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Friendship With Our Maker

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Eternally in Jesus

Eternally in Jesus

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

Would you turn to Colossians 1, and that’s where I thought of starting. It’s that piece you know, that I think we read in the commissioning service. Colossians 1:15 and it runs, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

And it’s not hard to see from the piling up of sentence after sentence that Jesus is everything, he is everything. And he is the first-born of all creation and in him everything holds together and we ourselves hold together in him. It seems to me important to see that because almost the emphasis in our day of how big we are, how important we are and what do I feel I should do with my life. And particularly, well we know from the me generation, what do I want, what do I like? We joke even about the waiter in America who comes up and presents the menu to you and says, “My favorite is.” Why, who wants to know what your favorite is and probably we’re in the same boat, “It’s my favorite that counts.”

So it seems to me in that way we’ve all got very big in our own eyes and as we grow big in our own eyes the problems grow and we tend to get preoccupied with the very inabilities we have to do the things we want to do. And it seems to me so true and so stabilizing, and so reassuring, and so sane to see that Jesus is the first-born of all creation and that we ourselves are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus and that we are part of Jesus. Then it seems to me important that even with the difficulties our finite minds have about predestination, it seems very important for us to step right back and look at this whole situation and see, “Now alright I can see God does not have to think A, then B, then C. I mean, God’s mind is infinite and he doesn’t even need to think sequentially. Indeed, obviously the meaning of eternity is that there’s a timeless state that does not have A, then B, then C, but it has all A, B, C, and D all in one moment.”

So obviously when God conceived of this whole plan he conceived of it like that. It’s quite important it seems to me that we see that that is reality. That God conceived; we can’t tell what God did before Jesus but obviously the moment he conceived his only begotten son, in that same moment he conceived all of us because it says Jesus was the first-born of all creation. And it implies that from the moment God conceived of having an only begotten son he conceived of that only begotten son being a human being. And he conceived at that same moment of all us human beings being begotten or created in his son.

It just stands to reason if you and I can look at even a little dog and see that it can either do what we tell it to do or not do what we tell it to do, we know fine well that human beings once you give them free will they can either obey you or not. And God obviously saw that in that same second, he saw that his son was going to be filled with lots of little independent creatures that just wanted to do what they wanted to do. And it seems to me at that very moment he was faced with the issue do I want this and am I willing to bear this or am I just going to crush them and force them to be what I want them to be? It’s either that or I’m going to have to bear them and their

rebellions, and their independent wills inside myself and to bear it, and bear it, and bear it until they see what I’m like and until they welcome the position that I’ve given them and they rejoice in me.

And so it seems to me that’s why the Bible says, “The lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world.” And it seems to me that’s why, if you just glance at Ephesians 1, that’s why those statements are made that are so baffling in a way in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even has he chose us in him (in Jesus) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ.” It seems to me that’s the meaning of it all.

And it goes right down to that Verse 9, “For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” That as far as God is concerned the crucifixion and the agony of the crucifixion took place you might say in the second he conceived of Jesus. In that millisecond that he conceived of his only begotten son he conceived of all the rest. And he conceived that in himself he would have to bear all the consequences of these millions of little creatures having their own way, doing their own thing, and he obviously knew his plan with the world, and the earth, and the planets by that time. And knew, could see in a millisecond all of the consequences of us wanting our own way. It didn’t matter what it did to the rest of the ocean, and destroyed the wildlife, we would do it. We would have our own way.

The man who wanted to get drunk would have his own way, and beat his wife, and abuse his children. God saw all that, conceived of all that. You see in some way, in some way we have to step back and I know this is shattering to you. But there’s some truth in the idea that we have to step back and say that God conceived of all that and said, “Behold it is very good.” See, to us it’s unthinkable but in some way God saw that he was rectifying the whole thing in his son. He was going to bear us in his son. He was going to continue to bear us and he was going to hold on to us and he himself in his son was going to bear the pain that really we would have – well pain isn’t the word for what would have happened if he had rejected us from Christ, we would have ceased to exist. We would have lost everything, we would have lost life itself and so when he saw all that he in fact bore all that in that second.

And if you like to say it, the rest is history. The rest is history. The rest is the working out of that. The rest is just the working out of it. He obviously had to allow the world to come about as it is now with us all doing our own things, with us all having our own way, with us slaughtering each other and destroying each other, and causing pain to each other. He had to allow that to happen because that was a part of the reality of free will and we had to see that. We had to see what life would be like apart from him, what life would be like if it was not in him.

And so that’s the purpose of this world. That’s why in a way when we talked this morning, its right to say we cannot actually convert this world into the kingdom of God. It would actually be against God’s very plan to do it. And to the extent that we all get wrapped up as against Jesus’ own words, “If my kingdom were of this world my disciples would fight.” To the extent that we get wrapped up in trying to make the world like heaven, in a way we’re opposing the very plan that God has because every time a thing goes wrong here on earth it is because the rectification of that has taken place already in Christ. God has already born that and turned it around in Jesus. And so he is only

letting the negative be seen because the positive is already created.

He has already created heaven. He has already ended this whole miserable succession of evil that has taken place in our universe and he has already created heaven. And indeed the proof of it is, is there are people there now enjoying heaven. And so everything that is negative here is negative simply so that we will see, “Ah, not just this too shall pass away but this too has passed away.” God has already changed this and turned it around.

That’s why the Bible says, “God has reconciled the world to himself.” God could not live in peace if all these things had not been solved. He could not live in peace. That’s what it means when Jesus says, “Behold I have overcome the world.” And why Revelation talks about over comers. God has already born all this in his son, born it into destruction and raised it up as he meant it to be in his son who sits now with him at his right hand and us in his son with him.

And of course, why I thought it was important to say that today was that speaks right to our condition at this moment. This has not come upon us without God not only knowing it but being willing for it. This whole situation is God’s, he knows this. And the only reason he has allowed it to take place is because he has already turned it around in his son. He has changed it and used it.

So why I wanted to put it to you this way was too often we shared with each other as, “Now encourage your heart, keep your heart up now I’m sure good will come out of this.” Forget that. Of course good can only come out of it because good has come out of it, already God has dealt with this whole situation and has turned the whole thing around and he has no doubt. See why otherwise could God rest in peace at this moment because he loves us so much? How could he rest in peace if he thought, “We’re not sure how this is going to turn out. We’re not sure.” The only reason he can be utterly at peace is that he has reconciled the world to himself. He has overcome the principalities and powers. He has turned the whole thing around in his son Jesus and Jesus being raised from the dead and overcoming death is all of us little creatures inside him being raised from the dead and overcoming death.

And in fact, when you say, “Jesus is the first-born of all creation,” he includes all of us and what has happened to him has happened to us. And so what has happened to Ada, what has happened to Dan, what has happened to Amy, what has happened to Dan, all of that has happened in Jesus and has been turned around in him. But it does change vitally even the fine for speeding you know. I certainly agree we’re not encouraged therefore to be careless, or to be easy going, or to say, “Oh, well God will turn it around.” Because that in itself is almost proof that we’re not responding to the truth that he does love us and he does care what happens to us.

But still he does enable us to deal immediately with the unpleasant things that happen or the things that we feel are not the best. “Alright, but God saw that too. Alright, so it was my fault in this way or was this person’s mistake in that way; alright, but God saw that and God has it turned around.” And I sometimes think even when you think you know, 150 pounds it sounds so terrible and we get all wrapped up and really we know a year down the way and we’ll have forgotten it. And what the Father wants from us is that joyous quick adjustment to reality immediately the thing happens because he knows the only reason he let all the negative occur at all is so that we would see what life would be like apart from him and we would see, “Ah, you mean God has triumphed over this also that’s the only reason for it.”

But of course we live in a world where they have no concept of that and everybody thinks when the thing goes wrong, with things falling apart, this shouldn’t happen. Well actually it should happen, it’s the only thing that can be expected to happen and it’s what will happen right through our lives here on earth. But when we see the reality of it and when we see, “Wait a minute Jesus did not stay in the tomb. He actually rose against death and he actually overcame death. And we are individually members of his body and have been created in him and God’s word assures us that if Christ rises from the dead we also rise with him. Then I see we have been lifted out of it.”

So we are like men and woman who look back, we’re looking back. In fact old Barth has a funny phrase that I felt myself described the thing but it sounds funny. He says, “After Jesus everything is downhill.” But he means it’s kind of just a cruise you know, it’s just easy going. It’s just the working out of something that has already been achieved. So it is important for us to see that’s the reality of our present situation and it’s the reality with the fine for speeding, it’s the reality for the little heart thing, it’s the reality of everything that occurs to us. The only reason God allows negative to be seen at all is so that we’ll see what life apart from him is like but that life has already passed and what we are seeing is just the temporal playing out of something that is already completed in eternity and settled. Let us pray.

Dear Father, we are so small in our minds and so slow to see reality in the brightness of truth but Lord we do thank you for it. We thank you for your patience with us. And we thank you Lord Jesus that you are the most compassionate heart that we could ever know and yet you are rejoicing at this moment. You are filled with Joy and it is only because you know that all things have been already turned around, that our God has not put us down here to fight it out for ourselves or to sort it out but he has put us down here in a situation that is already solved. Where we see the black moments as just little secondary events and the brightness of the sunlight is what is reality.

Oh Lord, we thank you for that. We thank you that that’s the truth of our situation and the truth of Dan and Dan, and Amy, and Ada’s at this very moment that you have in fact foreseen all that would happen this day. You saw it centuries ago and you have already planned for that and you have already redeemed that, and you have really brought out of it the good that you saw was possible right from before the foundation of the world. So Father, we would look up to you and we would rejoice that you have already overcome the world and that you have changed everything and turned everything around.

We would thank you for the light that will come into each of our brothers and sisters hearts during this very day and in the coming days. And the new closeness and the new commitment that you bring about in each of us to loving each other and walking in the light with each other and encouraging each other and building each other up in our most holy faith for your glory. Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each of us now and ever more. Amen.