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Description: The Modern World View of the Gospel 1
Modern World View of the Gospel No. 1
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Last night wasn’t just a bad night. It was a nightmare. It was wild. Somebody (who will remain
nameless) made a deal to buy all the property, Garden Court, on Fourth Street. This wasn’t years ago
— it was in my dream. So they moved right in and leveled one room after the other. I watched the
restaurant being bull dozed off. Then they must have had more land next door because they proceeded
to build a huge manufacturing operation. So they leveled everything and I walked in and they treated
me as nothing. This was now their property. The building was all gone and Campus Church was all
finished. So the dream finished pretty much there.
It was interesting because I saw, “That’s it.” It was just a moment. It was just a second and
whatever God did he did. That was it and it was now gone. No big deal in a way. It’s still a big
deal for me. That’s the way life is passing in this world. Everything is eventually gone. That was
the dream and I awoke knowing that’s the situation. I began to gather myself together and think
about the things. I began to think especially about what one was to do now — what life was to be
now — what was worth doing and what was real and true. That’s pretty much where the dream finished,
not on any great note, but just here I was with no church now and probably saw the passing nature of
it. That it all was a moment in time and it was gone.
So I thought of what am I going to say here today. I knew what I should be doing but it was such a
task that I thought, can I push out in this direction? I was helped a bit by the fact that Chris,
the realtor, said to me, “I saw you on YouTube.” He wants to know more about O’Neill because he’s
going to sell something to him. So he looked up Ernest O’Neill, I looked up too, and you see all
kinds of things. There’s this corny operation that collects sermons, they’re no dummies, they were
bright kids, I hit my picture and see what I am doing. It was a long sermon and they knew YouTube,
which I don’t know, took only a certain length of video, so they cut the whole sermon into 4 parts.
It’s a great sermon, Cheap Grace. It’s plain as a pikestaff, very clear.
Then I knew I didn’t have much option with you lot but tackle what I was going to tackle when I saw
what the next verse was. Cheap Grace is dead straight. I’m blunt, plain and simple in it. People
think God once had the Ten Commandments where he said you have to obey. Now he saw we couldn’t do it
so he’s changed his line now. He says, “Ok, if you believe my Son died for those of you who don’t
obey the Ten Commandments, you’ll be saved by that.” So I said of course lots of people believe that
and think Yippee, good, it doesn’t matter whether we obey those or not. It depends only on whether
we believe Jesus died for us. That’s how we get in.
That’s cheap grace. So I draw it out clearly and it’s very plain that even I can understand it.
Then I knew I had no option but to tackle today’s verse. It’s Colossians — one that we have partly
tackled before. It’s Colossians 1:5-6, “Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you
have heard before in the Word of the truth, the gospel which has come to you, as indeed in the whole
world it is bearing fruit and growing — so among yourselves, from the day you heard and understood
the grace of God in truth.”
I thought, the sceptic that I am, in the whole world is bearing fruit and growing? I know in a
general kind of way you can do that but, boy, here in America it’s not exactly doing that. The
gospel is not bearing fruit and growing amongst ourselves, it’s probably at an all time low. So many
guys that are supposed to be ministers running after other people’s wives. So many people doing all
kinds of illegal acts under the name of Christianity. I wouldn’t say it’s bearing fruit and
growing. I hope it is among ourselves. In general in the world, I would say ISIS is bearing fruit
Of course the reason is the very thing I was preaching a sermon about. It is cheap grace. Most
people don’t see a challenge in the Gospel, much deliverance in the gospel, they see something that
prompts them to argue about abortion or argue about whether they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ
but not much about being delivered from themselves and living a different life. I wouldn’t say the
Gospel is bearing fruit and growing.
Of course what I was thinking of stepping back from was doing the same thing I have done with you
for what seems a thousand times, saying to you that the gospel most people think about is “believe
in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” It’s believe that Jesus died for your sins and
you’ll get into heaven. Most people think of that as the gospel. If you ask them, what do you think
the gospel is, they would say it is something about how Jesus died for our sins. I think that’s what
people think of. I think the moment you mention gospel on the internet, I’m sure that’s what they
think of. If they are people who are brainwashed with it, they slot right in there, ready for the
whole story of sin and confessing their sin. Really that’s what they think.
Like the ordinary guy, Robin Williams, a supposedly ‘with it’ guy, slick, modern fellow thinks,
“don’t give me that.” That’s those guys that are always crying at you, “Believe in the Lord Jesus
Christ and you shall be saved.” There’s little sense, what a wonderful idea; what a wonderful truth.
No one thinks of that. We like to think it is; we like to think there are all kinds of people who
are sinning like crazy and under terrible guilt. They are looking for some way out of that guilt.
They’re not, they’re not! People are not conscious of their sinning or that they are under their
guilt. When you come to them with this medicine, they say, “I haven’t got that disease. You are
coming to me with something I don’t need.”
I’d say to you we need to waken up and see that. The real gospel is far better than that. Paul ends
with “that you understand the grace of God in truth.” They don’t understand the grace of God in
truth; even we are just beginning to understand it. I don’t think people do. If you ask, do you
understand grace, they would say it’s God’s undeserved favor. It’s God forgiving us our sins. Of
course the grace of God is far, far more than that. So again today I would remind you, the grace of
God is — our Father has a dear Son whom he loves and they are living together in peace, love and
happiness. They have created a whole universe and they want others like themselves who they can
share their love with and share their universe with. That’s why they made us.
They knew we would never be able to share their love unless we were able to love ourselves. That is,
we ourselves would be able to love other people. We could never do that unless we were free not to
love because love means your own goodwill going out to another person because you choose to send it
out to them. You can’t love unless you are free not to love; unless you are free to do whatever you
want. They therefore determined that we would have that choice. They had to allow us to choose
whatever we want. They knew there was nothing that existed outside them. There is nothing outside
God. So they knew they had to let us choose nothing if we wanted to. So they did that.
So our Father put us in this world and his Son could live in us to develop the world the way he
planned. He gave us the freedom to say yes or to say no to that. If we wanted, to develop the world
whatever way we wanted, so that we would be able to see what the alternative to him was. That is the
only way we could have free will — if we were free to choose something other than him. It wasn’t
free will if he said, “I’m here and I’m the only one you’ve got; now use your free will.” He had to
give us an alternative to himself and that’s how they did it. They allowed us to make the world
whatever way we wanted; to develop it whatever way we wanted and to do that freely so that we would
see there is a choice.
There is a choice here; we have to choose this way or that way. That’s the situation we are in. They
have given us the freedom to choose.
That meant, of course, that we would be nothing because there is nothing out there. If we chose
nothing we would be nothing. So for that reason God made us inside his own Son. It’s unthinkable.
It’s absolutely unthinkable. Who would ever dream of doing that, knowing these people might choose
all that you weren’t. They might choose everything that you are unlike; might choose nothingness;
choose the very opposite of what you are like — opposite of every virtue you have — they may
choose. You make that person inside your own Son! It’s like making a person capable of getting
cancer and then putting that person inside your own Son. That’s what he did.
He made us inside his own Son so that we would have life — we would have eternal life — yet be
able to make the choice. That’s what happens at the moment. We choose whatever we want but we do it
inside his own Son and his Son has to bear that sin and bear it and bear it. Our Father committed
himself to doing that forever.
Now that stops a person in their tracks. Nobody knows that — I agree with you — nobody knows that.
We all know fine well; we all know God and Jesus; in our own minds we know what we need if we are
bringing somebody into our family. It is a dreadful blindness that prevents people even imagining
this. It’s all plain sailing if you let your mind move along. It’s obvious this is what happened.
It’s obvious this is what they have done because it is obvious to all of us that there is no
alternative to God. There’s no alternative to him. There’s only God and not God. So he has allowed
us to do that.
It is staggering when then you take the next step, and you point out: when is that going to stop?
When is he going to pull the plug? When is he going to stop this madness of committing himself to
this kind of torture? Because, of course, it is obvious that the death of Jesus was him expressing
that in a temporal life here. He was expressing in a life of Jesus of Nazareth what he endures
eternally. So, when is he going to pull the plug? That’s where the whole truth is: his steadfast
love will never cease; his mercies will never come to an end. Then that’s what you are faced with,
that he is going to put up with my choices forever? Or for a long, long time if you want. That is
grace beyond anything.
It seems to me that in some way you have to present the heart of God. You have to take the plunge.
I’m not bringing up the old argument of how long is forever — that’s for everybody to decide.
Certainly in the Bible it is the ages of the ages. That’s the term that is used. It seems to me that
you have to try to get that over. You have to sometime stop playing the game. Stop playing this
forensic game which everybody is playing, even the guy in charge of the Genome Project. I can’t
guarantee that he thinks it. But I do think most people are caught in the normal interpretation that
if you believe that Jesus died for your sins you are forgiven. That’s God’s grace.
There’s really no understanding of God’s own pain. We often talk about it. What the Catholic saints
were trying to do — I joke about my stigmata — the saints tried to dwell on the death of Jesus
that they would start to feel some of that. Of course that was almost a psychological experience and
not a spiritual experience. What I have outlined here to us is far nearer the situation than this
little forensic equation that we worked out that everybody talks about — do you believe Jesus died
for your sins — yes, you’re in, no, you’re out. That’s terrible. It’s dreadful. In every way an
insult; it’s not just an insult, it’s inflicting more pain on our dear Father. In some way, however
big the task is (I don’t minimize it!) we have to start thinking through it.
Don’t get tied up on how long is forever. Talk about the ages of the ages if you want. Don’t get
distracted by technicalities. The important thing is, we know fine well that that is the truth. We
know that every little girl that becomes pregnant, we know what God’s heart is doing. He is touched
with our infirmities. He is touched with our tears. We remember the shortest verse in the Bible:
“Jesus wept.” [John 11:35] We know fine well our Father is a tender Father.
So in some way you have to start expressing that. God has brought it to our attention irrespective
of how long that is going to go on. He undoubtedly feels the pain of sin. It seems to me that the
sheer facts of what I just outlined which seem to me as plain as a pike staff, that is what
happened, they plainly set forth the pain of God and what He is faced with. Equally important is
that it sets forth what we all talk about. “God is love, God is love.” Do you think people think
God is love? Do you think anybody is very concerned about God being love? They may use the term but
do you think they believe that God actually loves them? They know he is kind and has given us loving
gifts including the world. They know there is love in this world. But that God is love and that God
loves them? I don’t think for a moment they think that.
There is need. What is our job? Our job is to preach the gospel. What is the gospel? Surely the
good news is that we do not have an impassive hope. We do not have a classical, Greek or Latin God
who doesn’t care for us and who is way up there distant from us, knowing nothing about us. But
surely our gospel is our God is the Father of Jesus. He loves us the way he loves his own Son. He
feels our pain. He feels our suffering because he has made us inside his own Son and he has done
this all because he wants us to live with him forever in love. I think that is why we are here.
I don’t underestimate the difficulty of the task and how you have to think outside the box. You have
to start thinking of images of all kinds, words and illustrations of all kinds; ways of setting it
forth on your website. We cannot continue in this gospel that makes it even, however critical my
comments seem to be to you, you know that I am dead right, the gospel is winning its way
wonderfully, especially here in America. It’s not bearing fruit everywhere. It was, in those days,
because the gospel they preached applied to the great need they had at that time. The overwhelming
need of the Jews was forgiveness of their sins. Undoubtedly that was the emphasis. You cannot say
that was the only emphasis in the New Testament.
Again and again is expressed there the closeness that Christ is to us and that we are in Christ a
part of Him. God and Jesus are very aware that we all are part of them and part of their family.
They want us to be. It seems to me very important that we take the bull by the horns. That’s what I
was looking at with this verse — taking the bull by the horns — this is a big one. I know your
dear hearts believe what I say but we are all caught in the same thing when you preach the gospel —
how do you preach it? You preach it the same way everybody else is preaching it, even though it is
equally ineffective. We all come out with, “You are alright; Jesus died for your sins.”
(cid:9)In truth he did die for our sins. That isn’t the heart of why he died. He died because we are in
Him. He bore in a practical, realistic way every day of his life and our lives. He bears our sins.
He bears them inside himself. Every time we do something insensitive to God, insensitive to somebody
else, he feels that pain. He puts up with it, if you like. Except, the dear Loved One never uses
those words. But forbearing, that’s what it is. Forbearance is putting up with things. We put that
meaning as a reluctant ‘putting up’. ‘Hupomenai’ is the same — it’s the Greek word for patience —
“hupo” is under and ‘menai’ is to remain — remaining under. Forgiveness is remaining under the
thing even though it is hurting you like crazy. You stay — you bear it.
That is what God is doing with us day by day. I do think it isn’t right for us to cover that up. It
isn’t right for us to pretend. Even more than that, you know what people are concerned with. You
know fine well why the social media is so popular because somebody knows what I am doing. If I say
yesterday I went to the circus or yesterday I played tennis with so and so. Or, I just had a
wonderful ice cream. Isn’t it pathetic? You put it on your Facebook page because you want somebody
to know what you’ve done. You want somebody to know what your life is — how you think and how you
It’s what we are dying for. In a way we are dying for love. It’s really more than that. We would be
amazed if we thought the Maker of the universe knew what we had done today. That’s right. They
would be amazed if they knew the Maker of the universe knew what they did today. Of course they
wouldn’t believe it. That’s the situation. It’s not only the true gospel; it’s the gospel people
are dying for. They are dying to know that somebody knows they are here. Then if they thought the
Maker of the universe put them here to express himself through them in a way that he could express
himself through nobody else. “AGH! Don’t tell me lies!” That’s what they would say. You know I am
right. They’d say, “Don’t tell me lies. That’s impossible. My nose isn’t right — I don’t like my
hair — my body isn’t great. No — no, he does not express himself through me in a way he can
express himself through no one else.” How could I put it more strongly? It’s what people are dying
for. It is the true gospel. We have the wherewithal to express it.
No, I agree you are not brilliant website makers. I’m not a brilliant website maker. I understand
that. We are not as brilliant at any of those things as we need to be. But we do believe that God
is gracious and that God will help us. He will give us the ability to do the websites.
So that’s it. Be glad you weren’t in a nightmare. But I think it is worth saying. I probably know
in my stupid self – no, I’m not stupid — I know in my stubborn self that I’ll keep on blasting. I
do think that is why the Father has given us a little life together to do something that will
undoubtedly give you a great joy in your heart and above all will give him a release of his love in
this world. And in that way, enable him to fulfill the travail of his soul.
Let us pray.
Dear Lord, we thank you for your goodness to us. We thank you for the things that you make clear to
us. Then we pray, Father, if we are wrong, you will reveal that to us as we go forward. If we are
right, give us the grace and ability to express the truth and ability of your heart in a way our
brothers and sisters will understand. An understanding that will bring deliverance to many of them
who feel unloved and misunderstood.
We pray, Lord, that you would oversee us, correct our foolish mistakes or our wrong conceptions and
enable us to use the words that express most clearly and concisely the truth and your heart. We
pray, Father, that you would bless and prosper the work of our hands in this regard. Enable our work
in these websites to express these truths.
We thank you, Lord, that you understand we are grass and we do not have all the abilities to do
these things but we believe Lord you are able to impart to us the ability of Christ within us. You,
Lord Jesus, are able to do these things through us and are able to correct the movement of our
hands, our eyes, our ears and minds so that we are able to transmit your love to those who come onto
our websites. We pray, Father, for these things so that you would be glorified by our lives and may
receive some satisfaction by our wills being one with yours and our hearts being close to yours.
Now the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, 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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