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The Perfect Man in Christ

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The Perfect Man in Christ

The Perfect Man in Christ

Ephesians 4:13d

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

I’d like to read John 15. It’s just difficult to get any chapter that says things the same way as John 15 does. It’s so detailed and so direct, and so plain and simple. John 15:1: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Amen.

I wrote the Greek on the board because I massacre it when I do it quickly while I’m talking to you, and it’s not fair to God’s word. And I would mention again, to those of you who preach, that there is real value if you can do it without boring us all to tears, or putting us to sleep. There is real value in treasuring every word in God’s book. So there is real value in this detailed attention to the words — because undoubtedly they’re inspired by the Holy Spirit, and they contain a lot more than we ever catch in our cursory reading of them.

So that’s one reason why I like to look at the Greek, and I think everybody can look at the Greek. Even if you don’t know Greek, you can find commentaries that detail it in this kind of way. The little “Pocket Sword” program that we have on our PDAs does a lot of this just very naturally. Looking up Strong’s Words, you can find these meanings.

This is Ephesians 4:13, the verse that we’ve been doing. And “mechri” is the Greek word for “until.” The verse talks about the purpose of the church. What we’re talking about is, to prepare us — the saints — and to bring us into the fullness of Christ. And this Ephesians 4:13 reads, “Until we,” –that uses the Greek word “mechri.” I’d just point out that there is a sense of time in that.

So there is time involved in coming into this. This is not something that we can just jump into quickly. There’s time, “until.” “Katantao” and “anti.” I won’t transliterate it into English letters to distract you but “anti” has the idea of anti — coming up against something. Actually, this has “until we come to”, but it has the sense of coming up against something to. That’s the meaning partly of “anti”. Until we come up against something and into something. So we’re coming into something that isn’t exactly what we are. We need to just face it — that’s what Christ is. He’s something that we aren’t exactly ourselves. So there will be a little bit of “coming against.”

Now it’s, “Until we all,” — “hoi pantes.” That means all of us. I’ve already expressed that to you, “until all of us here come into this thing.” And that’s why we’re here together, and why I

encourage you to just be infinitely patient with each other, and above all, never to cut each other out of the fullness of Christ. Never to say, “She won’t change. He won’t change.”

No — that’s death and hell. Our task here is to pull the troops in somehow. So they’re out in that ocean — so I get them over {to safety}. I’ll get them over the side into this boat whatever I have to do. It’ll take that kind of love: “Oh love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee.” It takes that kind of love of each other, and perseverance.

So that’s why I encourage us to go back and forward and converse. Converse, back and forward, not in a brow-beating way, not in a hard way, but just in a quiet persistent way. That’s why I urge you to honesty — gentle honesty — but always honesty with each other, and always going upwards. And “eis.” It’s the Greek preposition for “into.” You can see it several times there. “Until we come into.” So this is a matter of coming into something.

Until we all come into, then this “henotata” is oneness or unity, but actually has the idea too of the sense of unanimity. “Until we all come into the unanimity,” and the unanimity of the faith. Unanimity has that sense of gradually and naturally coming together in something. It’s not just, “Bring this person into the faith.” “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved.” It’s coming into something together. It’s coming into a unanimity.

Unanimity does not come just like that. It usually comes after years of living together and working together, and yet it’s detailed. Unanimity on the Jewish problem. Unanimity on a thousand little things in this world. Coming into an understanding of things. Not everybody thinking the same way, but everybody really honestly knowing where they differ from each other and why they differ. It just takes time to do that.

I don’t think there is a place among us where we can say, “Well, okay, okay. I agree to differ.” Sometimes you do agree to differ. But that ought to be a gentle and friendly awareness. It ought not to be that standoffish, “Alright, I’ll agree to differ on that. I haven’t a clue why you think as you do.” We ought to know how each other thinks. We ought to say, “Yes, I see, Greg, how you think that way, and I don’t agree with you. But I see that.” So, that’s what unanimity is. It’s a soft and gentle oneness. It’s not just an intellectual hard agreement to put the thing aside.

So, “until we all come into the unanimity of the faith, and of the knowledge” — “epignoseos.” You remember, we talked about that as being a practical knowledge. Until we come into a unanimity of not only the faith, but of practical knowledge of the Son of God. So God is working through the gifts that he gives to the church, to bring us all into a oneness of the faith, and a oneness of the knowledge of the Son of God — of the practical knowledge of the Son of God. And the practical knowledge, you remember, is coming to the end of yourself on something. It’s having trouble and it’s having problems. It’s exactly opposite of what we all think.

We all think, “Boy, I wish I hadn’t all these problems. I wish I hadn’t these difficulties that I can’t overcome.” Those are life. Those are God’s dear way of making you cry out for his blessed Son, so that you come into a practical knowledge of Jesus’ strength, love, patience, and power. And the only way you do that is by needing it, reaching out to him, and grasping at him. It’s a blessed thing when you come up against something in your life that you can’t sort out yourself, because it causes you to grab out for Christ.

Now Watchman Nee is right with his little story. He was sitting on the beach with one of his

friends. Some of the others were out in the waves, swimming and somebody got into real trouble and started to wave and to disappear {under the water}. This guy was a great swimmer sitting beside Nee. He never moved, and Nee felt he ought to go and get him. And the fellow went down for the second time, and then the swimmer leapt in. Nee said, “Why didn’t you go in the beginning?” He said, “He’d have pulled us both down. I could only save him when he was so desperate and so worn out that he couldn’t do anything.”

God is often waiting for us to come to that place. But we are incredibly strong, incredibly self-assertive, very, very egotistical, and very much filled with our own confidence, our own righteousness, our own goodness, and our own ability to do things. So we would create a monstrosity that could not dwell in heaven — instead of the Christ-like person that God wants to create in us.

So he wants us to come into difficulties in this present world that can only be solved by his original plan. His original plan was that he would come to earth, and the name on his body would be Joe. That was his plan. His plan was to come to earth, and the name on his body would be Trish Novae. That was God’s original plan and that’s what he’s trying to bring about.

“But, I’m Ernest O’Neill. I’m not Jesus Christ, I’m Ernest O’Neill.” That’s what we’re all shouting out: “I’m me. I’m me. I want to be me,” – and God is allowing all kinds of things to come into our lives to bring us into a practical knowledge of the Son of God.

I try to say it quickly because the others were here a Sunday ago, but it’s into “Andre,” — which is singular. It doesn’t mean plural “men” — it’s singular “man.” It’s “into the man” “teleion” — which means “perfect.” The perfect man — the complete man. That we might come into a oneness of the faith, and of the practical knowledge of the Son of God — into the perfect man.

There is only one perfect man, and what God is after is bringing us into Christ, into the perfect man, bringing us into him completely. Welding us into the one in whom we were created. Soldering us to him, grafting him into us — just as the vine and the branches. And we are little squiggling, squirrely creatures that don’t want to be grafted in. We want to be ourselves. We want to stand out and get our own glory, and have our own way, and our own satisfaction. And Christ himself has a whole life to live in us and through us.

And there’s more of it that’s painful than we want, and there is more of it that is suffering than we want. So we keep on trying to squirm out of him — and God is lovingly doing everything to bring us into the perfect man, into him. And here then he elaborates it, into not only him the perfect man, the complete man, but into the measure, which is “metron.” You get “metric” from it. This is “of the stature” — “helikias.” “Into the measure of the stature.” That can also mean maturity, into the measure of maturity or stature. Of the “pleromatos”. “Pleromatos” is “pleroma” that we use in English — into the fullness of Christ. Into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Nothing less than that.

And we are utterly inadequate in our idea of in what sense we’re to be in Christ. We’re always thinking, “Well, we’ll never be like Christ,” – but that’s what our Father wants us to be. He’s saying, “I’ve made you in my Son. I’ve made you with all that he has, and now I want you to come into what you are in already. I want you to express fully and experience completely what I have made you in my Son.”

I think we get into real trouble because we think, “What a nice thought.” We think, “Oh, well, that’s interesting. That’s a nice little twist you put to the Greek there. That’s interesting. Well, I must try to think of it like that.” And there we are playing little thoughts in our brains.

This is it. This is actually it. We are in Jesus, and God is pleading with us that we just be what we are. You keep saying, “Oh well, I have to strive to be what I am.” No, no, no — you have to have faith that you are in him. You have to behave what you are. But our mums and our dads, our great grandparents, and our great-great- grandparents have become so naturally a part of us that we keep on behaving as if we’re in them — instead of where we really are in Jesus.

That’s why self-esteem should never be a problem. Self-esteem is a problem if you think you are the son of your mum, the daughter of your mum, or the son of your father, or your grandfather. But it’s never a problem if you realize what you really are: you’re part of Christ himself.

You’re part of him, and that’s what God has for us — that we’d walk free. That we’d really have a holiday from the old self that we used to be, that we’d rise into him moment-by-moment, and that we’d go into a store with a real sense, “Lord, I’m in you and you’re here. This is your person that you’re to talk to. You’ll give me words.” But that whole attitude relaxation, that’s what God has for us. He’s anxious for us to come – all of us — into the oneness of the faith and of a practical knowledge of the Son of God, into the perfect man, the complete man, Jesus himself — into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

But you see that isn’t just an idea. Christ is not a set of ethical behaviors that we call Christian. It’s — Christ is a person. He’s the person in whom you live at this moment. You were once inside your mum. You were once inside somebody’s body. It’s more real than that. You’re inside Jesus. Let us pray.