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God’s Reconciliation of Humanity Through Jesus

God’s Reconciliation of Humanity Through Jesus

2 Corinthians 5:21

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

I feel for the people that want to find truth, or that want to find God, because on the whole in most of our countries, they’re finding information that really doesn’t speak to them. Part of the problem is the old difficulty with Christians or religious people or church people – they’re preaching maybe last year’s gospel or last century’s gospel. I think often today we are preaching at times sin, and at times forgiveness, and at times the old forensic belief, “Jesus died for us, so we don’t have to die. Yippee! We can do what we want.” So they find they’re often listening to things like that that don’t really grip them, and that they are able to make fun of, as “Hell-fire” and that sort of thing.

So it’s not speaking to them. I think that’s the challenge we have on the Internet with the websites. I would like to start at that point.

I would say one of the great diseases or sicknesses today is: What on earth are we here for? I do think there are lots of dear hearts, even from Stephen Hawking the whole way down – I think people are more and more bewildered about why they’re here, and more and more baffled about life. For us with the background of, “The Purpose Inspired Life” and all those books – there’s a tendency to say, “Oh, no. People don’t wonder about that.” I think they do. I think people are bewildered.

I think they are increasingly bewildered as the education system falls apart, and we cease more and more to see a perspective, or an overall pattern for life, or a platform on which we can stand and judge whether things are right or wrong. I think dear hearts are bewildered, and they’re just grabbing what they can on the way past. There’s a great need for somebody to say plainly, “What are you here for?”

I think it’s obvious that we have a dear Father. I can look at my dear Yorkshire terrier and think he must be very dear to make a funny little fellow like him. But you can look at lots of things in the world to see he’s certainly a person with a sense of humor, and he’s certainly a dear person who is kindly and thoughtful. But there’s a loving Father who has a dear Son, and he wants other sons and daughters like that Son.

That’s it! He wants other children like the one he has. And that’s part of why he made the whole world, and part of why he made us.

I think people have no idea of that at all. They have no idea but that they just came out of the womb of their mother, and that’s them. That’s why Ephesians 2:10 is important. I just pick it because it’s one that most of us know already. But of course there are lots of others. But Ephesians 2:10 is one obvious one.

Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Most dear hearts that don’t go to church think, “Oh, yeah. You’re talking about the Christians. They’re the ones who are created in Christ Jesus. New birth and all that kind of stuff. Yeah – I

remember that!” Except that that doesn’t say that. It says, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” Just “We.” But if you say, “Oh, well, he’s just talking about the Christians there.” Then you’re back to John 1:1.

John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” It implies that everything and everybody was made in Jesus.

If you’re in any doubt of that, then you go to Colossians 1:15. It’s one of the ones that we’re going to come up against as we start the study of Colossians.

Colossians 1:15: “He (Jesus) 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, (in case you won’t accept something) 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.” That’s Jesus!

They don’t believe that. They don’t! They probably don’t know the verse. But they certainly don’t believe that they were made in Christ.

So somehow or another that’s the first thing I think that you have to bring home to dear hearts now. You are not just a wee nothing. You’re not just your mother’s daughter or your father’s son. You were made by the maker of the universe, who wants you to be one of his children. And to that end, he made you part of his only Son.

I don’t think they know that at all. I don’t know how you bring that home on your website. But it seems to me that’s one of the first things you have to do – to give people the sense that they’re part of something bigger than themselves, and that they are actually part of the maker’s only Son.

Then of course what you have to deal with nowadays is, “Oh, how come the world is so bad, if this is such a good God?” So I do think you have to go on to the next point. God wanted them to be his real children, and he wants us to be his real children. And he wants us to love him. And you can’t love if you’re commanded to love. You can’t love if you’re made to do nothing but love. Then you’re just a little machine or a robot. You have to have free will.

I agree with you – you can’t believe it – that a father would make living beings inside his own Son, and then give them free will. I’m with anybody here who says, “That was dumb!”

But that is what he did! It’s amazing. It’s remarkable! But he did give us all free will. He gave free will to every person that he had made inside his own Son.

I remember my mother’s attitude to our home. “Be careful who you bring into our home!” Because she didn’t want somebody messing it up, or spoiling her plans. But that is the attitude we all have. You would not have an only son, and then make inside him lots of other living beings and say, “It’s all yours!” But that’s what our Father did. He did give us free will.

Why? Because we could never love him if we had not free will. You have to be free to choose to love a person – or to reject them and to hate them. You have to be free to do either/or. But God made us

inside his own Son, and gave us the freedom to actually accept what he had planned, or to do what we wanted with his creation. Whatever we wanted – even if it was against him.

Of course, that’s why the world is such a picture now of what it is like to live without God. What we see in our world is not the world God made. It’s a world of God’s that has been corrupted by man’s will and his attitude.

It is true that God in his goodness wanted men not to live an illusion. And he wanted them to know they aren’t living close to him. So he did subject the world and the natural world to futility – so that men would know this is not the way it is meant to be. So there are things in this world that aren’t directly attributed to human beings, but are indirectly connected with the general rejection that they had towards the Maker.

But I think wee souls don’t know that. So they go on forever with the problem of suffering. So we’re continually writing articles on the problem of suffering and how we can get around it, and not dealing with the issue that this was part of God’s desire.

Anyone who loves another person wants to prevent them from doing what will harm them. He’ll do whatever is needed to do that. God in his goodness has allowed all kinds of things to develop that originally were committed by us, and caused by us. So the reason we have those diseases around us is — they’re symptoms that are saying something’s rotten in the state of Denmark.

But I think the world doesn’t know that. So you get Richard Dawkins, or many other people – they’re all still playing the old tunes on the same problem of suffering.

It would be good if you could speak to that clearly and plainly on the Internet, because that’s what God has done. He’s given us freedom to do whatever we want to do.

Then you come to – how long? You know – I’ve already said it to you before. I couldn’t believe it. It’s of course Lamentations 3:22. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” Never? “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.”

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” The Hebrew word is “chesed” – that word that become Hasidim. “Chesed” — “The steadfast love of the Lord NEVER ceases; his mercies never come to an end.”

I know this is where you walk along the close line – the line between orthodoxy and unorthodoxy. But you have to take seriously “never ceases.” Then you have to look at what you’ve felt in your own life, and you’ve said, “That’s my experience! I would have given up on myself years ago.” But he keeps on keeping on.

For those of us who were children in the Second World War, we were very involved with, not only later the nuclear bomb, but during the war the whole “pacifist” thing. Of course you didn’t believe in pacifism, because most of your dads and others were fighting the war. So you didn’t go for pacifism very much. So it wasn’t very high on our agenda of things that we thought were good.

It’s so close to that that it makes you hesitate. But you have to look at our Father’s word. And you have to take seriously his word. You know I encourage you all to think it through yourself. I want

to know what God’s word is. I don’t want to be out on a limb on my own thoughts. But it seems this is so strong. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.”

Why should I have no doubt that God, no matter what his powers are, is serious about giving us our free will? Would you let them beat your Son up? Would you? That’s it! Would you let them do that to your Son? Unless you saw that there would be no love anywhere, unless you preserved free will. Unless you showed a steadfast love that never ceased.

If you asked me, “How long do you think it is?” I think the Father says, “You can have your own way, until you stop – and let me have my way.” I think that’s what he says.

I used to think, “No, no. God wouldn’t let you do something that he thinks is not the right thing.” Then I was surprised how often I could buy a boat, or a motorbike, or something that obviously from the things that happened to me, was not his will. But dear love his dear heart! He let me buy it. But most of all, he is in his Son, reconciling the world to himself, and saying, “Hit me until you stop hitting me. And when you stop hitting me, I will tell you what I want.”

I think that’s what it is. I think it’s as extreme as that. I don’t think it’s any less than that. I think this word means what it says. “The steadfast love of the Lord NEVER ceases.” He never gives up. He keeps on – even if you’re beating him to death – as you did with his Son.

Now I don’t think people know anything about that. I don’t think they think of the heart of God like that at all. I think we were all brought up with Plato’s idea of God. The Roman and Greek writers had a clear idea of God. God is impassive, unaffected by us, and unable to feel what we’re feeling. He’s there. He never changes. He’s just the same all the time – the big ruler who commands and directs.

Many of us were brought up with that idea of God. But very little of that idea of God like in the children’s hymn, that goes “The heart of the eternal is most wonderfully kind.” It is just true, that our Father has made us because he wants us as his dear children, and he wants us to live together.

I thought the European probe that rode on the comet about a month ago was good! because it shows what a great universe he has. It shows how massive the universe is, how much God has out there for us to live in, and the lives that we will live out there. So wonderful and so infinite! And that is our Father, and that is what he has in mind for us.

He will wait, and wait, and wait. Just wait – until we stop. Now I understand that the way we do things now is to say, “That’s wrong, and you should stop it! And if you don’t stop it, this will happen to you, and that will happen to you.” But I don’t think that’s God’s heart. I think his heart is always with everyone that he has made – he does yearn for the work of his hands. He loves what he has made. He will do everything to preserve it, and will keep on keeping on.

I think Jesus is very clear. There will be no fornicators or liars in heaven. But that does not say that God will not put up with them for a long, long time, in order to get them into heaven. It seems to me that’s the blessed truth that comes out of this – that God will never give up.

I think it’s a great blessing to us who have relatives or fathers or mothers that have died. God will not give up! He will keep on. He may disappoint some of us theologians! But he will keep on.

“His steadfast love never ceases.”

The theoretical physicists are beginning to smell a rat somewhere! They’re not sure. But God in his goodness made the world as he wanted it! He made a new world.

It’s hard for us to understand it because of our difficulty with time. We have no idea of infinite time or eternity. We talk about eternity but we really can’t grasp it. But of course, you know it’s all one millisecond. All the past people are all around about us! And your dad and your mom are probably looking down. The whole thing is present in one millisecond. God just runs it as a playback, and runs the film more slowly so that we can see what’s happening!

But time itself like Einstein suggested goes at a different pace, in a different part of the universe. And there, God made the world as it is meant to be. He made the new world. And the new world exists now, and our friends and our relatives exist in that new world.

You can see that there’s plenty of space for it. If we have a space probe that takes 10 years to get 500 million miles, then there’s a little room up there. And there’s a new universe, a new world that God has made.

It exists now, and really is probably what Jesus is referring to as the kingdom of God. The domain of the king. That’s what a kingdom is. A place where the king reigns and rules. The kingdom of God is already in existence. That’s why the Bible says the kingdom of God is “en” – the Greek word is sometimes translated “among” you – but we know it also as “in” you. The kingdom of God is in you, and the kingdom of God is among you. Whenever men and women live in that kingdom, that kingdom is manifested here on earth.

You and I have been given a definite responsibility, and it is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:16: “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself. God put the world into his Son, and destroyed it there and remade it completely. That is the kingdom of God. That kingdom of God exists now. We are people who are reconciling the world to that world – and God does that through us.

There are two ways to deal with a habit that you have in your life. One is the old human way: doing your best, exercising your will, reading the self-help books, and enforcing all good habits. The other way is to have the Holy Spirit bring the perfect “you” from the kingdom of God, into your present life. That’s how God reconciles the world through Christ.

He has made it all right in Jesus. You remember there’s a piece in Galatians I think where Paul says, “The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” {Part of Galatians 6:14} God in Christ destroyed this world in eternity, and remade it anew. That is the kingdom of God world that exists in eternity.

God is able through his Spirit to manifest that in this present world. So there will be two groups

of people as we go on in this present world. There’ll be one group who are humanists, who will try to make the world better than it is by their human efforts. And there will be reconcilers, or ministers of reconciliation, who know that God himself has dealt with this present world, has created it anew in the world beyond time, and that that world through his Spirit can be manifested here — and they will see that done.

It will show itself in many down-to-earth ways. It will come partly when people begin to discover water in new places. We think that oil is no longer the problem, but water will be the problem. There’ll come a time when the world will be desperately in need of water. The Holy Spirit knows where the water is! He knows where God has placed water, even in this present world. He will give through the intuition of his Spirit to some of his ministers an idea of where some of the water is.

My wife objects to me saying penicillin is fungus. But anyway – the same thing will happen with things that affect our medical world as happened in the discovery of penicillin. There’ll be things that people get from the spirit within. Einstein said, “All ideas come from God.”

So there is already an unseen invisible transmission that takes place now from the world in eternity or beyond time – the new world that God created when Jesus rose from the dead – there’s already transmission between that world and this. But God has called us to be ministers of reconciliation.

We always think of reconciliation as getting the black people to like the white people, the Protestant people to like the Catholics! The Holy Spirit is able to reconcile – that is, to bring the reality of the new world that has been created in his Son’s resurrection – able to bring that world into our present world.

You know it’s not because you’ve tried hard and you’ve had enough faith! It isn’t! Faith is perception of reality. Faith is not something you work up inside you. It’s really accepting reality. In a way the best way to get your faith is through seeing what is true through his dear Word. Then it dawns on you, and you do the thing. It dawns on you. You think, “I’ll try this place for water. Now I might try that for this disease.” But it’ll work like that. God will use ministers of reconciliation.

What do they need to be? They need to be people who – it was brought to my mind, the Beatitudes – Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. I thought, “The meek? How shall they inherit the earth?” I can see that one of the things a meek person does have to do is, absolutely trust and be confident that Jesus is doing a certain thing. Certainly in my poor effort, I’ve sensed, “God has done this. You can afford to be silent. You can afford just to be quiet. God has done this.”

It’s something like that. It will be through faith. But not with hands gripped. But faith says, “This is what it is. God has done this. This is what he did through Jesus’ resurrection in the new world. He has done this.” You’ll know when to be quiet.

Probably the truth is – most of what we come up against could be dealt with that way. Probably we do more harm by our interfering because often our interfering is irritability with the situation and discomfort and discontentment with it ourselves, and we’re really trying to bring about what we in our high and mighty ideas think is right, and we won’t wait on God.

So it is a beautiful thing that God has for us. I think he’s called us to be ministers of reconciliation. Let us pray.