Conditions of Power

by Evan H. Hopkins

About the Author

Evan Henry Hopkins (1837-1918) was born in New Grenada, South America, where his parents were temporarily living. He was educated in England and Australia. It was while working in Dorsetshire that a coastguardsman—who had himself become converted only the day before—pointed young Hopkins to the Lord. He then studied at King’s College in London, before his ordination as a deacon in the Church of England. Hopkins’ great and lasting ministry began after his marriage to Isabella Sarah Kitchin, when he became the first vicar of Holy Trinity in Richmond, serving that church from 1870 to 1893.

In 1873, Hopkins heard Robert Pearsall Smith, an American Quaker, teach that sanctification as well as justification was by faith, and that there were promises made by God which needed to be realized which would completely change the Christian’s life. Thereafter Hopkins was one of the leading teachers and exponents of the teaching that “holiness is by faith in Jesus, not by effort of my own,” to quote Frances Ridley Havergal.

<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power” (Col. 1:11).

The essential condition of spiritual power is union with Christ. The power of which we speak is power for practical godliness, personal holiness, and effective service. This power is not from ourselves. It is not something lying dormant within us. It is divine power.

Originally God put power into the hands of man, but he lost it at the fall. Now God has put power in Christ. There it is, for all the members of His body, but we can only have it when we are in vital union with Him.

Of course, all believers—all in whom the Spirit dwells—have some measure of power. If life exists at all there will be some power, however feeble. Look, as an illustration, at a man whose arm is withered. There is union between the hand and the body; but for all practical purposes there is no power for action or service. Here then we have a figure of the condition of things between many a believer and the Source of all power—union and yet no strength.

But we speak of overcoming power. Not that which simply struggles and offers some resistance to sin, but that which rises triumphantly over every wave of temptation. What are the hindrances that stand in the way of the manifestation of power in those who are in union with Christ?

The great hindrance, which lies at the root of every other, is unbelief. We limit God by our unbelief. The avenues of our being which bring us in contact with Christ may become contracted, and the vessel into which the power is to flow may have been reduced to a very small capacity, all through the chilling influences of unbelief. If we are to be filled with the power of God, our faith must grow. Whatever increases our faith will increase our capacity, will open the avenues of our being to God, and the power will flow in.

God will show Himself strong on behalf of him whose heart is perfect towards Him. The condition of power, then, is to have a perfect heart towards God. What do we  mean by a perfect heart? The word in the original means a heart at peace with God. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You” (Is. 26:3). A heart perfect towards God is a heart that rests on Christ’s atoning work—a heart against which no charge can be laid, which is justified from all things, and also in which there is no longer any controversy with God. The Spirit dwells in such a one, not as a Reprover, but as a Comforter.

A “perfect” heart is also a whole heart. Wholeness is one of the primary meanings of holiness. “My son, give Me your heart” (Prov. 23:26). A perfect heart lays itself wholly on the altar of consecration and that altar is Christ.

A perfect heart is also a prepared heart. It is “meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21). When an artisan who is engaged in some elaborate piece of workmanship requiring the highest skill and the best of instruments, lays his hand on a tool and then finds that it has lost its edge, he at once lays it down, and takes up another that is ready for use. He puts forth his power through those instruments that are perfect or “made ready.”

How many of God’s children is He obliged to prepare, by severe discipline if need be, before they are ready for His use! How much of pride and self-will and carnal energy have to be taken out of us, before we are really fit to be used in His service!

A “perfect heart” does not shrink from divine searching. It willingly yields itself to the penetrating, purifying and consuming power of God’s holy fire. Its desire is that Christ should be king over the whole being.

Let this condition of soul be brought about, and there will be no lack of power. God Himself will make perfect His strength in our weakness. It is not that He will show that I am strong. I am ever to be learning my own weakness—that I am weakness itself. But it is that His strength may overshadow me as a tent. Such is the meaning of the words: “That the power of Christ might rest upon me” (2 Cor.12:9).

And when we are ready for this power, how will it be manifested?

<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

• As conquering power. The very first enemy that must be conquered, if we would lead triumphant lives, is Self. The only power that can conquer Self is the power of God. To know what it is to be led forth in triumph by Christ you must first become His captive. Here is the secret of reigning over sin. We must be under divine control; we must know what it is fully to submit to it. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God” (1 Pet. 5:6).

<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

•As sustaining power. Some of God’s children seem to be always struggling to keep themselves up. You see a man in the water. In terror of sinking he begins to struggle, and soon he finds that in spite of all his efforts, he begins to sink. But there is power in that very water to keep him afloat. Faith, it is true, is needed, and certain conditions must be fulfilled. One is, that he must cease from struggling. So it is in finding the power that keeps us spiritually from falling. We must be ready and willing to abandon ourselves to His almighty keeping. The responsibility of keeping us from falling is His; the responsibility of trusting Him to keep us is ours.

<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

•As protecting power. We need this not only over us and under us, but encircling us, “who are being guarded in the power of God.” Let the enemy find you thus guarded, and he will be met by a power which is not yours but God’s. Then he cannot touch you (cf. 1 John 5:18).

<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

•As transforming power. When the tabernacle was finished, God’s presence filled it (Ex. 40:33-35). When we who are the temples of the living God lose the glory we lose the power. God transforms us by filling us, “that you might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19)..

<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

•As overcoming power: power for service, for aggressive work, and for suffering. An able preacher remarked that “the church has in it a power that is ever adequate to the conquest of the world” (Maclaren). This is true, because it is God Himself who is in the church. God said “I will dwell in them and walk among them” (2 Cor. 6:16).

How, then may our faith be increased? There are three things which our faith needs: freedom, food, and activity.

When we are brought to give ourselves wholly to the Lord, then our faith is set free. If our eye is not single our faith will be crippled. Is there any doubtful thing that you are afraid to bring into the light in order to have God’s judgment about it? It is not by trying to believe that faith gets strengthened, but by removing the fetters that keep it bound.

Again, faith needs food. The word of God is the food of faith. The Scriptures are the warrant of faith. If faith is not always occupied with this infallible warrant, it will grow weak and feeble.

Finally, faith needs exercise, just as our body does. All faith is given to be used. We do not know whether we have it at all until we are using it. This comes out in obedience; for what is obedience but faith in action? Faith must carry out into practice that which it believes.

It is as our faith grows that our strength increases. No greater blessing can possibly be desired than the growth of our faith, because this involves the well-being of every other part of our spiritual life.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad