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Friendship With Our Maker

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The Miracle of Jesus Alive in Us

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The Miracle of Jesus Alive in Us

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

What we’ve been saying about God’s foreknowledge is that God foresaw all that would take place. And I think we can all see it is very reasonable because we ourselves can foresee some things and many of our engineering feats are based on either the built in obsolesces of certain equipment or certainly the recorded age of switches, and breaks, and tires. And so in all kinds of ways, in our ordinary everyday life, we do foresee things and we could not do without some degree of foreknowledge.

Where we have real trouble is when we begin to try to extrapolate, that is induct, induce from our foreknowledge up to God’s foreknowledge. And then of course we have to realize that he is infinite and that he has created everything that we see including ourselves. And of course his foreknowledge is perfect. And you understand the difficulty that probably all of us have about this, “Well, how can he have foreknowledge without predestining us to things irrespective of what we do with our own free wills?”

And that is a mystery of his heart, and his mind that we are unable to plumb at all. If you say, “But then can we be sure that he has not predestined us all to do things that we have to do whether we want to or not?” Well, yes because of the Savior and because of the kinds of words that he spoke when he looked at Jerusalem and said, “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem how often would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chickens but you would not.” And it seems to me there is infinite mind and power standing over against the creatures that he has made and saying, “I wanted you to do this but you would not. And I have given you the power to do what you want to do.”

So it seems to me that when you try to sort out in your own mind from your own experience of foreknowledge how God could possibly have perfect foreknowledge and yet refrain from making us do what he wanted to do, we have to look not at the abstract philosophical problem so much as to look at Jesus himself and then to look at our dear Father and see that often he has wept over Jerusalem and often he has wept over the things that have happened and yet has allowed them to happen.

So his is obviously a love that is beyond ours. We are encouragably dominating and dictatorial. And we think of mums and dads who find it hard to take their hands off their children but we ourselves find that it is almost impossible to take our hands off things and let them have their way. And yet as you enter more and more into Jesus I think that’s what you’re able to do.

But that whole truth that God has foreseen everything and has actually played the whole thing through in his own great mind so that he does not face emergencies and he is not facing an unknown strange way, that whole truth changes the meaning of Christmas. Do you see that? It changes the meaning of Christmas. What do we normally think of Christmas as meaning? Well, at least one of two things, God the Creator became a man. There was a creature that existed in the first century that was both God and a man. That’s what most of us think of Christmas as being.

And we say, that is unique, that’s what sets God and Jesus apart from Buddha, and Mohammad, and Hinduism and all the other religious leaders because none of them claim to be God. But Jesus, our Savior is God and at Christmas he came to earth. Except that that is not the deep meaning of Christmas, or the central heart of Christmas. Some of us have said, “Well, God was in Jesus.” And as he was in Jesus at Christmas or on the day that we remember as Christmas so he is able to be in

each of us. That’s the meaning of Christmas.

And that in itself would set the whole thing apart from other religions because though every religion believes that you can get some help from an outer power, no religion believes that the Creator himself could dwell in you and so that is remarkable. But I think you’ll see if you reflect that that is not the miracle of Christmas. The miracle of Christmas is that Jesus who was the first-born of all creation, who was born as not only God and God’s son but who was born as a man in eternity, before the world was ever created, because that’s what that verse you remember, means in Colossians 1:15, “Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and he is the first-born of all creation.” That means he was first-born, he was born before Abraham. Indeed, he says that you remember, “Before Abraham was, I was.” He was born before Adam.

But not only did he come into existence before them because we all have known of Jesus’ preexistence but he was actually born as part of creation. He was conceived by his Father as the only begotten son of God. But in the same millisecond God conceived of him becoming what this strange humanity is. And so he was the first-born of all creation and in him we were all created. That’s what Ephesians, you remember, 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” So at that same moment we were created in Christ Jesus. And at Christmas we came to earth. At Christmas we came to earth.

In other words, Christmas is the physical expression in time and space of the miracle that God wrought when his only begotten son also was the first born of all creation and in him all of us were created. Christmas is the physical expression of that just as Christ was crucified from before the foundation of the world. You remember, Revelation 13:8, “Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world.” But it was expressed in time and space only what 29 A.D., the year of the crucifixion. So is Christmas, Christmas is the expression in time and space not just a metaphor, not just something unreal because his flesh could be touched but it is that massive change that took place from the world that was invisible into the world that is seen. Suddenly Jesus and his place as the first-born human being was expressed in time and space.

And so for us, Christmas is our birth. It’s our birth in Jesus. It’s our creation in him. It’s Jesus setting forth the fact, “I am not only one of you but you are part of me and my Father made you in me.” Christmas is really the explanation of our existence. It is God saying what we’ve said several times, “You were not created for the first time in your mother’s womb. No, you were not created first by what we joke as the twinkle in your father’s eye. No, that was just the time space expression of you and your existence here on earth, but you were created in my son Jesus and it is him that gives you life and you were made in him. Apart from him you have no life.”

Of course it’s tragic I mean it’s tragic what has happened because we have all started to pretend that we have an existence part from Jesus and that’s where we all get into trouble. I mean, we think that it’s possible to say, “In Jesus now. Not in Jesus now. Well, if I were a Christian I’d do this. Well, if I weren’t a Christian I’d do this.” Well it’s possible, there is no such choice. We are created in Christ Jesus, we are part of him, we live in that reality or we don’t live in that realty but there is not another choice. You can’t be out of him, you’re only in him. You’re either in him adding to his pain of his crucifixion or you’re in him adding to the joy of his resurrection, but we are part of him.

I’d just like to share one other thing with you. When do you think God thought of Joe? Did he think of him a second before his mother bore him in a hospital somewhere in Minnesota? Did he think

of him when God made the world? He created him in Christ Jesus. He thought of him a millisecond after he conceived of his only begotten son. I mean, it’s incredible.

We have done despite to God that we have done – we have insulted him because we all the time think, “Oh yes, God made all the planets, all the stars. He had his only begotten son and then he did all kinds of other things. And then he made the earth, and then after he made the earth and it had been going for years, and years, then he made the first man. Then after the first man then he made another man, then another, and then right on down to about maybe 40 or 50 years he made me.” And God conceived of you and me from the very beginning. We are not an afterthought of God’s. Jesus was not an afterthought of God. Jesus’ death was not an afterthought of God.

God did not suddenly get caught out and find that we were all sinning and invent a way of deliverance for us on Calvary. God conceived all of this from the very beginning. That’s why it’s so impossible and so wrong when we think, “Ah, I’m nothing. I’m nothing. I’m nothing. I am just a wee Belfast boy,” or, “I am just a wee Minnesotan girl. I’m nothing. I’m just a little bit of dust.” It’s an absolute and utter lie. You are someone that our Creator thought of a millisecond after he begot his son Jesus.

Christmas for us is the setting forth of the truth that we are part of God’s only begotten Son and therefore, we occurred in God’s mind centuries ago, ages ago. And of course you know why that all is possible, because really time itself is just an accommodation that God has arranged for us in our finite minds to be able to appreciate what he has done in one second in eternity. So of course, for God it is all one moment.

I don’t know if you’ve wondered why it is that I think more of the cells seem to die than are renewed after you get to a certain age. And so it does seem that life is going faster, and faster, and faster. I think its part of God’s beautiful plan so that when we get there and just hop over it will be just one present moment and it’ll all be there all the time. It will be like a continual, wonderful Saturday morning or whatever is the pleasantest time that you have in the week, but it will be just one moment and that for God it is one great present eternal now. And so all this is taking place. Of course, he has kindly implied that to us when he puts in the mouths of the prophets words like, “With God a thousand years are as one day.” That it’s just a day a thousand years.

And so we here are maybe about two seconds after the moment when God conceived of his son Jesus and so it is all one great eternal present and that when we come to Christmas it’s not just the birth of the little baby in the manger. It’s not just the birth of Jesus. It’s not just God, though that is wonderful coming down to earth as a human being, but it is our selves in Jesus. It is the birthday of the human race, it is our birthday, it is God saying, “In my son you came to earth and you are here as part of him.” And of course that’s what makes our life so filled with meaning, because you’re not just here to find out if you’re good at engineering, or if you’re good at music, or if you’re good at sales, or if you’re good at drawing or designing. You are here as a limb of Jesus, you are here with something that Jesus has planned to do in the earth through you that he cannot do through anybody else.

So of course our life is already laid out before us and that’s why the future too is different for us. The future is not, “I wonder what will happen? I wonder who I’ll marry, I wonder where I’ll live, I wonder what things I’ll do in Christian Corps?” It is not that at all. You are not here to sort out your own future, you are here to walk in works that God has already prepared beforehand for

you and so the future is assured and the way is clear before you and the miracle of it all is that God lovingly and graciously leads you along his path at the same time he allows you to exercise your free well. Now, that is a miracle and that is the pickle he has wrought.

It’s even more wonderful when you think of today. You will speak certain words today and so will I. As you speak them the Savior speaks them. You can see there are two alternatives here, one that you say, “Well, I’m part of Jesus and he has things to do and say here in this life through me so I better not say anything in case it’s not what he wants.” So eventually you become permanently dumb because you just sit around in passivity and you wait for Jesus to somehow use your mouth and your tongue. That’s one alternative and it’s obviously an impossibility. Or, you speak and because you are part of the Savior, I know it sounds almost dangerous, you force him to speak.

And that is actually the tragedy of it, you make him speak. What you speak Christ speaks. That is part of his suffering or part of his glory. What you speak you make him speak. You are in him, and everything you do, and say, and think he has to do, and say, and think. You might say whether he wants it or not except that in his great wisdom he has foreseen these things and has said, “I will bear that. I will bear that.” But do you see the importance of our words, and our actions? It’s not so that we’ll get saved. It’s not so that we won’t feel condemnation or feel guilt. It’s not even so that other people will be blessed. It’s not so that we’ll do the right thing and avoid the wrong thing. That’s silly petty stuff. It is so that the Savior in you and in me will be fulfilled. So that he will be fulfilled.

So that we will be – that’s the tragedy of our upside down generation. “Well, I want to be fulfilled.” It’s not that we would be fulfilled it’s that Jesus would be fulfilled. It’s that he would fulfill his eternal plans that he has looked forward to fulfilling in us for generations so that today the words we say, the things we do, the thoughts we think, our blessed Savior thinks those too and either takes delight in them or bears the sin for us. So Christmas for us is far more than this business of God coming to earth as a human being. Christmas for us is the reality that Christ is the first born of all creation and in him we all were created and his coming to earth is simply an expression of the reality of how we got here and what we are doing here.

So Christmas and Christ Mass is our birthday, our birthday as part of our Savior, our birthday as part of the one human being who will go into heaven that is Jesus. And I remember using the illustration you know, it’s like him having a big cloak and we’re all hiding underneath and he goes through. Except that it is more than that. We are in him. We are in him. It’s not a cloak in which we’re hidden. We are in him and he knows everything about us and continues to carry us in him and will do that, carry us into his father’s presence if we are willing. Let us pray.

Savior, the word is nigh thee even on thy lips and in my heart the word of faith. We see that Lord, we see that the moment we speak you are speaking. We see Lord Jesus, the moment we mention your name we mention it with your breath, with your tongue, with your understanding and your intellect, nothing that we do can be done without you or is done outside of you. You are closer than breath, closer than breathing.

Lord, we can only be silent before you and thank you and rejoice and lighten our hearts, and cast away all the heaviness of the autonomous life, and turn our backs on all the lie that we are independent little creatures with lives we have to sort out ourselves as best we can. We see Lord Jesus, that all of that is fantasy, that we are part of you, a part of you that you know and a part of you that your Father has planned from before the foundation of the world, and we have a place in

you because God has created us in you.

And we thank you Lord, for showing us that our faith simply recognizes that, it does not create that. It does not even make it possible, that has taken place whether we know it or not, whether we believe it or not. We see Lord that you have given us these precious years on earth to get used to living as part of you and saying Amen to that. And therefore, setting our seal on what our Father has done.

Lord, we thank you for it. We thank you for this day, for all the things we’ll do. But now we see Lord Jesus, that as we joke and have fun, and enjoy the food, and make comments to each other, your mouth moves as ours does, your tongue moves as ours does. What we speak you speak. What we think you think. Oh Savior, we would give you joy this day. We would give you fulfillment, or allow you to fulfill yourself in us so that this may be a glorious birthday and so that the rest of our lives may be a continual rejoicing and delight in you and a celebration of your life for your glory. Amen.