once get a man to feel himself to be great and good, either a fall will happen, or else the power of God will withdraw from him, or in some other way the Lord will make his people feel that he will not give his glory to another. The best of men are flesh and blood, and they have no power unless God lends them power, and he will make them know and feel this. Therefore, neither exalt others nor exalt yourselves, but beseech the Lord to make and keep you weakness itself, so that his power may be displayed in you. May God grant that it may be so, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — 2Co 11:5-24 12:1-9]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Lord’s Day — Hosannah” 909]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Courage and Confidence — Christ Our Strength” 681]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Support in Affliction — ‘As Thy Day, Thy Strength Shall Be’ ” 745]

Public Worship, The Lord’s Day
909 — Hosanna
1 This is the day the Lord hath made,
      He calls the hours his own;
   Let heaven rejoice, let earth be glad,
      And praise surround the throne.
2 Today he rose and left the dead;
      And Satan’s empire fell;
   Today the saints his triumphs spread,
      And all his wonders tell.
3 Hosanna to th’ anointhewyd King,
      To David’s holy Son!
   Help us, oh Lord! descend and bring
      Salvation from thy throne.
4 Blest be the Lord, who comes to men,
      With messages of grace;
   Who comes in god his Father’s name,
      To save our sinful race.
5 Hosanna in the highest strains
      The church on earth can raise;
   The highest heavens, in which he reigns,
      Shall give him nobler praise.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

The Christian, Courage and Confidence
681 — Christ Our Strength
1 Let me but hear my Saviour say,
   Strength shall be equal to thy day!
   Then I rejoice in deep distress,
   Leaning on all sufficient grace.
2 I glory in infirmity,
   That Christ’s own power may rest on me;
   When I am weak, then am I strong,
   Grace is my shield, and Christ my song.
3 I can do all things, or can bear
   All sufferings, if my Lord be there:
   Sweet pleasures mingle with the pains,
   While his left hand my head sustains.
4 But if the Lord be once withdrawn,
   And we attempt the work alone,
   When new temptations spring and rise,
   We find how great our weakness is.
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.

The Christian, Privileges, Support in Affliction
745 — “As Thy Day, Thy Strength Shall Be”
1 Afflicted soul, to Jesus dear,
   Thy Saviour’s gracious promise hear;
   His faithful word declares to thee
   That, “as thy day, thy strength shall be.”
2 Let not thy heart despond, and say,
   How shall I stand the trying day?
   He has engaged, by firm decree,
   That, “as thy day, thy strength shall be.”
3 Should persecution rage and flame,
   Still trust in thy Redeemer’s name;
   In fiery trials thou shalt see
   That, “as thy day, thy strength shall be.”
4 When call’d to bear the weighty cross,
   Or sore affliction, pain, or loss,
   Or deep distress, or poverty,
   Still, “as thy day, thy strength shall be.”
5 When ghastly death appears in view,
   Christ’s presence shall thy fears subdue;
   He comes to set thy spirit free;
   And “as thy day, thy strength shall be.”
                        James Fawcett, 1782.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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