Philippians 4:14-20 “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Paul is getting to the end of this letter and he is thanking the Philippians for their gift to him. It was not for the first time they had conveyed their love in such a practical way to him, and he is very grateful, and yet he is being careful in his expression of gratitude. He doesn’t want them to think that by thanking them effusively he is hinting at more gifts, and he doesn’t want to corrode them with praise. Don Carson points out that, “There are Christian leaders who are so unrestrained in their praise of people it is hard to avoid the conclusion that they control others by extravagant flattery. Of course, in some cases it is nothing more than a quirk of personality. I recall one professor who came to our home for a meal, he was famous for his fervent courtesy. In that meal we offered him lasagne, or spaghetti and meat sauce – scarcely a high-class evening meal, but something we were going to have with the children that night anyway, and they certainly loved it. The venerable professor went on and on over the wonders of lasagne: ‘Mrs. Carson, this is really lovely; this is an extravagantly glorious repast’ – words to that effect. But as this professor was known for his peculiar brand of hyperbolic courtesy, we took it all in stride. It was simply the way he was. But some Christian leaders, one fears, have adopted so generous a stance in praising others, a stance that is then imitated by others around them, that their churches are no longer Godward. They are nothing but mutual admiration societies” (D.A.Carson, “Basics for Believers, An Exposition of Philippians,” Baker, Grand Rapids, 1996, p.121).
Paul was not like that: “I am amply supplied,” (v.18) he assures them, now that this gift has arrived. What he is looking for is some benefit that can come to them from their generosity, or as he puts it, “what may be credited to your account” (v.17). Paul wants them to have a good credit account in the books of heaven. So, there is this fascinating metaphor of our God keeping, as it were, a record of my life, especially of my deeds of kindness. He will say in that tremendous day, “I was hungry and you fed me. I remember it well. I was in prison and you visited me. Yes, I’ll never forget it. I was without warm clothes and you clothed me. All the ways you helped the least of my own brothers and sisters you were in fact doing it to me.” We can talk of God’s ‘omniscience’, that he knows everything about us, but the children can understand it simply when we say that God loves us so much he keeps a book and records all we do for him. Paul wants the Philippian church to have many more kindnesses and generous actions and practical love known and delighted in by God. The apostle’s concern is to save them from bitterness and a mean spirit, and to encourage them to be gracious. He is anxious that they don’t rationalise meanness with big Bible words and arguments. He wants them to give God joy by their constant cheerful spirits. He wants them to know there are different rewards before us all, and different degrees of delight in heaven. Remember the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount talking about brave and blessed suffering for his sake? “Great will be your reward in heaven,” he says. That is Paul’s concern too. “I want you to gain blessings both in this life and in the life to come by being cheerful givers.”
There was something else. “Do you realise that your gifts to me are also “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (v.18)? “Surely not, Paul. It was just a bit of money we put in the box to be taken to you by our friend Epaphroditus, to help you buy soap, and blankets, and pay someone to do your washing, and get some fresh fruit and parchment and pen and ink in that terrible prison. That’s all,” they said. “Yes, I know that,” the apostle says, “but you did it for one of Christ’s brethren, and so it was a fragrant offering to God. It was as if you had gone right up to God himself and given him a bunch of the costliest flowers. It was very pleasing to him.” When Noah on the mountains of Ararat made a sacrifice to God we know that that didn’t save him. God’s grace had saved him through the ark. The sacrifice he made didn’t curry favour with God and it wasn’t intended to: “Lord, let me praise you for your great deliverance, for your mercy to me and the family and all these animals. We are safe on dry land again and are so grateful,” and God was pleased with the Noah’s whole spirit shown in the sacrifice he made. The gifts which many of you as a congregation give here each week, so sacrificially, they are for the fabric of the building, and towards my salary, and for the missionaries we support, and they are essential, but they are also your offering and sacrifice to the Lord. They speak so well of the seriousness of your faith.
So Paul thanks them humbly and encourages their spirit of generosity, showing what it is coram Deo, that the God who creates such a spirit also recognises and rewards it. There is no way that Paul can repay them. He lacks all such resources, but he knows One who will repay them. Would Paul also be concerned that such sacrificial giving, so often and so much, could bring the Philippians into debt? Here he assures them that this will never happen, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (v.19). God is no man’s debtor, so they can rely on him to meet their needs. The needs they have met are needs which a servant of Christ incurred doing God’s work. So God will pay the bill. If one day the situation is reversed and they might be in prison for their faith and Paul might be at liberty, this same God will provide for them just as generously. So these words are one of the most remarkable statements the apostle Paul ever made. Of course, he is simply echoing the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, that we are not to worry about the basic things of life because God knows what we need
1. GOD HIMSELF WILL SUPPLY ALL OUR NEEDS.
“My God will meet all your needs” (v.19). This God who is a Spirit infinite, eternal, unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and love. The supreme creator of Genesis one. The God who has no limitations, no restrictions, unbound in every way. The only limitation upon him is what he wills to do. This God reveals his Son to Saul of Tarsus and thus becomes his God, but not to Paul alone. Every single Christian can sing,
“Mine, Mine, Mine, I know Thou art mine,
Saviour, dear Saviour, I know Thou art mine.”
“He is ‘my God,'” says Paul: he doesn’t mean that God was his exclusive possession, but that God had become his personal God in life because he was the God whom he had experienced personally. As John Gwyn-Thomas says, “Paul was not talking about a philosophical thought or some unknown god whose altar he had seen in Athens some years before; he was talking about a God whom he knew, the One who had changed the course of his life, the One who had changed the quality of his life, the One who had changed the destiny of his life, the One who had changed the whole of his thinking about the world, about eternity, about everything in the world. Paul said, ‘This God whom I have come to know – he is my God.’ I wonder can we speak in these terms, because this is the great aim of Christianity – to bring us into a personal, living relationship with God through Jesus Christ and if it doesn’t do that, then I don’t know what else it does” (John Gwyn-Thomas, “Rejoice . . . Always!” Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, 1989, p.129). Martin Luther’s great emphasis was that true religion on an experiential level consists of personal pronouns – ‘my’ own sin, and ‘my’ own Saviour. A God who on one level is ‘out there’ and then a God who on another level has become ‘my God.’ What does this imply? What is involved in this relationship?
i] He is the God who is committed to the Christian. He says in his great covenant promise in Genesis, “I will be God for you. I will be your God.” There is a dedication on God’s part to his church. He commits all of himself to all of his people, to each one separately and individually. God gives himself to every single member of his own family: “I will be your caring providing Father.” There is this great paradox, that some Christians have to live in isolation from living fellowships because there is none in their communities. They survive on tapes and magazines, books and conferences, and even this website. They feel their loneliness, asking at times, “Are we right and everyone else wrong?” They struggle to keep up the morale of their children as they attend a tiny fellowship where there are no other children. They don’t want their children to think that they are cranks. Unknown in their communities, but in the eyes of God they are surpassingly important because the Almighty has given himself in commitment to each one of his own children.
Paul has that great phrase about the Son of God, “He loved me and gave himself for me” (Gals. 2:20). It is so personal and passionate a relationship. Here is no detached, non-involved benevolence. Here is a committed God. Here is God’s longing for each one whom he has chosen. Here is a God who is in love with us. We pant for him, like the deer in a dry and barren land longs for the water brooks, but he also pants for us. The Lord said to the twelve that it had been with a desire he had desired to share the Passover with them. Here is a Lord who seeks before he saves the lost. Here is a love for us infinitely reciprocating our love for him. It is all so intensely individual and personal. “He has loved me,” Paul could cry. Samuel Rutherford said, “I did not love him, but he loved me, and he desired to have me. Who could resist that love?”
It is not simply that this universe is loved by its Maker, nor that he loves the human race, but me! He longs for my fellowship; he is involved with me; he delights to see me going to the secret place, closing the door and beginning to talk to him. It is me he wants to hear! It is not a vague and general love of which I happen to be another beneficiary, it is a very particular and personal love. It is almost minute in its detailed care, this God who comes so close to me.
He is the God who has imputed my sin to Christ:
He is the God who in his Son endured my wrath there on Golgotha:
He is the God who has reconciled himself to me by the blood of Christ:
He is the God who has called me and kept me:
He is the God who nourishes and cherishes me:
He is the God who will perfect and glorify me:
He is the God who will present me faultless before the presence of his glory in that great day.
That is the essence of evangelical religion, the particular love of God for his chosen ones. We stand before him not as a blob, not a vague undifferentiated mass of lost men and women, but we are here today as those whose names have been graven in marks of indelible grace upon his heart for all eternity. He was committed in his love for us when he left the bosom of his Father for the womb of Mary. He was committed on Calvary when he bore our sins in his own holy body. He is committed now as he ever lives to plead that we might be with him and behold his glory. He is actually committed to favoured groups, to people like us who meet in this place where he deigns also to join with us in our fellowship and help us. At every moment he is God for us, the God who burns for his church, who plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm as he comes to provide our needs.
ii] He is the God who is appropriated by the Christian. We have responded to this God. We have sat within the sound of his word. We have heard the offer of the gospel, that our sins, like scarlet stains, he can make as white as snow. He has said to us, “Come unto me and I will give you rest.” God has said it so affectionately: “I love you so much that I have blessed you with every good and perfect gift. I have sent to you the gentle rain, sunshine and fruitful seasons. I have dealt with you in your sin and rebellion with exemplary patience and longsuffering. I love you so much that I am now offering you my Son to be your Saviour. Here is Christ dead for your forgiveness, alive to teach and instruct you, ascended to protect and keep you. I love you so much that I am offering him to you to become your Redeemer. I am offering you salvation. I am offering you every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. I am offering you the my love which is in Christ Jesus the Lord.”
This is the Christ who is freely and genuinely offered to us in the good news. Those things that God’s love is saying to you are ‘true truth’ (as Francis Schaeffer said), irrespective of how any of you feel or what any of you have done. God is love, and that is true. God is offering that love to every one of you, and that is also true. But it is strictly an offer. I can perish under the sound of an offer. A master surgeon can offer to remove the cancer, or give me a heart-bypass, or take away the cataracts from my eyes and give me sight. But those are only offers. Have I accepted God’s offer and acted upon it? Has this God become my God? Has this Saviour become my Saviour? Has he become my prophet, priest and king? God has loved the world, true, but I can still perish unless I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Have I come to God? Have I taken Christ. Have I responded to that proffered love that says to me, “Come and I will give you rest?”
It is not enough that God is love. Still sinners go to hell. It was not good enough for Paul that God was sincerely offering the world salvation, Paul had to take it for himself. Paul had made that God his very own God, and this Saviour his very own Saviour. Here is a love we have to respond to. Here is a love to taste and feel. Here is a love on which to launch ourselves for time and eternity. No one here shall perish because God is not love. No one here shall perish because God has failed to offer himself lovingly and sincerely to any of you. But men shall perish because that love is spurned. People shall die because that love is unrequited. They shall be destroyed because they failed to make this God their God. But Paul had done it! “This God whose Son is the Lord Jesus Christ, shall be my God.” Then he served this God continually. This God regulated his life. This God’s glory he pursued. This God’s service was his daily delight. He belonged to this God and he pursued his honour with one steadfast high intent.
Can you say of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, “He is my God”? Have you appropriated his love? Have you committed yourself to walking in fellowship with him through life? Because this is where every Christian life consciously begins, in the awareness that henceforth God is my God. It begins in commitment. It begins in an unbounded enthusiasm to live for him and his glory. This life says, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?” Is that my conviction and something of my experience? So he is the God who is committed to every Christian. He is the God who is appropriated by every Christian.
iii] He is the God who is tested and proved by the Christian. He is the God of my experience, whom I have tried and not found wanting. This is the one of whom we say that he is ‘my God.’ Paul is saying that this God is one upon whom he has cast many a burden. He is a God to whom the apostle turned at moments of acute distress. Tied to the pillar and about to be lashed, God was at his side, meeting his needs. This is the God who had never failed him. When Moses was on the threshold of the promised land facing another great test, he could look back and affirm that not one word of all that the Lord had spoken to him had failed. That is what Paul is saying here. David before the test of Goliath’s menace could say that the Lord had delivered him from the mouth of the lion and the paw of the bear, and he would continue to be with him now as he faced the giant. This is the God the Christian experiences. This is the God we frequently put to the test in the exigencies of our own humdrum lives. This God we have accepted. This God we have known and served. We cried and the Lord answered. We did not cry into a void. Jesus cried into the void that we might never know a forsaking God. From fearful pits he has delivered us. From miry clay he has rescued us. When we waited on the Lord during the hours of darkness joy came in the morning. In the valley of the shadow we were not alone; he was there with his rod and his staff to comfort us. “Lo! I am with you always.” He is a proven God. His promises are verified in our growing relationship with him. That is part of our testimony to the watching world; we have dealt with this God in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, in abundance and in need. We speak of what we know. We may do it with poor lisping stammering tongues, and yet we speak of him as our own God – “My God! He is the one who will meet all our needs.”
Are your needs being met? You don’t want my Saviour so what do you have? All you’ve got is ‘stuff’. A friend of mine saw this bumper sticker on the car in front of him on Friday:
“Get out of my way,
I cannot stop,
I won’t be happy,
Until I shop.”
But after you have shopped and brought home the stuff, and worn it once or twice, and put it in the drawer are you off again? “Get out of my way, I cannot stop, I won’t be happy until I shop.’ And what happens when shopping days are over, and you cannot leave the home? You shop until you drop into the grave. And what then? No shopping in eternity. There is something so superb, so utterly breathtaking about this God who constantly supplies our needs. O the depth of the riches of his wisdom and knowledge. We are almost falling off the edge of the precipice as we contemplate him. He is an absolutely superb God, one in whom we can glory. What a joy to think or speak or write about him.
“Paul had known the faithfulness of God throughout the years. He had known the faithfulness of God towards him when he had been unfaithful to God, so he knew that this God was not only a God of faithfulness but a God of mercy. It was God who had had the power to change him, to revolutionise him not only as an individual but to exercise this power through him to others. He had known the detailed care of God in his life; time and again the Spirit had led him, forbidding him to go into certain areas but telling him to go into others. There was the guidance, the directing, all he had found in God. And of course, he had found something else which was indescribable, he had found that this God loved him and had manifested his love to him in so many different ways. So he wrote ‘My God’, with this warmth of feeling; he is the God of creation and the God of providence over life but, above all, the God of grace, the God who had given him forgiveness freely, inexplicably, who had justified him and given him eternal life. No wonder he rejoiced in the Lord” (John Gwyn-Thomas, op cit, pp.129&130).
Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ response to these words is striking: “I don’t know how you feel, but I can never read words like these without feeling, and I say it deliberately, that the main trouble with us as Christian people is that we are such fools. How we rob ourselves of the riches of grace! How, with our worldly wisdom, we put our little limits upon what God offers us, and oh, how we rob ourselves of so much of the joy of salvation and the glory of Christian living! Take a man like Paul. Was there ever a happier man than this? Take many another saint who has adorned the Christina church. These people at first sight seem to be so reckless and yet how wonderful their lives have been. Well, this is the great doctrine and you can find it in the Old Testament as well. David at the end of his life said, This is my testimony, ‘I have never seen the righteous forsaken, not his seed begging bread.’ That is the Old Testament counterpart of this statement of Paul’s” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “The Life of Peace: Studies in Philippians 3&4,” Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1990, p.235). So the great giver is the God of every Christian.
Where do you find happiness without God? Where is it to be found? There was a discussion on the radio, and an American woman raised this question: “Why do Americans get so cross in restaurants?” The answer the woman suggested was that most Americans live for now. Yesterday is gone. It can’t return. The future is all unknown and unexperienced. All they have is now, and if in this restaurant they think the service is bad and the meal is cold you are destroying their ‘now’. Is all you have ‘now’? Or do you have a God who is from eternity to eternity, a Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday and today and for ever, of whom you can say, “My Lord and my God”?
2. THIS GOD WILL MEET ALL OUR NEEDS.
It is frequently pointed out that it is our needs that he will supply and not all we desire; not the prayer, “O Lord won’t you give me a Mercedes Benz:” not even the misinterpretation of Jabez’ prayer for prosperity. God won’t answer prayers for prosperity or luxury. Paul is not referring to optional extras but to essential requirements. It is very easy in our affluent age to argue that luxuries are our needs. But God himself is the best authority to judge our needs – by his own wise criteria. Paul is talking about what we need to hallow his name; what we need to do his good and perfect will; what we need to love our enemies; what we need to be conformed to the image of his Son; what we need to persevere to the end. For those things we shall lack no good thing. Many desires shall fail; many hopes will be dashed; sometimes our worst fears will be realised or even surpassed, but we will lack, as God is the judge, no good thing. Let us break it down:
“First, there are the role needs – as father, mother, businessman, scholar, housewife, teacher, pastor. Whatever it is that we are doing we have responsibilities attached to that role, we have pressure points, we have needs in that particular sphere, and we have to live in those roles to the glory of God.
“Then we have all got temporal needs in one way or another, circumstances that we want to change, economic pressures, job prospects, unemployment, the question of marriage and other relationships, even finding accommodation, and many other everyday needs. They are needs which involve us in problems of one kind or another.
“There are also our physical needs, lack of good health, especially as we grow older, the pains and aches which come upon us, being house-bound, loneliness which is so often permanent, the fear of death, the nearness of death, all these needs seem to be daily with us.
“Lastly, there are what I call spiritual needs – overcoming sin, growing into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, resisting temptation, having the courage to be Christians where we are, where God has put us, without complaining and grumbling, enduring afflictions, facing death in the Lord Jesus Christ with the glory of heave before us, and having the peace that passes all understanding. All these things are needs, and Paul’s message to these people was, ‘My God shall supply all your needs'” (John Gwyn-Thomas, op cit, p.132). He can help you keep the faith to the end. When one 17th century Covenanter minister in the north of Scotland lay dying he asked that his body be lain to rest across the front door of the church, so that everyone entering Kiltearn church henceforth had to walk across his grave. On the stone he had these words carved, “This stone shall bear witness against the parishioners of Kiltearn if they bring an ungodly minister here.” He kept the faith until the end because God was keeping him.
God will supply all our needs as believers. So if the Lord calls us to a particular branch of special Christian service then he will meet all the financial and material needs incidental to that. He will certainly do it conveniently: he may do it extravagantly, as a reputation increases and Christians want to support an evidently wise stewardship. So it was with George Muller’s orphanages in Bristol. Hundreds of children were cared for. The accounts were published annually, income and expenditure clearly stated. There developed a trust between the churches and the work being done, and so rich supplies were made to that ministry of mercy. God will certainly give wisely because he knows that we cannot serve him without daily bread. But the Lord does not give us what we will need in twenty years’ time. That is often our problem: “Yes, we will stop worrying if you guarantee retirement, or guarantee middle age, or guarantee twenty years’ time.” No way! It is ‘in due season’ that he gives us what we need.
Again, no one goes a-warring at his own expense. Each of us is called to do battle for Jesus Christ as good soldiers. We all have a place in the Christian army, and God says that he will help us, giving us the necessary wisdom, and words, and skill, and eloquence. “I will make you a missionary . . . a Christian worker . . . a youth leader . . . a pastor of God’s church . . . I won’t send you to that work at your own cost. I will supply your gifts and provide all needed abilities. I will do it in a general way and will maintain it habitually day by day.” Then there will be moments of special difficulty, crises will loom up ahead, and things will go wrong in the congregation. Those who lead are the subjects of special harassment and persecution. God will supply their needs
God promises grace to help us in time of need. Often at such times our needs are not material but rather, “Lord, hold me! Keep my heart from breaking. Keep my mind from going under.” The Lord promises that at such moments there is grace to help. It is given in time of need and in sufficient measure to help us. There are times that many of you have experienced already, times of stress and strain . . . sorrow and bereavement . . . bewilderment and pressure . . . when the very framework of our individual lives seems to be collapsing, when we seem parted from what are the most dear and precious things, when in the service of the Lord difficulties seem to accumulate, or hurry upon the heels of the difficulty in front of them right into our lives. In times like that it is easy to be discouraged. There is the temptation to despair . . . to depression . . . to bitterness . . . to simply faint under the rebuke of the Lord. Then our need is for the Lord to hold us up . . . “keep me patient . . . keep me contended . . . keep me courageous . . . keep me dutiful . . . keep me mindful that my chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.” Then, at those times, God will hear and meet us in our needs. No matter the stress, and no matter how tremendous the pressures may be to keep psychologically stable, and maintain the faith, and keep going on the road that leads to the Lamb, the Lord will meet all our needs. That is why the Christian can never justify being discontented because the need can be met.
Gracia and Martin Burnham were the two American missionaries who were captured by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines in May 2001. In the attempt to rescue them Martin, aged 42 was shot dead. Gracia, his wife aged 44, was also shot, but she recovered and she has written a book called “In the Presence of My Enemies” (Tyndale House) about the year she spent living in the jungles of Palawan with the terrorists. She prays every day with her three children for the leading terrorist Umbran who was with them during the kidnapping and had been kind to them, but who now is in prison in Manila. “You just present to Muslims what you believe is true. You present Christianity and Christ’s love, and hope it can change their hearts.” She says, “Our kids are doing good, and they’re not bitter towards God. They don’t try to second guess what happened. They just go on.” God is supplying her needs, but what a horrendous year, with much weeping, and many questions, and a frequent sense of abject weakness.
The question is this: do we believe this promise that God will meet us when we are in need? Do we trust the Lord who is in control of our lives? Are we crying daily to the Lord to uphold us in the strife, and keep us plodding on? God has promised that with every time of testing he will make a way of escape that we will be able to bear it. There are times when Satan’s devices have such an immediacy and power, with such eloquent access to our souls that we start to buckle. Then a defiant and sub-Christain lifestyle seems so attractive. We plead to ourselves and to others that we cannot help it. We plead, “Lord, it’s my upbringing . . . temperament . . . personality . . . the company I keep . . . the weakness of the ministry I sit under . . . ” But there is this great word that says God will meet all your needs. There is always a way of escape. It is never unbearable. It was not unbearable for David to say no to Bathsheba. That temptation was not above what he was able to bear. Whether it came directly from Satan, or from his own indwelling lusts, or from the seduction of the woman, or all three together, it was not unbearable. What is temptation? It is a trial that creates a need. “Lord I am in temptation – meet the need! Lord I am under pressure – meet the need! Lord I am overwhelmed with trouble – meet the need.” When our needs are not met the fault does not lie in God. The fault lies in us that we are not going back to God to take hold of the resources that are available to us. God’s promises to us today are the same as they were to Paul.
3. ACCORDING TO GOD’S GLORIOUS RICHES IN CHRIST JESUS WILL OUR NEEDS BE MET.
The wording is staggering. He says that God will ‘meet’ or ‘supply’ our needs. It is the same word which is translated in the previous verse, ‘I am amply supplied’ (v.18). ‘I have all things and abound.’ So Paul is saying that God shall supply to the full all your need. He will fill to the very brim everything that he sees you really need. Then, Paul goes on to say that he will meet those needs “according to his glorious riches”. Take that in the broadest sense, that God will supply our needs . . . gloriously! In other words, not merely from his wealth, but also in a manner that befits his wealth – on a scale worthy of his wealth. Our God doesn’t give out of his riches. If a millionaire put a mere ten pounds in the collection box then it would be out of his riches, but it wouldn’t be according to his riches. He wouldn’t even know that it had gone. But our Lord’s supply is endless. He will supply your need in a glorious manner. You won’t have to wring it out of him, on your knees, pleading in anguish, having to overcome his reluctance to hear you. It will be in a manner commensurate with the character of the gracious King of love. It will be as the spirits in heaven continually receive the loving smiles of the Saviour.
We sometimes think of God as if he is reluctant to provide for his children. The way we talk about our needs – the fabric needs, the staff needs, the health needs, the financial needs, the sickness needs, the employment needs – we give the impression that all we have is one need after another. Needs, needs, needs! It is not that way. It has never been that way. This is the way it is. God supplying all our needs. The Christian life is not prison fare, it is glorious provision. I wish the whole church could tell the world today how great it is to be in a state of grace, how marvellously God blesses. What great periods of our lives we have known, what happy days we have seen, that there have often been times when God has poured his love over our hearts and it flows down to the hems of our garments. His love is quite extravagant, and we have had strong hope and clear vision and firm assurance. He can fill our hearts with the love of God. He will supply our needs gloriously from the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Or we can expand the phrase even further, “his glorious riches – in Christ Jesus.” Our needs are not met through positive thinking, not by persuading ourselves we can get by. The supply all comes to us through union with Christ, that is, they come to us because of the Lord Jesus. God’s largesse and beneficence comes through this particular channel, through everything that Christ is and has done, especially because of his cross. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Roms. 8:32). The God who sent his only begotten, his well-beloved Son to the cruel cross on Calvary, where his blood was shed and his body was broken in order that we rebel sinners might be saved and pardoned and redeemed. God, who has done that for us, is not going to forsake us in lesser matters like food and bricks and mortar and those temporal matters. The greater that is already done is a guarantee that he will certainly do the lesser. So, the blessings that are ours will be commensurate with the Saviour’s obedience to the death of Golgotha. He will meet us in our needs as Christ deserves. They will come to us from this great Mediator who died for us and now lives for us. Our life and his life are one. Can you imagine God being mean-spirited and reluctant to bless his beloved Son in whom he is well pleased? So we can expect such a prodigality of love from God. The blessings are all ours in Christ Jesus, that is, they are not given to any elite, but to every single person in Christ Jesus. Are you in Christ Jesus? Then God will meet all your needs gloriously.
If this verse is not a promise made by God to every Christian then it is nothing. Hear this affirmation: “My God will meet all your needs.” Seven monosyllables, like the bullets of God aimed at every one’s confidence in his own self-sufficiency. I will do it for you, O house of Israel! “There is no doubt about this, it is not contingent, it is not uncertain, it does not say, ‘perhaps’, ‘maybe’. No! ‘My God will!’ ‘As certainly as I am writing to you,’ says Paul in effect, ‘this will happen to you. I know, I am certain, these are his terms.’ Now Paul does not say that he knows how exactly God is going to do it, and we do not know either. ‘God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.’ . . . Sometimes he takes away in order to give. We have all had an experience of that in one small way or another. He seems to empty before he fills, but he does it, and he will do it. It is certain. It is absolute” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, op cit, p.238).
Do we live as though we were the daily beneficiaries of a God who is limitless in his provision of our needs, because we are? Our Father owns the cattle on the thousand hills. All the reservoirs of oil in the strata under the North Sea are his. He has a multitude of ways and means to meet our needs. When we come to church, I wonder whether we come with an expectation that God will meet us, to encourage, and strengthen us, to meet our needs spiritually, not just the needs of the sufferer and the widow and the orphan, but our own particular needs which always seem more difficult than those of other people. When he supplies a need it is for this reason, that you should better fulfil his purpose for your life.
I leave you with this wonderful passage and this great confidence. Let us all, with all our different needs, renew our faith in the unlimited resources of God. We can look to him to provide for us things temporal and eternal, physical and spiritual. No good thing will he withhold from those who fear him. God give us grace to prove the truth of these words in our lives in our day and for evermore.
18 May 2003 GEOFF THOMAS