In this teaching my purpose is to encourage you to open your mind to greater possibilities in your life. That is, do not accept the status quo. If you can get beyond where you are now, you can start enjoying absolutely everything that God has available for you. Since God went to such tremendous pains to make these things available, then I believe that our privilege, and yes, our responsibility, is to bring them forth into manifestation, into evidence, in the fullest possible manner. When God said “I can do all things in Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13), God said what He meant and meant what He said!
Notice the various emphases that you can put on this verse as you read it. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Shift the emphasis over one word, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” “I can do all things…” and so we could go on right down the line. That is a tremendous statement, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Opening our minds to possibilities
I want to emphasise the phrase “I can do all things…” and open our minds to it, because I believe that sometimes we limit our thinking too much in the Christian world. We are brought up in various traditions, different groups of Christians, and different types of fellowships, and these are somewhat limiting factors to our believing and our expression of a full and free Christian life. I want to open your minds to the fact that God means what He says and says what He means, and that when the Bible says “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” that is what it means.
This verse is part of the Word of God written specifically for the Church and it says here without any shadow of a doubt that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Now the first thing that I want to ask is this: to whom does the “I” refer? There is a chorus, I’m sure you have sung it, that says “God can do anything, anything, God can do anything but fail.” Is that what it means here, God “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”? No, it doesn’t fit, does it? So the “I” cannot mean God. Does it mean Christ? Christ “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”? That doesn’t seem to make sense. What can it mean? “I can do all things,” the apostle Paul wrote under God’s inspiration, “I [Paul] can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
I do not believe you can put any other meaning upon it. I’m tired of people waiting around for God to do things when God is waiting for them to do it! You get nowhere that way, it’s a Mexican stand-off. You must do it! You must act! “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Let’s go on to the next few words, “I can do all things.” Now that is a big promise, isn’t it?
“Geoff, can you do all things?”
“Praise the Lord. Are you sure about that, Geoff?”
“Geoff, can you touch your ear with your elbow?”
“You mean to say that there is a limitation to what you can do, Geoff?”
“There could be!”
“Well, this is dreadful. Here the Word of God says ‘I can do all things’ and you agree with the Word of God, and now you say you can’t touch your ear with your elbow.”
Well, I think that makes the point, doesn’t it? So what does it mean here when it says that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”? The “all things” must relate to the next two words, “through Christ,” or as the Greek text has it, “in Christ”. “I can do all things in Christ”, spiritually. Since God is not a respecter of persons, that is, He treats all His children the same, there is no reason to think that anybody else can do anything better than you, or that you can do anything less than anybody else can do in spiritual matters.
You might know that I’m quite interested in sport and during the recent Olympic Games there were many newspaper articles on athletics, and one caught my eye regarding the way records are being so constantly broken today. The author said there was no sign of any limit, and I want to share with you one point that he made regarding this. He said that from his study he concluded that the barriers to better times are psychological rather than physiological, and that the champion runner’s body might be capable of a faster time but his mind first has to accept that possibility.
Now it is the same for us who believe the Word of God. You can do it, but first of all your mind has to accept the possibility of living a more abundant life. Your mind has to accept the possibility that you can live in divine health. Your mind has to accept the possibility that you can do all things. The possibilities of what you can do in the spiritual life will come to you from the greatness of God’s Word. The Word of God is the Will of God. Only as we know His Word can we know His Will. God’s will is not going to change and He will not tell you today to do something that He has not already told you in His Word that you ought to be doing.
Peter walks on water
In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 14, we have the record of Peter and Jesus walking on the water. I think it’s about time that somebody stood up for Peter. He happens to be my namesake, a wonderful name, but most people make such disparaging remarks about Peter as a result of this incident here. They say that Peter failed to come through with the goods when he could have done so. But I’m going to suggest a slightly different viewpoint regarding Peter, on the basis of this record.
“But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit [or as the Greek text has it, “a ghost” or “phantom”] and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind [was] boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt [hesitate]? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God” (Matthew 14:24-33).
I don’t like the way people say that Peter didn’t do too well here because he started to sink. So what! At least he started to walk. And why shouldn’t we put as much emphasis on the fact that he started to walk as on the fact that he started to sink? The truth I want you to see first of all is that the will of God was known when Jesus said to Peter, “Come” (verse 29). Once the will of God is made plain, you will never be put to shame by walking on it. You will never be put to shame by putting into practice what God wills, absolutely never. In the Book of Romans, chapter 10, it says that “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (verse 11), or “shall not be put to shame” as some of the modern translations have it. You will never be put to shame for believing the will of God. Absolutely never.
I want to tell you also that you will never be put in a place of embarrassment, because God is a gentleman every time. People might try to engineer you into a situation of embarrassment, but God will never embarrass you. God has never asked anybody to swing from the chandeliers. That’s right, I cannot find it in the Word anywhere. God has never told me in the Word to roll all over the floor either, but some people do this! God has not told me in the Bible to do it, so I’m just stubborn enough not to do it. God is a God of order, God is a respectable God, and God wants the best for His people. You can’t tell me that the best thing in life is to roll all over the floor and to swing from the chandeliers. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t get excited, but the limitation of the Word seems to be that there is no request from God to do any of these things.
So the first thing we have to do is to establish the Will of God, and once that is established without a shadow of a doubt, then you will have no problem walking on the basis of God’s Will. Now I’m not suggesting that we go down to the sea or the local river and practise walking on water tomorrow. I do not believe that God, in this day and age, the Church age, the age of the Holy Spirit, expects us to walk on water. There would hardly be a reason for us to do so. God has given us a gift that is sufficient for all our needs and this spiritual equipment enables us to handle any and every situation that we will ever run across. In the normal course of our lives I cannot think of any situation where we would ever need to walk on water. However, I do want to make plain the principle that made it possible for Peter to do this. The principles that made all the miracles possible in the Word of God are the principles that you and I must apply if we are going to enjoy the blessing of God.
It’s your move
“And he [Jesus] said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus” (verse 29). Now I’m going to vote for Peter every time, because of the fact that he got out and walked. If you are going to set the stage for a miracle in your life, once you have established God’s will, the next thing you must do is to act. In fact, let me put it this way: once you have established God’s will, it’s your move (to use a chess term). Man makes the first move in the operation of the power of God. God’s will is signed, sealed, and settled in His Word. Man must make the first move. Peter could have sat there in the boat along with the other “unbelieving” believers right through the storm. It is those disciples with cold feet and a yellow streak who stayed in the boat that should be criticised, not Peter. Peter at least got up and operated his believing. So you must make the first move, and Peter made that move.
Jesus said, “Come”. So what did Peter need to do? Go to the side of the boat and put his foot over, right? Peter had to make the first move; he could have sat there for ever and would never have walked on the water. I’m sure it is God’s will for me to share what I know of His Word with you in this way. I’m sure it is God’s will, but what am I going to do about it? I don’t just sit and pray, “O.K. Lord, let them have it.” No, He wants me to exercise the ability that I have, He wants me to make the first move. And if you are going to “walk on water” or show forth any blessing from God, then once you have found out the will of God, you make the first move.
Man makes the first move, “and when Peter came down out of the ship, he walked on the water to go to Jesus”. Now that takes believing. Believing is an action word, to believe is an action. You receive nothing unless you believe. You don’t receive and then say, “Now I believe.” Anybody can accept something when he or she already has it! You must believe and then you receive. Notice it says that Peter “walked on the water”. He did it!
Believing Requires Action
Let me give you an illustration. Let’s say you go to some person’s home and the only chair that you can see on which to sit is one of those cane chairs that were popular some years ago. You know, the ones with the round arched back and the seat with all the holes drilled in it. You see one of these chairs and the friends that you are visiting say, “Go on, take a seat.” So you go over and glance at that chair and you think, “It’s nice, but it’s old. Will it hold me up?” These thoughts go through your mind sometimes when you look at certain chairs, and I would not be surprised that when you went to sit down on it, that very likely you put out your hand and just wobbled it a little to see how much it gave, before you sat down. If you did believe that chair would hold you, then you had to act, there had to be an action. The action was sitting down on it.
There was a French man named Charles Blondin who did many daring acts in the 1850s. One time he said he was going to wheel a wheelbarrow across Niagara Falls in America. He had a tightrope stretched across Niagara Falls (over 1,000 feet), and took a wheelbarrow and wheeled it across. Everybody congratulated him, and then he said, “Does anybody think I can do it again?” They all said, “Yes,” and so he got back on the rope and pushed the wheel barrow across a second time. And he said once again, “Do you think I can do it again?” And everybody said, “Yes, yes.” So Blondin said “Get in”, but no one was brave enough to get in.
Did they all believe that he could do it? No, they simply agreed mentally that he could. If they had truly believed they would have sat in the wheelbarrow and become the first person in the world to ride across Niagara Falls sitting in a wheelbarrow. Can you see the difference? There has to be an action. Just to say “I believe” means nothing. If you believe, then you will act. Peter believed. Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water. The other people in the boat were disciples who said would follow the Lord anywhere. They just stayed in the boat but Peter got out and walked.
Why Peter sank
What went wrong with Peter? It’s very simple. Peter got his eyes on the limiting circumstances around him rather than having his eyes where they should have been, on the Lord. Verses 30-32 says, “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt [hesitate]?” He started to fear, and wherever there is fear there is no believing. Where there is believing, there will be no fear, for the two cannot live together. The minute Peter looked down, the minute he looked at the circumstances around him and said, “What am I doing here walking on water?”, it was downhill all the way. This is what fear does to people, it gets them off the promises of God and they start sinking!
So let’s not emphasise that Peter allowed himself to be filled with fear. Let’s emphasise the fact and give glory to God that Peter got out of the boat and obeyed the will of God. Peter acted and actually walked on the water. I don’t know how many steps he took because the record does not say, but he did walk on the water. When I first started to drive a car, I did the usual “kangaroo hops” that are so popular with new drivers, but I had to start somewhere, didn’t I? I can remember my father being very gracious and one time while I was in this period of learning, he said I could drive the car to church that morning. When we got to church, he wasn’t at all impressed to find that I’d driven that far with the handbrake on! It just proved what dreadful handbrakes they had on those cars.
Remember the verse that I quoted earlier, “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” Let’s get started, that’s the point I want to emphasise. Let’s find someone who has a little more experience and can remember getting started to encourage us. Let’s get started, for man makes the first move. There are very few miracles in the Bible that you could classify as being one hundred per cent supernatural. I have read many books on the subject, and most writers say these manifestations from God, these “gifts of the Spirit”, are one hundred per cent supernatural, that there is absolutely no element of the natural in them at all. If you read these statements, then you begin thinking, “Why don’t I see them in my own life?” And then you think, “Well, maybe I’m not good enough.” Self-condemnation comes in because of wrong teaching.
Peter had to walk the same way that everybody else has to walk. He had to pick up one foot and put it down, pick up the other foot and put it down. It’s the only way to walk. Some people shout out to joggers, “Pick them up, they’ll go down by themselves.” So there is nothing supernatural at all about walking. Everyone can walk that has strength in their limbs. So what was supernatural about it? The miracle was where he walked, he walked on water! Can you see the principle? If you took the time to read every miracle in the Bible, you would find very few where you did not clearly see both a natural and a supernatural element. If you understand this principle, then you will realise that in the operation of the blessing of God in your life, there is going to be a natural and a supernatural element, there is going to be you and God, working in harmony and co-operation. I like to put it this way: when the “super” and the “natural” get together, the outcome is a miracle.
Like Peter, you can step out on the will of God and see a miracle in your life. All it takes is that first step. It’s your move! You can do all things in Christ Who strengthens you.
Copyright © 1976 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James (Authorised) Version. This article appears on the site: http://www.peterwade.com/.