“Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ”
This is the first of three occasions in the New Testament where praise is given to ‘the God who is able.’ They are important as they remind us of His absolute power and majesty and His commitment to those who believe and entrust themselves to Him.
Paul’s letter also begins with a reference to the power of God.
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16)
God’s almighty ability (power) to save is matched by His almighty power (ability) to establish us in that salvation and relationship with Him. The meaning is that God is able to build a strong and sound structure upon the foundation that is Christ. In His service Paul and his fellow missionaries would re-visit and communicate with churches that they had planted in order that through them God might establish – build up and strengthen – the communities in their faith and life in Christ.
It is vital to note that it is God who is able to establish us – not we ourselves as individuals or even communities. We have not the wisdom, understanding, love or power to enable us to do so. But God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide, strengthen and equip us. It is God’s power at work within us, individually and in communities of believers, that makes this happen. We can of course ignore Him and try to do it our own way. However the structure that then appears will not be of God and will not withstand the spiritual and other storms that we encounter.
It is the all-powerful God at work within us who creates Christians who are firm, strong and stable –in their developing faith and understanding of the Truth, in their deepening holiness and ability to withstand temptation, in their growing courage and preparedness to live their faith, and in their increasing trust in God’s wonderful love when they fail or fall.
It is not an overnight achievement but a life-long process. In it and through it, however, we do discover that God is at work in all the situations in our lives and all the aspects of our characters. We can realise too that at times our greatest strengths can become our greatest weakness, and our greatest weaknesses become our greatest strengths as they are opened to God. Even failure, sin and weakness are not excluded from God’s work and grace. Indeed, we discern to our amazement just how true it is that,
“in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Feed on God’s word. Pray it into your life. Keep putting your trust in Him.
Father please help me to much more fully trust Your great love for me revealed in Jesus. Help me to live in the knowledge that You are with me at all times, seeking to build and bless me. Amen.