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Description: Promises Jesus wants to Fulfill in Us
Promises Jesus wants to Fulfill in Us
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The verse is so massive that it would take a lifetime to explain it. So it is, of course, Colossians
1:10. So if you would turn to that at least we can start with the words. It is remarkable. It
reads, “To lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work
and increasing in the knowledge of God.” And you remember that follows the verse 9, “And so, from
the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you.” And then, of course we think, “O yeah,
you are very good. You are praying what we all ought to pray,” “Asking that you may be filled with
the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” “Oh yes. We are all for
that. We hope that you will help everybody to understand your will and that is what you want and
that is what we want.” And of course what we have begun to realize is, it is not just the knowledge
of his will in, “What am I going to do tomorrow?” or “What am I going to do next week?”
It is a much more complex thing than that. And you remember how we have tried to describe it.
We’ve tried to remind each other, “Does God know everything?” Of course he knows everything.
“Does he know everything in the present?”
“Everything in the past?”
“Everything in the future?”
“Yes. Yes, I suppose he does. If he doesn’t who does?”
“Does he know the people who will have accidents today?”
“Well he knows all the protons and neutrons. He knows where every detailed particle is in the
universe. He knows their tendency and their movements. He knows the laws that our astrophysicists
aren’t absolutely sure of, when they come to quantum. He knows all that. Yes, yes. I suppose he
does know the future. Yes, he does know what will happen.”
“He knows every young man in New York that will fall this day?”
“Every child that will trip?”
“Every person that will get knocked down by a taxi?”
“Every fire that will explode in China?”
“Every difficulty that I will meet today?”
“And yet he can sleep at night?”
“Yeah, I suppose.”
“How come he can sleep at night?”
“Well, because he has set the thing up so that we have free wills, and he, himself knows what those
free wills will do. And so he knows how it is going to go.”
“And he just lets it go?”
“Eh? Yes, he lets it go because we have to see that we are responsible for our actions and for our
“And that is all he does?”
“Well no. I can’t see how he will do that. He certainly didn’t do it when he came to earth in the
person of his Son. When his Son saw somebody who was sick he laid his hands on them and healed
“So, what about God? How does he operate? If he knows everyone that will fall, everybody that will
trip, everybody that will have an accident, everybody that will do something wrong, does he pass by
on the other side?”
“Well, no. If Jesus said, ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father, and the works that I do, my
Father does, or the works that my Father does I do also.’ No, he must be like Jesus.”
“Then, what about all these things?”
“Well, obviously he has acted upon them, in whatever way he believes is best for the person to grow
up in him into a full person; enables the person to achieve the things that he has planned for him
in his life. He obviously acts. He takes that wrong action or that unexpected event and he works
it into the counsel of his will. I mean, that is what it means that, ‘He was in Christ reconciling
the world to himself.’ He was reconciling all the things that the world does into his own will and
his own plan, so that it will all come together.”
“Then that is what God does day by day?”
“Yes, that is what he must do day by day.”
“Then the things that I will hit tomorrow, that will work to pull my life apart or to run me off the
rails, he will act on that?”
“N-n-not ‘will act’! He ‘has’ acted already, because he sees everything. He sees the end from the
beginning. ‘A thousand years is like one day in his courts.’ He sees everything in a present
moment. So he ‘has’ done it all. I mean that is why he said to them, ‘Behold, I ‘have’ given
Jericho into your hands. All you have to do is march around it. The marching around hasn’t a thing
to do with powers that bring down the walls. I have already brought down the walls. I just want
you to march around in obedience to me. I will do the work of — I have already done the work. I
foresaw this about Jericho millions of years ago, I saw it. And I dealt with it then.'”
And I think that is what we have begun to see. But you really have to run it through your head,
because we are not used to it at all. We’re just so ‘woman centered?’ so ‘man centered’. We are so
‘human centered’ that we look at everything from our point of view. And we have to remind
ourselves, “Now, wait a minute. The truth is God knows all this. And he sleeps well at night
because he has fixed it all. And he is simply allowing these things to take place so that we’ll see
what life without him is like and how impossible it is. And we’ll see the difference between what
is not him and what is him. And that is why he allows all these things to happen. He has already
dealt with them all. How else could he sleep at night when he sees all the agonies of the little
babies that are dying this morning, unless he has affected it all to bring it all into the council
of his will?
So that complicates things considerably. That gives meaning to this. Then we can’t read that with
the old ‘cliché ridden’ interpretation. “And so from the day we have heard of it we have not ceased
to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will.”
And that is why he goes on to the next bit, because we might say, “Oh the knowledge of his will!”
I’ll just ask my father what he did in this situation or ask my pastor what he would do in it. Or
I’ll look up some book and I find, “What would God do in this situation?” Or I think the thing
through myself. It is not that at all. So that I will know his will. I’ll know his will in the
light of what he has done already. I’ll know his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
I’ll know in a spiritually wise way what God is after here and what he has done, and I’ll understand
Why? So that I can walk around the walls of Jericho, because that is probably the most bewildering
part to us. We are always looking at, “Oh! I wonder if there was something in their hands when they
touched the man with leprosy.” Was there was something in their hands that went from their hands
into the man who was paralyzed, so that hey touched him and it actually was a physical transfer of
power of some kind?
Of course the Father is trying to get home to us, “They do that act because I tell them to act, but
that act doesn’t cause anything. The work is already done in my Son on Calvary a million years ago.
That man has already been dealt with. I foresaw that. I’ve set that thing all in motion. I am
telling you to lay your hand on him as much for your benefit and the benefit of those who are
watching as it is for the man himself. The sick man is already made well. I’m simply revealing
what has happened in eternity, revealing it in time at this moment, and because I tell you to put
your hand upon it, it seems that you have caused it. But actually it is just that the two things
have come together at the same moment, the moment that I have released the power from the risen Son
of God at the right hand, released that power down into the man’s body at the same time as you touch
it. They are concomitant acts. They are not causally related.”
And of course it is a whole understanding of our work and our service to God that is utterly
different form the normal. But that is what is at the back of this. It is not just, “I’m going to
pray for you so that you will know God’s will. I’m going to pray for you that somehow you’ll come
across a passage somewhere in a book and you will know what you should do.” Or, “I’m going to hope
that somebody that you counsel with, they will tell you.” It is not that kind of prayer. It is a
prayer that you may deeply understand that God has already fixed all these things. He is in
control. And he has the right moment when he will reveal this in time. And he may use you to
signify it. And that is why at times in the Bible they call miracles, “signs”. At times Jesus
said, “You will see signs,” because it is a sign of the power of God, rather more than just an
overcoming of natural laws.
And of course that is why we are here. But we get all mixed up. We say, “Oh, no. We’re here to do
some good for God.” Or, “We’re here to do what the non-Christians do anyway.” No, no. You can end
up doing, apparently the same thing as a person who doesn’t know God. But if you do it by God’s
revelation and insight and the work of his Spirit within you, it is an entirely different operation.
And it is a different glory to a different person.
And so it is in that spirit that he says, “Pray for that you may be filled with the knowledge of his
will.” And then I would say that the word “filled” is far more important than we think of it,
because the works that men and women of God apparently do – and I say “apparently” because the work
is already done by him. They just signify it as God tells them he is going to manifest it in time.
But those works are under God’s control and they come from his will and they come from his power.
And they are different from the works that are done by ordinary human beings.
So when it comes to being filled, it is being filled with him and his mind and his heart. Any work
that a child of God appears to do comes from a fullness within of God. So first you have to be
filled with him and filled with his heart and his love, and then out of that come works. But the
filling is important, “That you may be filled… That you may be filled with the knowledge of his
will.” That that will preoccupy you above everything else. That will occupy your mind more than
everything else. Then out of that will comes action that is the action of God, himself.
So, in a way, there is no work done by a child of God without a filling. You are filled from the
inside and then that spills out through you. So it is not a preoccupation: “O Lord, help me with
this problem that I have. Help me with this money difficulty,” with a whole concentration on the
problem, the problem, the problem. It is being so filled with the assurance of God’s presence in
you and of his complete ability to supply everything. That is what brings forth the action then.
And then the action is entirely different. And that is why there are two actions that go on in the
world all the time. There are the guys who are drilling for oil, because they have used their
machines to find the oil. And then there is the guy who drills for oil because God has actually
implied that he should do it at that spot. So there are actually miracles going on all the time
even though we don’t know them. But there are people that – it isn’t people, both those who are
known as God’s people and those who aren’t, receive all kinds of little intuitions from God,
himself, who do things that turn out wonderfully. And you say, “Oh, how could they know that?” I’m
not saying that the “twig” guy [water divining with a tree branch] is part of that, because that
seems more connected with the elemental spirits of the universe than anything else. But there are
many other actions that are taken that do not seem practically the appropriate ones. And there does
not seem to be obvious reason for doing them. And you cannot, at times, even justify them. But
they come from God to his people, and they come from that fullness that takes place in his people
that enables them to know, to have a knowledge of his will, and a spiritual understanding.
You can see the importance of it, not only in business, but you can see it in human relationships.
As we joke, Sellers [Peter Sellers, 1925-1980, British film actor, comedian and singer] said, “There
is a time to laugh and a time to cry, and this is not one of them,” you remember; Peter Sellers in
one of his funny movies. There is a time to laugh and a time to cry. And there is a time that is
right to do a thing and a time that is wrong to do a thing. And God’s ways are often very different
from man’s ways. So working by God’s direction and out of God’s fullness is entirely different from
working from man’s own emptiness and his best perception of what is in the world. God allows both
to go together, because in a way they do the same job as all his works, “The left hand of God are
the things that he permits, and the right hand the things that he definitely desires. Some of the
theologians use that distinction. And so there are many things in his left hand that God allows to
happen. And so he allows many people to do things by natural powers, because that again sets forth
the difference between his work and their work. Because there is a tendency of men to spell God
with 2 o’s [good], that ‘goodness’ is the same as God. Well, no. It isn’t always. There are many
good things that are not necessarily of God. And the Father is always involved in giving us
discernment and understanding about that. So he allows, often, very good things to be done by power
that is not his. Yet it originally comes from him for he has made human beings, but they are not
directly a work that he has done on Calvary.
But then there are Calvary works. And that is what we are involved in. That is what God has called
us to. That is why it is important that we come to a fullness of knowledge and wisdom and spiritual
understanding, because that is how you do the things that God himself has done. So there needs to
be a closeness between us and our Father so that we see things from his view point and are
preoccupied with him and not with the problem itself. And that is what he [Paul] is praying for,
“That we would have that knowledge, a knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and
So, I hoped to be further on with that than I am, so I’d better move to verse 10.
[Galatians 1:10] “To lead a life worthy of the Lord.” Now, normally, you see, we think, “Oh it is a
much humbler thing to say, ‘Oh, I couldn’t do it like Jesus would do it. Oh no. ‘To lead a life
worthy of the Lord?’ Who could do that? Who? Who could live…?” We can get uppity and quite pious
about it. “Who? Who would dare to say he is living a life worthy of the Lord? I mean, the Lord
alone could lead that…that… Um, wait a minute. The Lord alone could lead that? Oh, yes, I see.
Oh…” There is only one way to live a life worthy of the Lord, and that is the Lord leading it.
“Not I, but Christ.”
But that is what he prays, “That we would lead a life worthy of the Lord.’ [says it emotionally] I
cry because of our ridiculous stupidity and proud stubbornness in this regard. Because we can be so
humble about our own failings. “Well, I’m just trying to be the best Christian I can.”
Well, yes. How about stepping aside and letting him do it himself?
So we are called to lead a life worthy of the Lord. And I think where we get into trouble is, we
decide, “Well, we can’t obviously do that. So we’ll do our best.” We’ll do an imitation. We’ll do
a close copy. “Well, you know, I couldn’t do it like Jesus would do it.”
So then it is not far from that to slipping into an apologetic excuse for our failings. “Well, you
know, I can’t do it the way Jesus would do it. I’m just a foot soldier. I’m just doing my best.”
But that is not what the Father says here. He says that you are to live a life worthy of the Lord.
“Your life is to remind people of the Savior, not remind people that you are a good person, not to
draw their attention to you and your faithfulness or your religiosity, or your Christianity, or your
ethics, or even your faithfulness to your Lord. Because that is all still concentrating on you.
You’re here so that a person may see right through you and see something divine, something above the
norm, something that comes from another world. You’re here to live a life worthy of the Lord.
It is actually worthwhile even to change our minds about that. It is worth our while. You cannot
produce it by your own right thinking, but you at least can assist it. At least you can stop
opposing it by thinking, “I am not just, even the representative of Jesus. I am the only glimpse of
him they will get today.
And of course it lifts everything away from your obedience and what you think of this situation and
whether you are comfortable with it or not, or whether you are happy with it or not or whether it is
an easy thing for you or not. It lifts it all up. You think, “Hey, that is unimportant. The
Savior, Lord, it’s you. This is your act. This is your situation. Here, here’s my hand. You do it
the way you do it, the way you want it done.”
So it is part of that selflessness. It is part of that abandonment of self. It is part of that
indifference to self that enables you to lift right above your own little preoccupation with your
comfort or what you’d like or what you prefer. And it lifts you out of that miserable, crawling,
self-centered, ego-centric existence. And you realize, “I’m just the expression of Jesus here. It
is what he wants that counts.”
So that is why he says that. “I pray that you may live a life worthy of the Lord,” because no other
life is worth living, because it is your own only, but to “live a life worthy of the Lord.”
And that is why it goes on. You know it is ridiculous, “Pleasing to him.” “Fully pleasing to him!”
“Fully pleasing.” You know yourself, you’ve had it if you’ve ever tried to describe the victorious
life. “Well, now. You don’t mean you have to be perfect.” “Fully pleasing to the…” “Fully
pleasing…” “Fully pleasing to the Lord?” “To lead a life worthy of the Lord? Fully pleasing to
“Impossible. It’s impossible to be fully pleasing to God. We’re imperfect beings. We do our best,
but we cannot live a life fully pleasing to him.”
Well, this is what he says. But I think that is what it is. It is that God would look down upon us
and he’d see his Son in all his beauty. That is it. That is the plan.
And each of us are pathetic little creatures, I agree with you. And I think we’re nothing. But God
looks upon us as his Son. And he looks to see his Son’s actions and his Son’s attitude, and his
Son’s feelings, and his Son’s will. And that is why this man prays, “That we may lead a life worthy
of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, a life where Jesus is not uncomfortable, where he does not feel
embarrassed, where he does not feel ashamed, where he does not feel pain, but a life that he is
pleased with, where his Father looks upon him and he is well pleased.
I agree with any of you. We are all brought up in the same society. I agree with any of you who
say, “This is ridiculous! This is not possible. You always need his blood to cover you sins.”
Well, we always need his blood, but our sins are what he took away. And we are meant to be fully
pleasing to him. So it is very strong. “Fully pleasing to him.”
And then of course, you can see where it all comes to. “Bearing fruit in every good work.” And of
course it reminds you, “You are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which he
has prepared before hand that you should walk in them.” [Ephesians 2:10] It is all there; all these
things have been done in Jesus. These things have been done in Jesus. These works are prepared
beforehand; only “that you should walk in them.” You don’t need to do them. You lay a hand on the
person, but that is not what does the work. The work was done on Calvary. It is a work that has
been done already, a work that has already been achieved. It is part of the perfect world that God
has already built in another part of this universe. It is the new Jerusalem that is already in
existence. It is the heaven that is already real and alive. All the works have been done there.
They are already accomplished. And all you have to do is walk in them.
So, “Bearing fruit in every good work;” every good work that God has already done and he is
expressing and revealing it through you. So it’s more than just the usual interpretation. And of
course you can see an increasing in the knowledge of God every time understanding God more and more.
Every time you do his will, every time you act in a situation according to his intuition within
you, you understand him better; you know him better; you know more the kind of person he really is.
You more and more bow lower and lower because of the love and grace that is in his heart.
And of course as you see — well it is the same you see anything. I remember the dear guy that
built the hole in the wall for a certain person to put their books in, you remember, as a Christmas
present. And you had to be touched by that fellow’s thoughtfulness. Terrible! Ridiculous, but
thoughtfulness as he did that. And so it is with God. Every time you take part with him in
something you have a greater knowledge of him; you understand more how dear a God he is. Every time
you see a Yorkshire terrier beg, who could make a little creature like that? He must be very loving
and very kindly.
And so it is with God. You grow in the knowledge of God every time you take part with him in
something that he has done and you see its effect here on earth, you realize how detailed he is, how
tender he is, and how understanding, and how real is his practical concern for us human beings.
And so it is a life that is fully pleasing to him, and that bears fruit in the good works that you
walk in. And of course that gets the heart of it, doesn’t it? Because that’s what we all are
concerned about. “By their fruits you shall know them.” And bearing fruit means of course, seeing
the life of God spreading to others and seeding them and creating the symptoms of Jesus in the world
And that is why we are here. We want to bear fruit. We want to see others come into Jesus and come
into his reality. And that you can see is the difference between a work that God has already done
on Calvary and that we are simply manifesting and an ordinary good work of human effort that is
done. So two people can be the cause of healing in somebody’s life, but one bears fruit as he does
it and the other simply creates gratitude to the person for his help, because one comes from the
power of God that did the real work and therefore glorifies God. And the other takes advantage of
that and appears to take the glory of it to himself, and therefore does not bear fruit.
So there is a difference between fruit-bearing work and work that isn’t fruit-bearing. And it seems
to me that ties up with our own work particularly, because they can be impressed with your honesty;
they can be impressed with your good business acumen; they can be impressed even with your kindly
voice or your understanding ways; they can be impressed by your helpfulness. But then it is a
different thing for them to bear fruit, to come into touch with the Savior within you. And that is
a different matter. And that is determined, not by the act or the word that you spoke to them, but
by where it came from. And that ties up with your fullness of Jesus or your fullness of yourself.
So it is interesting. Anyway, God is good. Let us pray.
Dear Father we thank you for your goodness and your light. And we thank you that you have called us
into such a life, so full, so thorough and so detailed and extensive, and then, we can see, so
genuine and real. And so we thank you for calling us to this. And we thank you for the opportunity
we have through these days to touch other lives. And we see that the only reason for it and the
only purpose is so that you, yourself can touch them, and that your life can flow from what you have
already done through us and into them.
So, Lord, we give ourselves again to you today and trust you to lead us into such a preoccupation
with you that we do become fully pleasing to you, living a life that is worthy of you, and bearing
fruit in every good work. Lord we thank you that that is your will for us, and we would trust you
to bring it about in this coming week, for your glory.
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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