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

Chapter 82 - 2 Corinthians 13:4 - The Strength of Weakness Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


The cross has many aspects, and embodies marvelous truths; all these connected with the Son of God. We learn much of Him in looking to that cross, and reading all its mysteries. No wonder that Paul should so glory in that cross. It contains so much of that which meets the whole case of every needy sinner. It brings out so much of the riches of the grace of God and exhibits to us, in Him who was crucified, the free love of God, that free and perfect love which casteth out fear. The cross contains peace, and the sight of the cross draws forth that peace, and fills our souls with it. The cross contains health, and the sight of it brings all that health into us. The cross is like the sun in the sky, which contains everything which our earth needs for light, and warmth, and health, and gladness. We look, and we are saved. We look, and we are comforted. There is the blood of the great sin-offering, the blood that cleanseth from all sin. There is the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. There is the well of living water, springing up into everlasting life. That cross is both death and life; condemnation and pardon, weakness and strength, shame and glory. It kills, and makes alive; it wounds, and it heals. It is wrath, and it is love; it is terror, and it is tenderness; it is righteousness, and it is grace. It is Satan's victory, and it is Satan's overthrow; it is the world's triumph, and it is the world's destruction. It saves in crucifying, and it crucifies in saving. All hell is there, and all heaven is there; rebellion is there, and reconciliation is there. That cross seems the embodiment of man's unpardonable sin, and consequent rejection and banishment; yet it is the embodiment of an eternal pardon, the meeting-place between God and the sinner, the link that is to bind earth and heaven together for evermore.

But in the passage here, the apostle specially refers to the cross as the manifestation of weakness and of power; the meaning of the statements as follows,—"I the preacher of a crucified Christ am a weak man, but in being so, I am the more like Him whom I preach. He was crucified through weakness; such was the extremity of His weakness that He died under it; He made no use of His divine strength, but gave Himself to His enemies, to be by them crucified and slain His crucifixion was the exhibition of weakness, not of strength; yet He was raised again from the dead by power, the power of God; in the extremity of His weakness, power came in from another quarter. God raised Him up, and highly exalted Him. And as in His cross we see this combination of weakness and strength,—personal weakness and divine strength,—so we see the same in ourselves. We are men utterly without power in ourselves, yet we have the power of God working in us and for us."

This, then, was the apostle's consolation. He was like His Master, weak yet strong, weak in Himself, but strong in God. This was the apostle's triumph, personal weakness attracting to himself divine strength, so that the weaker he was and the emptier, the more the opportunity was afforded for the display of the power of God,—power in weakness, as in the case of his crucified Lord. Thus he knew his Master better than he could otherwise have done; and thus the world was made to know that Master (through the servant's weakness) better than it could otherwise have done.

Such is the church's true position in the world. That of weakness. That which she is to exhibit is the power of weakness; and the moment she loses sight of this she gives up her great testimony, and ceases to walk in apostolic footsteps, and as the follower of Him who was crucified through weakness. Ambition, covetousness of power, dread of personal weakness; unbelief of the divine power, which is placed at faith's disposal,—these have oftentimes utterly demoralized the church of God, and made her a poor earthly company, a mere worldly corporation, elated by position, or wealth, or influence, or learning, or intellect, and not knowing that she was poor, and miserable, and wretched, and blind, and naked. She wanted to be something, where her Master was nothing, and so she did no work for Him. She got what she desired of earthly organization, and bulk, and importance, but the consequence was bareness of soul; she was great among the great, learned among the learned, powerful among the powerful, but she wrought no deliverance in the earth. She was ashamed of the cross and its weakness, and so forfeited her true power, her heavenly standing, her divine influence.

Our own true personal experience is like that of the apostle,—weakness,—in all that the world calls strength,—but drawing in supplies of strength, for work or for suffering, from a fountain of which the world knows nothing. "When I am weak, then am I strong" Let us be content to be weak. Let us glory in weakness. When used by faith, weakness is the mightiest thing on earth; for it affords room for God, and the power of God to work. As in a vacuum, the air rushes in from all sides, so with our weakness, the mighty power of God rushes in to supply it. Thus we are strong, as He was who was crucified through weakness, but who liveth by the power of God.