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Description: Completed Stature in Christ
Completed Stature in Christ
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
We are coming to the next verse in Ephesians, loved ones. And you get the continuity of it if you
look at Ephesians 4 and remember the introductory words. Ephesians 4:8, “Therefore it is said,
‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’
(In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of
the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill
all things.) And his gifts” (that he gives) “were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some
evangelists, some pastors and teachers.”
And the reason he gave those gifts of people including ourselves is, “to equip the saints for the
work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” And then you remember we said, so often we
think, “Oh that is building a big church. That is what it is. It is for building something big that
people can see.” And of course God brings it right down to earth in verse 13, “Until we all attain
to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure
of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” And that is the purpose.
It is so hard to be sure that you are really hearing me when I say that the purpose of your life is
for the world to see Jesus in a way that they do not see him through any of the rest of us. That is
it. That is the purpose of your life. There is an expression of Jesus that can only come through
Why I am going slow on it is I just know I am fighting, inside your dear head, the feeling, “Well, I
know, you mean we are all to be like Jesus, and I am to be like Jesus, too.” No! No! God wouldn’t
have bothered making you if that is what it was to make you. He is not glorified by more people
than just one good one. He is not glorified by the number of people he has. God is not foolish.
He is not like that. He is not somebody who is glorified because there are a whole lot of people
around him who are like him. He is glorified when a particular part of himself that he has made
possible inside you is seen.
So there is a picture or an expression of Jesus that can come through you that won’t come through
any of the rest of us. And that is what all this is about.
I had cause during the night sometime, because I happened to have emailed to the wife of the
gentleman who told me about the Holy Spirit, Bob Trozen, who is very dear to the two of us [Pastor
and Dr. O’Neill]. And I was thinking about everything, about the church [Campus Church] and
everything that had happened, and all that, and it came home to me more and more clearly, you and I
have been given an opportunity by God to fulfill the purpose for which we were made, in a strange
way, in a very advantageous situation. And the purpose is that you, yourself would express Jesus and
he would express himself through you in a way he won’t express himself through anyone else. And
that is the purpose of your life. And that is why you are here.
Put it this way. There will be a moment when you are lying on the bed (and I will, too). There
will be a moment when you will be lying on the bed, and your dearest and nearest will be miles away
from you. They could be right beside you holding your hand. But you will be just on the edge there
of eternity. And at that moment you will be able to look and say, Lord Jesus, you being in me is
the only thing that matters. You being what you want to be in me now, at this moment, is the only
thing that matters. And that is a great privilege, a great blessing, because in a way it is such a
lonely moment — often not lonely because nobody is present, because often too many people are
present, especially if you do it in the hospital. But you, yourself are separated by a huge gulf.
But it will be so good at that moment to know why you are here and to know the only thing that
And that is the only thing that matters now. And that is the purpose that God has for each of us.
And that is the purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit who brings gifts and then also brings
fruit of the Spirit, equips us with abilities and then cleanses our heart through his own presence,
and makes us inside like Jesus. And that is the purpose of all of that. And that is what Paul is
And then of course he expresses what happens if you do not make that the whole purpose of your life.
And of course if you vary from that you can lose your way completely. You can lose everything.
You can caught up in all kinds of ridiculous things.
And that is what he says in this next verse, Ephesians 4:14. Verse 13 runs, “Until we all attain to
the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of
the stature of the fullness of Christ.” And then verse 14, “So that we may no longer be children,
tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their
craftiness in deceitful wiles.”
And if you once take your eyes from the central purpose that God has created us in Christ for — if
you once take your eyes off that, then all hell can break loose. Then you are carried like
“children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men,
by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.” And that is what happened again and again.
It was quite interesting — I can give examples of course among ourselves — but it was quite
interesting because Bethany Fellowship really was after the Holy Spirit. And then you remember the
Lutheran pastor who preached on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and he was very much loved in Bethany
Fellowship, and was a great blessing. But he also wrote then one of the “family” books, the
“Christian Family”, and slide, slide, slide.
Slowly, as the eyes came off Jesus and off the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and then went on to “the
Christian family”, it wasn’t long before Alec Brooks was telling me how people were more preoccupied
with their children now and how successful they were than getting them off to the mission field.
And the thing slides to emphasis on “family, family.”
And that is what God is warning about here, that once your eyes go off the central purpose that he
has for each of us, to be filled with Jesus and to be governed by Jesus, and to express Jesus. Then
you can never tell where you end up.
Of course it was the same — it went on with the “Fellowship” [Bethany]. Then of course the next
step was, “Oh we need help. We don’t just need the Holy Spirit, but we need business consultants.”
So we call in the business consultants to show us how to make the thing successful.
And if you remember, I faced, I was faced with the same thing. The dear fellows [senior brothers in
Campus Church], “Let’s get the business consultants in.” And it was kind of funny, because the
business consultant was a “Turn around expert,” supposedly. He wanted to turn it into a conference
center, the hotel up north. And he did his analysis and he came back and said, “Yes, the problem is
you guys. The problem is not Pastor. He’s had very good ideas…” and da da. But it was funny.
But you “call in the experts.” You are tossed by every wind of doctrine. “This, this! Go this
way!” The other one says, “Go that way.” And you are tossed this way and that way, and can never
arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
We faced all kinds of things. But I remember the dear fellow. He had been a Methodist minister,
therefore felt some affinity for me, but that is where it ended, just the Methodism term. Again the
eyes came off Christ, came off the fullness of the Holy Spirit and went on to how to get rid of the
demons. And the dear guy! He used to demonstrate how to ‘shake’ the evil spirits out of yourself.
So Satan makes monkeys out of God’s people when their eyes come off Jesus.
And you cannot believe… They sway this way with this wind of doctrine, that way with this wind of
doctrine, that way with that wind of doctrine. And they lose all sense of balance. And of course
we all can see with the whole evangelical movement, because it started off with what did seem good.
It did seem certainly good to encourage faithfulness in marriage, and to discourage the business of
having babies, and then changing your mind. So it did seem wise [the evangelical opposition to
abortion]. Yes, abortion is not a good thing. But very quickly many of us began to wonder, “Where
is this thing going?” It is beginning to take over. And again the wind of doctrine blew across.
And people like children: swayed over abortion. “Abortion! Abortion! Abortion!” Until eventually
we have got into this wretched situation where we have actually had Christians, so called
“Christians”, killing doctors, because they run abortion clinics.
And it went the same way, you remember with the whole — I don’t know if some of you remember if
some of you were in the little class that I taught on one of Pat Robertson’s early books, was it his
biography or something? He said very clearly, “I know that it is not right to go into politics.
I’m called to preach the gospel.” And of course that whole thing came apart, and he ended up
running for the presidency. And of course it just expressed the other tendency that was happening
more and more in the Body of Christ. It started off with a real sense of good citizenship, and “you
ought to vote, and make sure you vote. And you ought to take into consideration what people stand
But, once the eyes go off the central — and that is the important thing for us to see. Once our
eyes go off the central purpose of our lives which is to express Christ, or as you said, in the
prayer, maybe, to allow Christ to express himself through us in a way he cannot express himself
through anybody else. It is a partnership between us and our Savior. And once that goes, then
everything is lost, and eventually we changed from the ‘power of the Spirit’ to the ‘power of the
sword’. The whole evangelical movement concentrated then on, “Let’s get the right people into
power. Let’s get the right people into government.” And then the next step is to manage and
manipulate. And then of course the dreadful alliance between them and the whole Republican Party
[American political party]. And so everything is lost.
But again people are swayed by every wind of doctrine, if their eyes go off Jesus, off his dear Word
and off the centrality — that is it — off the centrality. We have one task, and that is to let
Jesus be himself in us. And somehow while you keep your eyes on Jesus, he, himself holds you
steady. And he will hold ‘you’ steady. He will hold you steady individually and as a family if
your eyes stay on him, and if that continues to be the central purpose of your life. But once your
eyes go off that, then you are swayed by every wind of doctrine.
I think, then — you think at the beginning, “Oh it is just a purely negative thing.” But of course
God points out to us that there is a positive evil in it. It is, “So that we may no longer be
children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” But then the positive
evil comes in by Satan’s power, “by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.”
And that of course is especially obvious in the whole political scene, because there are people with
very definite political aims and goals that get in and make use of the apparent loyalty and respect
for God that exists inside the body of Christ. “And the cunning of men by their craftiness in their
deceitful trickery,” comes into action. And of course then really you have opened yourself to them,
and you haven’t the deceit yourself to answer their deceit. So of course there we get into this
hideous position where, not only have you the “Left Behind” heresy where we all get preoccupied with
what itself, is holy truth of the rapture [of the church], and you get involved in all kinds of
circus antics about people in planes and suddenly the person is no longer sitting beside you,
because they have been taken and you have been left behind. And it just becomes a mockery of Christ
and a mockery of his gospel.
And if you say to me, “Well, how can we be guarded?” By keeping our eyes on Jesus; by being very
clear about the heart of our own lives: “What is your dearest desire?” It can’t be for Christian
Corps to be successful. That is not worth two pence. It can’t be anything but that Jesus may
fulfill himself in you and that you may come into the fullness of the stature of Christ. And that
is the purpose of everything that happens to each one of us here. Every mistake that I make, every
stupidity that I engage in — and you, presumably have some of the same things in your life —
everyone of them is connected with an indifference and ignoring of Christ within us, a getting used
to putting him into a corner of our lives and just taking his advice, rather than putting him in the
throne of our hearts and taking his commands and obeying them with all our hearts. And while you do
that, he gives you light and he protects you and defends you.
But once our eyes go off that, it doesn’t matter how we smear it over. We can smear it over with,
“Well, I am giving my talents to God” or “He can use these to bring about something.” He can’t use
any of that to bring about anything. He can only use his Son. He can only use his Son’s life in
you. And that alone will enable people to be drawn to him and drawn into his heart.
So, what I say is, each of us have a precious purpose in this life. And it is very clear and very
plain. We are to come into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. You are to be
fully formed in Jesus and he is to be fully formed in you. And that is why God has made us. Let us
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