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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 53 - Romans 8:37 - The Abundant Victory, and How it is Won Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


Within the six verses preceding this, we have no less than six most striking questions; some apparently abrupt, but all of them very expressive: (1.) What shall we say to these things? (2.) Who can be against us? (3.) How shall He not give us all things? (4.) Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? (5.) Who is he that condemneth? (6.) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

At the close of these questions mention is made of seven evils, all which were more or less the portion of the saints: (1) tribulation; (2) distress; (3) persecution; (4) famine; (5) nakedness; (6) peril; (7) sword. And to shew that such was the lot of the saints even under the New Testament, Paul quotes a psalm referring to Old Testament saints, thus assuming the oneness of the church in all ages, even in suffering and in consolation; the oneness of the church in battle and in victory. One faith, one covenant, one blood, one church, from the beginning!

Here are two things: (1) the victory; (2) How to win it.

I. The victory. Our life is a warfare.

(1.) The good fight. It is to battle that the church is called; not to a mere parade, or review, or display of arms; each saint is to war a good warfare; for the moment we take our stand on Christ's side, our enemies gather to the assault.

(2.) The victory. Conquerors! Yes; not merely warriors but conquerors. This verse links itself with the seven promises to the seven conquerors in the churches of Asia. To him that overcometh, is the message sent.

(3.) The abundant victory. For this is the meaning of the word (
ύπεζνιχώμεν). It corresponds to Peter's expression as to the "abundant entrance into the kingdom" (2 Peter 1:2). It is not a mere victory, no more—a bare overthrow of the enemies, but a complete and glorious victory. It is not being "saved so as by fire,"—mere salvation and nothing beyond, but a marvelous and perfect salvation. Yes, that which we win is an "abundant victory."

(4.) The victory over all the sevenfold evils. We are made to triumph over them,—every one of them. They assail us, we meet them face to face. Each is in itself an evil, a sorrow, a pang; or rather a series,—a long series it may be of such,—but over each of them in succession we triumph: "Thou shall tread upon the lion and the adder, the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under foot" (Psalm 91:13). Thus evil becomes good, and time bitter sweet.

(5.) The victory through means of these sevenfold evils. For this I suppose to be the real point of the passage;—"Nay, it is in all these things (or rather by means of as,
έν very often signifies), that we win an abundant victory." We not only conquer these, but we take them up and make use of them as our weapons for overthrowing our other enemies. These seeming evils are the very instruments of victory. They seem drags—we make them ladders for ascending, wings for raising us above things seen and temporal. Thus we glory in tribulations (Romans 5:3). This is the last and noblest use of trial; which we are apt to lose sight of. It is not always easy thus to use tribulation, and to convert it into a means of triumph; yet certainly it is to this that we are called. Say not, I will submit, I will not murmur, I will try to fight. All this is right; but thou art called to much more than this. So use thy sorrows as to make them the very means of conquer; so use them, as that thou shalt say at last, Had it not been for these tribulations my victory had been a poor one,—but half a victory; thus "out of the eater there shall come forth meat, and out of the strong shall come forth sweetness." We must learn how to use affliction; not passively, but actively; nay, aggressively.

II. The way in which it is won. "Through Him that loved us,"—yes, Him that "loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood."

(1.) He provides the strength. Weakness is ours; and we begin time fight with the acknowledgment of this. But "all power is given" to Christ for us; and out of that fullness of power "we receive." "The power of Christ rests (pitches its tent over us), on us" (2 Corinthians 12:9): "My strength is made perfect in weakness"; so that "when we are weak then we are strong." Another's strength, as well as another's righteousness, is placed at our disposal.

(2.) He provides the weapons. Our weapons are from a divine arsenal,—the tower of David "builded for an armory." Spear, sword, buckler, girdle, and helmet, are all of His making and bestowing. (Ephesians 6:11-15.)

(3.) He provides the battlefield. The skillful general chooses his battlefield. So does our Captain. It is not the choice of the enemy; or of self; still less is it taken up at random, or by chance. It is carefully selected by Him that loved us. The time of battle, the nature of the battle, the duration of the battle, the intensity or peculiarity of the assault, all these are chosen by Him. Each sorrow, each tribulation, each peril, is of His appointment in every item and detail.

(4.) He provides the battle cry. As at Trafalgar, the word that Nelson sent through each vessel and every heart, was, "England expects every man to do his duty"; so our Captain gives His battle words. They are such as these: "The love of Christ constraineth us"; "Who is he that condemneth"? "fight the good fight of faith"; "behold I come quickly."

(5.) He provides the rewards. Of these, seven are named in the epistles to the Asian churches. These are representative rewards, as the churches are representative churches. Each reward is glorious; and each corresponding with the battle and the victory.

O Christian! fight bravely. Face every enemy, small or great. Turn the guns of the enemy against himself. Seize the hostile batteries, and man them. It is an evil day; a day of yielding and compromise. Stand fast in the faith, and in the Lord.