Quantum, Infinity and Faith
Quantum, Infinity and Faith
Psalm 139: 1-6
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I was going to read part of a psalm, but prior to reading it, I just say to you, can you picture a ray of sun coming down into a room? I’m sure you’ve often been in this situation: you look up and see all kinds of little specs flying in the ray of the sunlight. You suddenly are aware how many thousands of them they are. Have you got hold of the fact that an electron – I’m thinking of quantum as we are all talking about, what makes up all of the matter that is in the world. Quantum: one electron would be made up of millions of specs. Or rather, I think it’s the other way around! Those specs would have millions of electrons in each of those specs. That’s what we mean when we talk about “quantum”, the small particles that make up the world. Actually, the amazing truth is, the electron is something like 80 percent space, very little matter.
The One who made that knows where every electron is. Just think about it. I mean, he HAS to! Somebody has to. Somebody must know where every electron is. If he knows, or somebody else who made it knows, but our God knows where every one of those electrons are — every second, he knows where every one of those electrons are. Every second, he knows where every electron is. You need to think about it because it is so startling! I’m sure your mind reacts as mine does in that it thinks, “Impossible! Impossible!” – until you reflect and think, “Now wait a minute! If it IS impossible, then who DOES know? Is it chance?” Well, who created chance?
I think you are drawn to it. The shear logic drives you to accept, of course, the truth, he MUST know where every one of those electrons is every second. Let’s start at Psalm 139. What it’s saying, very, very plainly: “Lord, thou hast searched me and known me! Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up.”
“I’m a whole being with billions and billions of electrons! But you know where I sit down and where I stand up.”
“Thou discernest my thoughts from afar. Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou dost beset me behind and before, and layest thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.”
I don’t think we really got hold of the truth: that when God made you, he foresaw everything that you and I would do. I think we are a bit stupid on that. I think we are a bit naive on that. We say, “Well now, wait a minute. What about free will? I mean he doesn’t know what I’m GOING to do.” But that’s what the Bible says. He has beset me behind and before. It’s just something that we can’t get a hold of. We think, [drawing on white board] “Oh, God made this little Martha Nelson back there – but there is a WHOLE life that she has to live and WHO KNOWS what way she will go?” Even parents have a fair idea which way their child will go.
Take anything that we have made. We could tell what it’s going to do or what’s it capable of. Even if I made a wingless glider with wheels on it, I know what weight it would hold. I know how fast it will turn a corner. Even we, who are such crude little creatures, know what we can make. Of course, our Father does not make something while throwing a dice. He does not make a little Martha Nelson
or a little Ernest O’Neill and throw them in there and see what will come out — “Now I wonder what way they will go?” You know he doesn’t. He knows all of our capacities. He knows ALL the things we’ll do. He can see everything. He can see everybody that Martha Nelson will ever meet in her lifetime. Why? Because he sees it all in one moment.
Back to that situation, you remember, with the little guy and the procession going past. He’s down here looking through a hole in the fence. He just sees the one person immediately in front of him. But then, his brother gets up on a roof. He can see the one there in front, the one back there, the whole thing at once. He just doesn’t see the passing procession at that one point — he sees the before and after.
God sees everything in one great moment. He sees the WHOLE thing in a moment. He sees Martha Nelson’s life all in one moment. At that’s true for each one of us. God has seen our whole life. The reason he made us in his dear Son was so that he could take care of that, so that in his Son we could continue to live whatever way we took. [Drawing on white board] And so, the Father’s line for Martha Nelson was there. But, she started there and then she wandered away here. He put her in his dear Son so that in his Son he could overcome the world and bring her back here. And then, when she wandered out here at ten or eleven, he put her in his dear Son so that his Son could bear it. What this deviation is, is sin. Sin isn’t a “terrible” thing. Sin is independence of God. It’s just living as if you are your own boss. It’s living as if you’ve made yourself. That’s what happens when we deviate. God knows that and he bears that sin in his Son. He works each of us according to the council of his will. He gets you back here. It doesn’t matter which way we go. God lovingly, without exerting power over our wills — that’s the amazing thing — that’s how kind he is — by using all kinds of things: by using circumstances, people, little thoughts he puts in our minds – but the amazing thing is, he always works with us. It’s what Jesus said, “I work and he works also.”
God really does have no hands but our hands. Everything that he brings about in this world, he brings about through us – sometimes while we know it – sometimes when we don’t know it. He’s always working everything according to the council of his will. He knows the future. He knows every event. He knows what Trish is going to do this week. He knows the people you’re going to meet. He knows the decisions you are going to make. He knows when you tend wrongly in your thoughts or rightly in your thoughts. He’s working inside his Son to lovingly bring you back and work according to the council of his will to work out your life. That’s why the Bible says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is working in you both to WILL and TO DO his good pleasure.”
[Karl] Barth has a nice kind of phrase. He says, “God accompanies man.” He goes out with us. He accompanies us. He says, “Why I use that word is that God doesn’t force us. He goes with us.” He does what we do. He stays with us in it and lovingly and graciously brings us back.
That’s our life. That’s what walking with him is — walking in that reality. God knows the future. In his Son he has overcome the world. Of course, the significance of that is, there is really only one human being. Remember, that’s that amazing verse, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all his holy angels with him, then we will gather all the nations and he separates them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” [Matthew 25:32] When the “Son of Man” comes in his glory… That talks about Jesus coming in his glory from the heavens, after the world is over. He calls him the “Son of Man”.
That’s why the verse is so important. It’s Colossians 1:15, “He is the [very express] image of the invisible God. He is the first-born of all creation.” In him all things co-exist. All things hold together. We were all made in the one human being, Jesus. That’s what constitutes us as human beings. It’s in Jesus that he has overcome the world.
He has dealt with everything. I know it sounds wild. The movie that we saw last night, you remember, with the poor girl being abandoned by her husband, and then ending up in a life that was very unsatisfactory. God knows that that would take place. He already works to bring her life into a place where she is able to fulfil what he has in mind for her.
Now, the world has no idea of that at all. When it comes against a difficulty, it just does its best, and usually it can do nothing about it. So, it ends up in dissatisfaction and discontent and worry and anxiety. In fact, the real situation is this: our Father is continuing to love each one of us and take care of us, and is continuing, moment by moment, day by day, to bring us back into the council of his will.
Now, if you will say to me, “Will it solve everything? Will it make everything right?” Oh, not according to our idea of right because our idea of right is no cancer, no sickness, no pain, no anything. The Father knows what will bring us into the likeness of his Son, what will conform us to the beauty of Jesus. It’s not necessarily freedom from cancer. It’s not necessarily freedom from disease. It’s not necessarily freedom from troubles. God, himself knows. When you see truth like this, then you are able to rest content.
Even though I don’t understand it exactly, I know that my Father does. I know that he is after something here. I know that he is after the fullness of the stature of Jesus in me here that I haven’t got. That’s why he put this in the way [pointing to diagram]. It changes everything. It just changes everything when you realize that God is really in charge of your future – but NOT as a dominating dictator who uses robots to do what he wants them to do, but as a loving Father who accompanies his child. [Acting: God asks,] “How about that way?” “No!” “How about that way?” He’s gentle, kindly and always working with his own his own power to bring about differences in our circumstances that we ourselves cannot bet upon.
He has really called us to enjoy this life. He has really called us to a life of joy that lives amidst of that reality and rejoices continually. If you say to me, “[A life that] lies back and eats cookies, drinks cocoa-cola, and eats ice cream all day?” No, no. Barth is right, slothfulness is not what God is after – but a life of action that stems from joy. That’s it. A life of action that stems from joy – from the joy that knowing my Father has seen my whole life. He knows exactly what he has put me here to do. He is going to bring that about. All I have to do is keep my eyes on him and live the life that he has given me to live – and live it with joy. That gets the best sales! That produces the best sales, produces the best sermons, produces the best writing, the best everything – when it’s done out of joy and not anxiety, not a strong stoic determination but a real faith that my Father “knowest when I sit down and when I rise up”. And he has beset me behind and before, and he has placed me inside his own Son, and that’s what holds me together, and inside him, I have overcome the world because HE has overcome the world.
It’s an utterly different world. It’s what the dear society has no notion of. The gospel that they hear is either the gospel of Positive Thinking: It’s an expression. It’s an intensified sin. It’s, “Do it yourself. You are a self-existent person. If you think right, you can overcome the thing.” It has that on the one side and just down-right hopelessness on the other where “there is
no hope in the world. There is nothing we can do. The whole thing is going to hell anyway.”
So there is a challenge. You can see the real difference when somebody walks into their store differently. So I pray that God will give you revelation to see it all because it is the truth. It obviously changes everything.