The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
The Believer's power
To E. M., Tuesday Morning.
Much-beloved and longed-after in the affections of Jesus Christ,
I fear lest when with you I did not give you a clear idea of what I meant about the believer having spiritual power. I have no idea that we possess in the least an independent power. Apart from Christ, we have a power to do evilóbut none to do good; yet after union with Him by the Spirit, and after He has been revealed in the soul through faith, it is our privilege to live by faith on His power, which works against our own evils, (Luke 10:19) and brings forth His good fruit in us. (John 15:5; Phil. 1:11) It is the privilege of faith to take hold of Him by the power of the Spirit for the continued exercise of faith and every other grace, that there may be strength and vigor in the soul.
But then it is asked, "Have we power thus to live in His strength? and have we power thus to take hold of Him?" Yes, we have, through the Spirit, and by reason of our union with Him. He himself says, "Come unto me." He says, "Labor for that labor which endures unto everlasting life." He says further, "Abide in me;" and that in so doing there shall be "much fruit." He does not say these things to mock us. His servant says, "Lay hold on eternal life," "fight the good fight of faith," "put on the Lord Jesus Christ," "walk in Him," &c., &c. He does not say these things for nothing; or only to make us feel we have no poweróbut to stir us up to prove wherein our strength lies. I would much rather be hourly seeking to have these blessed exhortations fulfilled in me than be defining them to a hair's-breadth, and turning back from these messages of the Lord, saying, I have no power. That is a wrong use of creature inability. It has robbed many a soul of the secret of strength, which is to live in another.
In living upon Jesus, we do not become stronger in selfóbut more independent of self, and more happily dependent upon Him who never was a barren wilderness to those who trust in Him, and who says, "From me is your fruit found."
I do not know whether I have made clear to your mind what I wish, namely, that I have no conception of a creature power or self-acting power in the believer; but I believe in the privilege of faith, to go out upon Jesus and find in Him all we need, to rejoice in Him alone, and that even in times of most sensible poverty and barrenness, as Hab. 3:17, 18. Hart's hymn, 88, sets forth the activity of faith very sweetly, and hymn 79, verse 3, shows the very climax, where it is truly, "Not Ióbut Christ lives in me."
So if I were questionedóHave you any spiritual power? the most conclusive answer would be, "Christ is my power," and by faith I have the privilege and benefit thereof. I am all powerlessnessóbut He is power in me and for me, therefore I rather "glory in my infirmity, that His power may rest upon me." "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." May the Lord bring us more into union-privilege and union-power, which is blessed indeed.
From your own most loving but unworthy,
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