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Description: Filled with the Knowledge of God’s Will
Filled with the Knowledge of God’s Will
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
It really seems to me so vital and so much the issue in these days, this strange society in which we
live today. I am referring of course to Colossians 1:9. “And so, from the day we heard of it, we
have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all
spiritual wisdom and understanding.” “That you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all
spiritual wisdom and understanding.” And that is my job to explain to you what God’s will is. That
is what is important and although I agree with the enthusiasm of us all here for obeying, “Trust and
obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus,” and obeying God. I am [laughs] generally for
that. So I agree with that.
Yet I do think the great problem today is not that issue of obeying the will of God, but it is this
issue of being filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. And
I really think most people have no idea what that is about at all. And it is too easy for us
ourselves to go to that verse and come away with the idea, “Yes that is what they need. They need a
knowledge of God’s will. That is really what they need. And part of my job is, as I go around
selling this jewelry is to make that clear to them, make it clear to them what God’s will is, and
give them a knowledge of his will. And that is why it is important to discuss this business of
abortion, and put them right about it, make it very clear to them now, what is God’s will for
abortion, and what is God’s will for Trump [Donald John Trump, 1946 -, American real estate
developer, business author, and 2016 U.S presidential candidate], what is God’s will for the
European situation, what is God’s will for mess that finances are in in the banks. My job is to
explain God’s will to them,”
And of course you don’t need me to tell you that so often – it is very honorable and it is admirable
to be concerned with explaining to them God’s will. But you know yourselves, so often it ends up
not explaining God’s will or any interest in God’s will. It ends up explaining the law to them. It
ends up discussing the ethics of abortion or the ethics of managing money. It ends up with ‘things’
and views and doctrinal issues. And you finish the conversation, and you realize, “Well at least
they know what I think about this subject. And I hope that I have cleared them up about some of the
vagueness they have, because it is vagueness that is destroying this society. It is people not
knowing what is right and what is wrong.” And I am with you. Part of the trouble is that. Part of
the trouble, undoubtedly is a great ignorance.
But I would submit to you that that isn’t the deepest problem that exists, and that many of them are
clear what abortion is and whether it is right or wrong. And they are clear about all the other
ethical subjects. And often you do just end up congratulating each other, “Well I’m glad you see it
the way I do.” But there is something unsatisfying about it. I mean, you feel, “Well I did talk
about important things here. And I did make my point clear and my position. So at least they know
that. And to that extent I have certainly dealt with this great issue of the day that we knew would
come about in the times of the Antichrist, when men would not know what is right and what is wrong.
So I have contributed to that. I’ve contributed to the sense of what is right. So in that way I
have borne a good witness today.” But there is still a dryness to it. I mean you still have a
feeling, “Well I did my duty, and I certainly have shared the knowledge of God’s will with them as
this verse says, ‘Pray that you may be filled a knowledge of God’s will.’ And I don’t know about
the rest of it, but certainly they have more understanding of God’s will now. I don’t know that I’d
say that they are filled with a knowledge of his will, but they have knowledge of his will, if I
forget about whether ‘filled’ is important or not, they have a knowledge of his will that they
didn’t have before, and to that extent they are further along than they were. I don’t know too much
about ‘in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,’ but I’ve done the first bit.” 06:13
And yet you feel, “Well, I did it. They know it better than they did. They are clearer about it.
There wasn’t much life in it. I don’t know that I feel they are much closer to God, but they are
certainly clearer about what is what. They are certainly clear about what I think, and they
probably have been helped somewhat themselves. This will maybe help them in the future.” And of
course, that isn’t the problem, really. It is part of the problem, but that is not the deepest
problem at all, because we know that the knowledge of his will gets back to the whole business of,
“Why on earth has he made us? I mean why did he make us? I mean did he make us so that we would all
put up our hands and say, ‘Yes, I’m for this. No I’m against that. No, I’m for this. No I’m against
that’? Well that is going to be pretty boring if we are going to do that for eternity: ‘Oh, what do
you think about this subject? What do you think about… ?’ We’ll wear ourselves out. Besides you
come to the end of the discussion surprisingly quickly. So, why on earth did he make us? Why did
he make us? To have debates? To have a debating society, to have discussion groups, to express our
views to each other?”
And of course he didn’t. Of course, we would be bored to tears with each other here, if all we had
of interest was to discuss politics or to discuss this point of the law or this point of obedience.
It’s that we like to be together, to enjoy each other. You just enjoy each other. It is fun to be
together. You just like each other. You feel close to each other. We feel we understand each
other. We think the same things and we feel the same things. And we have the same attitudes. We
could happily sit with each other and not say a word. And it would be just nice to be together.
And of course we sense that is what our Father wants. That is why he made us. He made us so that
we could love him and so that he could love us. That is why he put us here. And he put us here so
that we would know exactly what he was like and we’d see where we weren’t like that and we would
become like that. And we would be like him, and we would enjoy being with him because we were like
him. And we were like him because part of him was inside us, his dear Son.
And we would say, that is what the knowledge of God’s will is. It is knowing what God is after in
this situation. And that is what we said last time we talked. It is knowing what God is trying to
bring about, what he really wants in this situation, and what he is trying to do in this situation,
and why he is doing it, why he said to us, “I’ve called you friends; I haven’t called you servants,
because a servant doesn’t know what his lord is doing. He doesn’t know why he is doing it. He has
no idea of what is in his heart when he is doing it. But a friend does know. And I’ve called you
friends because I want you to know why I’m doing this. I want you to know what I’m after. I want
you to think the same way as I think, to feel the same things as I feel. I want to enjoy just being
together. I want you to be like me and I want to be like you.”
And so we know that that is part of the knowledge of God’s will, that you may know what God is
trying to bring about here; what is he after?
Nobody has a clue. Nobody even thinks that. Nobody thinks of that. I bet you as you go around the
shops they never think of that. “What is God after? I don’t know what he is after. I don’t even
know why the things are happening that are happening in this world. I don’t know what he is after.
I have no idea what he is — oh, I know he is my Heavenly Father or something and his Son is Jesus
Christ. But I have no idea. It beats me. I don’t know why he lets half the things happen that
happen. I haven’t a clue! And will I like him when I meet him? I don’t know if I’ll ever meet
him. I don’t know if he would have anything to do with me if I did meet him. And I don’t know
whether I’d like him or not. I just — I never think about that.”
That’s it. They never think about that. And I put it to you, in Christendom I don’t think there
are many people who think about that. I don’t think there are many people who think, “I wonder what
God is really like. I mean it may cross their mind for a second, but that is it: a second. But I
don’t think they know. I don’t think they think he is interested in what they think. And I don’t
think they are interested in what he thinks.
But that is what the knowledge of his will is. That is what Paul is praying for, that they will
have a knowledge of God’s will, that they will understand what God is like and what he is after and
what he is trying to bring about. Most of all, they will be interested. Most of all they will be
interested. They will be interested in knowing, why is he doing what he is doing? Why is he doing
this? Not, “Is he against abortion?”
And you know that, way, way back, on either side of the abortion issue, anybody that is on either
side, the deep, deep thing that nobody is much concerned about is what the wee girl feels who has
been caught, what the wee soul is feeling that has been caught.
And the baby? “Oh the baby, the way that it is a baby is, it is an embryo. It is a little animal.”
But the baby, as a little feeling baby, I mean it would make you weep. Wouldn’t it? It would make
you weep, “Baby? Who cares about the baby? Oh we all care about the baby;” that is, the baby as a
thing, as a number, as another case that we can make. But does anybody really feel for the silly
wee girl that has got herself into trouble or the little baby that will be…?
Quite heart breaking! So heart breaking I don’t know that I’ll … I’ll tell it as quickly as I can.
It is in the New York Times this weekend. What happens in China these days is many of them can’t get
jobs. Oh, I’m sorry, they are way in the back and beyond in China. Chi Zhou [Anhui province] I
think is the name of this little city, in a desolate part of China. And there are no jobs. So the
couples end up coupling and having children. And this couple had four children. And this is
reproduced all over China. They had four children and no jobs. First of all the man goes off to a
distant city, miles and miles away, and gets a job. And the wife works on, but it isn’t enough
money. She goes off and gets a job. And this is one instance they have outlined in the New York
Times this weekend, but there are hundreds if not thousands of these going on throughout China. The
two parents are working in different factories in different cities, and the four children are left
in the house to go to school and to take care of themselves. The eldest is 14, the boy. The others
are 6, 5, 2, that kind of thing. And they came back every year, once a year to see the children.
Otherwise the children just looked after themselves in the house; went to school, etc. The wife
missed one year, so she came back this last time after 2 years away.
[Pastor pauses, fighting tears. Dr. O’Neill, Pastor’s wife adds] “They didn’t hurt for food.”
That’s right, they had food, and they had clothes. But of course, they had nobody to look after
them or be interested in them, or care for them. So the boy wrote the letter, “Thanks for your
kindness,” to all the neighbors who of course, hadn’t very much time to give them. “Thanks for your
kindness, but we must go now.” He drank pesticide. [Emotionally repeats] “Thanks for your kindness,
but we must go now.” In another part of the letter he said, “I thought I wouldn’t see 15, so now
I’ll know at 14 what it is like.” And they were cremated the next day.
But it is that total missing of it that runs throughout our society. And of course we are all
concerned with the social problems and this problem, such a shame, of abortion, this view or that
view. But the little souls themselves, it is as if we have forgotten what a heart is.
And so the knowledge of God’s will is badly lacking, but not in the sense that we all think. We all
know what we are supposed to say once. We are all clear about the ethics and the politically
correct views. And we all can be very clear on doctrinal issues and arguments about the Bible or
about evolution. And we are all very good – and I’m sure you all have fallen into the same trap.
We are all very good at advising people what they should do and how they should run their Bible
study or their prayer life or what they should think of this issue or that issue. We are very good
at that, but at transmitting God’s heart, at getting them even to be interested in what God feels,
it is just a blankness. And you know it. There is just a blankness.
Who would ever think of, “I wonder what God feels?” A very odd time we will use that phrase. But
it is significant in our memories because it is so rare that we use it. Nobody is interested in
what God feels. Nobody thinks, “Does God feel when a disaster takes place?” Do we all say, “I
wonder how God feels when he sees these bodies scattered on the ground after a plane crash?”? I
mean he made each one of them individually. He had all kinds of hopes for them. It must break his
heart. Have you ever heard anybody say that? Have you ever even thought it yourself?
So there is a lot to do. And of course here is the wonder of this truth, it is very manageable. It
is a very reasonable and interesting talk to have, because you say something of this to a person
[reference to a jewelry shop owner], and they say to you, “How can I know what God feels?”
“Well, he sent the Spirit of his Son into your heart.” [You say]
[You ask] “Aren’t there sometimes when you are going to do something with a customer, and something
springs up inside you. It is a kindliness. And you feel. ‘Oh for this I’ll give them this extra
little box. It will help them to enjoy this gift, or they can use it to give to somebody. At times
a little thought comes into your mind. You don’t know where it is from, but it is a nice thought.
It is a kindly thought. It is a generous thought. Sometimes it is to your own detriment. But have
you thought that?”
[Owner] “Yeah, but I mean that is just conscience.”
[You] “Yes but, isn’t it true that the good has to come from somebody? The good that comes into
your conscience has to from somebody. I agree with you that there are many things that you do by
conscience just because you’ve been taught to do it, or your society says you should do it. But
aren’t there things that you don’t know where it has come from? That is God’s Son trying to speak
to you and giving you a thought, an idea.”
So there is a whole realm of discussion that you can enter into that is interesting. It is
interesting. It is not dead. It is not dead old religion, nor ethics. It is kind of interesting.
And they kind of say, “Well, yeah. I never thought of that.”
[You] “Well, that is part of what it means. God sent the Bible. God has sent the Spirit of his Son
into our hearts. God has put into each one of us something that he wants to do through us. That is
why you are different from everybody else.”
It opens a whole world. It opens a whole world.
So that is part of what this verse is about. “Pray that you may have a knowledge of God’s will”, and
then, “In all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” And then you get into the whole wisdom thing and
knowledge. Knowledge is truth, and wisdom is how to use truth. And you get into that whole
business of situations, then, and, “What would God do in this situation?”
And of course it is wonderful for a person who doesn’t go to church at all, because he can then take
part in that kind of conversation. “Well, yeah. I wonder what God …” It can be kind of light in a
way, and yet there is truth in it, because you have spoken to something that he has experience in
And of course there is a desperate need for it. There is a desperate need for some people who would
be interested in what God’s heart is, and what his heart is really like, and why they are here. And
of course it is what is desperately lacking in our society. That is why I told the story about the
children, because our society can read that and can drop a few tears momentarily, and back we go to
the normal. We just get used to it. And you have to admit, we are getting used to the shootings.
We are getting used to all kinds of dreadful things, hideous situations where ministers that are
living next door, as in that shooting in the prayer meeting; ministers who live in the same block as
the guy who comes and kills them. So our society is getting harder and harder and more unfeeling.
And it loves to discuss things. It loves to discuss abortion. It loves to discuss politics. It
loves to discuss your views on this or that. But the whole realm of what our attitudes are and
above all what God’s attitude is, there is great deafness and great blindness.
So I would suggest to you that it is something to think about and to pray about, and to examine
yourself on, because you can, in a way, you can guide a conversation. And of course this leads to
an open ended conversation. There is just an openness about it, and there is no where you are
afraid to go with it, because it is expressing things that ‘echo in their hearts’ when you say them.
And of course, behind it all is the sense of warmth. Suddenly a person begins to think, “That is
interesting. I’ve always thought religion was a kind of cold thing, a dead formal thing, a thing
full of political views and attitudes. But I suppose that is right. God must be a person, and he
must have feelings like us. He must have an attitude of some kind. And of course it opens the way,
then, into your own attitude to him, and that he is… It begins to dawn on people, “Maybe he knows
what I am doing. I wonder, does he? I wonder, ‘does he know?’ I wonder would it be OK to be with
him after life. Would it be nice to be with him?”
So there is a whole world of truth that this verse points to, and that I think is our real task as
witnesses. I think that that is what we are witnesses to, witnesses to the heart of God. And I
think that is part of what God has called us to do in our internet, to introduce people to the whole
concept of God’s heart, and what is God thinking and feeling about us these days, and what does he
want us to be like himself?
Let us pray.
Dear Lord, we ask for your wisdom. We pray for your Holy Spirit’s light. We’d ask you to guide us
as we think about these things. And then, Lord, we think of these dear hearts that we meet in
business, and you know, Lord, how easily the conversation can become purely ideological; it become
just a mental exchange of views. And we see, Our Father, that it is far from that, that you are
bending over us and them at this very moment. And your eyes are upon them, and your heart is
yearning for them, and you want to express that yearning through us so that they begin to touch your
heart, and be interested in what you think and what you feel.
Lord, we would pray that you would use us and bring other people to the same conclusions that you
are a real and kind loving father with a heart that has bled on Calvary and that is alive today.
Then, Father, as we think of the dear children in China, we pray, Lord, for them. We cannot know
what to pray. The situation is so massive and touches so many lives. All we can do is pray for
your kindly hand upon every little one that is in this kind of situation, and that you, at that very
moment of death express to them your loving heart, so that they do not have to go into absolute
darkness, so that there is your kindly face, that makes the journey possible for them. We pray,
Father, that you will guide us so that we may be of some help and so that you may use us to express
your heart to our world.
And now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be
with each one of us, now and evermore, Amen.
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