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Stop Trying So Hard! - CONSECRATION
Stop Trying so Hard!Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillA lot of us listen a great deal to the truths that God will bear our burdens and we keep thinking, “Well, that’s right he does bear our burdens and sometime we ought really to give him our burdens.” But yet, we never do really do it. And I know old John – I know John maybe better than Tom [young men who sang as Pastor mentions later], but I know that he has found that God really does bear the burden and really does carry it. And there comes a time when you have to stop saying, “Well, maybe he will and he’s done it for Abraham, and he’s done it for Moses, and he’s done it for all the other fellows, but will he do it for me?” Maybe there’s a time you ought to stop saying that and actually release it to him. And I think a lot of us are just playing along far, far too long.We play it along with our futures. We feel, “Yeah, well maybe he can take care of my future,” and yet we keep worrying about our future and we keep thinking that we have to make our own way through life somehow or another. Or, we think, “Yes he can take care of my reputation. I can trust him with it,” but we never actually get that burden off our hearts. And I think a lot of us come Sunday after Sunday and we listen to the things about God, and we believe that they’re all true in our heads. But loved ones, there comes a time when you actually have to take the burden off your shoulders and put it on God, and stop thinking about it, and stop worrying about it.I think a lot of us are foolish about this. You wouldn’t act with a lawyer this way. If you had a case and you presented it to him, you’d leave it with him. You wouldn’t come back the next week and say, “No, I think I’ll take care of it myself for a while,” and then have a go for a week and then come back to him the next week and say, “Okay, you have a go I can’t manage it.” You know the fellow would tell you, “Look, you take care of it if you want, but you must leave it completely to me, or you must take it completely.”Now brothers and sisters, do you see it has to be that way. And you know the sense of liberty that some of you dear ones felt as the brothers sang. Some of it can just be emotional unless you’re actually releasing your burden to God, and then there is a real sense of liberty and freedom. And so that kind of a song just gives us the release that we know we have already. But do you see you actually have to give the burden to Jesus? And if you don’t do it, you can say you believe intellectually, but you’re not trusting in your heart, you see.And it was so with old Abraham, I mean, he could believe, “Oh yeah Lord, I believe I’ll have children as the sand upon the sea shore. I believe it. I believe it.” And his wife was 91 years of age and had no children and then he had to really decide, “Do I really believe or do I really not?” And you know, he tried it the way we do. For a while he hesitated on the whole business, and he went in to Hagar, you remember, his wife’s maid, and he had a child by her. And then he got back onto it and he saw, “No, God will keep his promise with me.” And you remember, God tested him on it and said, “Okay, I’ll give you Isaac,” and at 91 years of age old Sarah had a son.And you remember what God said, “Okay, take Isaac your only son and sacrifice him on the altar.” Now that was a moment when really Abraham had to determine whether he trusted God or not and it had to be action, you see.Loved ones, it’s no use this business of praying for the exams and then worrying about the exams. It’s just no use. If you really trust God, then you put old Isaac on the altar and you leave himthere. And you trust that if you have to kill Isaac, God will raise him up for you.And it’s the same with our money; we really are not getting the benefits of the Father’s success in managing money. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, but we’re really not benefitting from all his possessions, because we sort of surrender our money to him and then when it begins to get tight and the rent begins to be due the old worry sets in again.Now loved ones, do you see you cannot experience the freedom from your burdens unless you actually do let go of them. It’s no use you saying, “Oh, God has to lift them off me.” Loved ones, God will not force you into something. If you’re bearing the burden about marriage on your shoulders and you’re determined, “I’m going to marry whether he wants me to marry or not,” or, I’m going to marry this girl whether he wants me to marry her or not,” then God can do nothing for you.But it’s essential loved ones, that you begin to take God at his word, you see. And that’s what we mean by trusting him, by actually trusting him and putting Isaac on the altar, by actually trusting him for the money.Really, oh we had a wild experience when we were first moving into some reality of the Holy Spirit. My wife and I pastored at Calvary Methodist Church which was in North Minneapolis and we were naïve little souls at that time, we didn’t really know what we were doing.I remember that we had this wild ex-Marine came and preached in the church, and he said “Okay, now we’re going to have an offering and I don’t want you to put in what you decided to put in before you came here, I want you to ask God about it.” And you know, I had never heard of that deal before and I sort of felt in my pocket and my wife had the checkbook. So I began to pray very hard and it was the first time we had ever had the release – yeah, it cost us $50 that night — but it was the first time we had ever really entered into freedom as far as money was concerned.And it was at that time, and my wife won’t mind saying, because she and I had both pursued this intellectual approach to Christianity for years in the universities in Ireland and in England, and it was the first time really that she had gone out in trust that way. And it was that same time that God did a work in her heart.Now, do you see that for years we had known all this, and we believed that God would take care, and we believed that God would look after money, but we never actually took a step and actually put it into his hands and trusted him with it?And brothers and sisters, that’s it: there is no release from burdens unless you actually take the step and put them into the Father’s hands. And I’m with you; I think it takes some real mental discipline. I know as it comes up towards the examination time, I know that Satan is worrying you and worrying you and saying, “Look, what about the consequences? What about the grades? What will happen if you are thrown out of school?” But loved ones, its there that you exercise faith you see.Faith is not just a feeling; it’s a belief that God will take your burdens if you put them on his shoulders. And that’s what justifies you in His sight. It’s not making a success of your lives. It isn’t loved ones. It isn’t even living morally that pleases God. It is the fact that you trust him with the things that are concerning you and binding you uptight. You know if I asked you this morning, “Well are you uptight this morning?” Well, some of you are. You’re uptight about allkinds of silly things that Satan has persuaded you are vital to your welfare. And loved ones, do you know that 15 years hence you’ll have forgotten those things but you’ll be uptight about half a dozen other things?Now, do you see that we don’t need it? Brothers and sisters, we don’t need it. There’s someone who put this world here. There’s someone who gets that sun up out of the horizon every day. There’s somebody who keeps the galaxies going in the right order. There’s someone who keeps the thing from crashing. We call it law of gravity but you know we’re bluffing our way. We give it a name, we’ve explained nothing. We can’t explain why it occurs. We can’t explain why the atoms hold together. We can explain partly how they hold together, we can’t explain why. Do you see that there is some being behind the whole thing that made you and put you here and he didn’t put you here to make your own miserable way on your own? He just didn’t. Its just silliness you see. It’s just silly.It’s like that old fellow, he was driving the old horse and cart along the road and he had his little dog beside him. And the old donkey, you remember, was just striving up the hill and could hardly make it. And then the old fellow lifted the dog onto his lap and held him there. And someone watching him said, “What did you do that for?” And he said, “Oh, I didn’t want the poor old donkey to have to carry us both.” Well, do you see that some of us are like that? Some of us are saying, “Well, we don’t want God to have to carry this too; he has enough.”Loved ones, he is carrying you. It’s the Father that sustains your life. It’s the Father that keeps the oxygen flowing through your body. It’s God who controls your life and who keeps the earth on which you’re resting spinning. Now he’s carrying the whole burden anyway and you’re only pretending that you’re carrying it. God is able to carry it.To Here 2016-03-06And that’s the kind of thing, you remember, that we talked about last day. And maybe it would be good to look just at the promises here, because sometimes they spell out our faith more than all kinds of examples. Do you see it there in Romans 4:3, “For what does the scripture say?” And then Paul quotes it, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” And Abraham’s trust in God was looked upon by God as if it were righteousness.Now, you remember, where that occurred. 2000 years BC it was, and you might want to look at that. It’s in Genesis 15:5, “And he,” God, “brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.” And so even though you see in Verse 3, “Abram said, ‘Behold, thou hast given me no offspring; and a slave born in my house will be my heir.’” Even though that was the situation physically speaking, yet God said that he would have children, and he would have descendants beyond the number of the stars. And Abraham trusted God for that, and God looked upon that as righteousness.The amazing thing about that was really, that Abraham wasn’t a righteous person at all, you see. He was in fact, just a cowardly liar. If you look at Genesis 12, he really was, really. Genesis 12:10, he was prepared to lie up and down in order to get out of difficulties. You see, I think we end up doing that. Loved ones, you’re not made to live life on your own. You’re not made to bear all the burdens on your own and the only way actually we can manage to bear them is by lying, isn’t it? I mean, we’re deceiving. We don’t get an assignment in, so we make what we call an excuse. It’s not an excuse it’s a lie. We fail an appointment and we make an excuse. It’s not an excuseit’s a lie.Without God bearing our burdens and carrying us we’re always driven into this kind of compromised situation that Abraham was. Genesis 12:10, “Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, ‘I know that you are a woman beautiful to behold; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account.’” Now that was Abraham’s attitude to life, and he really was not a righteous person himself. And yet, do you see that because the underlying basic attitude of his life to God was one of trust, God counted his trust in place of righteousness. Now really that’s what the Father wants with you and me.A lot of us are feeling, “Well, I have to straighten up my life first.” Loved ones, God is saying, “Look, if you start trusting me, if you’d start trusting me to give you all you need in your life then you could begin to find that my Holy Spirit would straighten up your life.” But a lot of us are saying, “No, we must be moral. We must be moral. We must obey everything before God will deal with us.” Loved ones, God takes you as you are and then he works on your morality. But you must take the first step of trusting him.Now what have you to trust him to do? Well, trust him to give you his own life. You have mental life this morning. You have emotional life. You have physical life. But God has an uncreated spiritual life that he can give to you miraculously this morning, and it’s the life that makes everything come together. It’s the life that makes all the other lives work right. If you say to me, “What is it?” It seems it’s a kind of invisible electric dynamic that God gives to you. He called it different things in the Old Testament. At one time it turned out as water. When the Israelites were dying of water, this life of God became water to them. At another time they were dying of starvation in the wilderness and this life became manna that was found on the ground every morning, and they ate it like bread. At another time this life became healing to some of them. But this life Jesus talked about is the Holy Spirit. He said, “My Father will give you his own spiritual uncreated life and that will enable you to do whatever you need in this life. It will meet all your needs.”Now that’s what you’ve to trust God to do, to give you that life. We don’t deserve it you see. We don’t deserve it at all, because God, you remember, wants to put a flaming sword at the gate of the Garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life and he said, “Look, you people have given up any right to receive this spiritual uncreated life from me. From now on I condemn you to absolute destruction.” And you remember that that is our real position. And the only reason God can give us this life again without condoning cowardly liars is because Jesus has paid our debt to God’s unbending law of justice. And because of that God is able to come out to us again this morning and say, “Look, I’ll give you this life if you’ll trust me to give it to you.”And of course, most of us don’t work that way at all. Most of us work the way – well, it’s the first verse that we could look at just this morning Romans 4:4, “Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due.” I think a lot of us are in that position. A lot of us know that our lives are not satisfying. We know we don’t feel much significance in life. We’re really troubled about what the meaning of our lives is and we’re troubled that nobody seems to think much of us, and we’re troubled that we don’t feel any approval of the great Creator of the universe upon our lives. And we begin to work at it. We work at it! And a lot of us spend our time working atit. We’re always trying to work at it, and striving and straining to try to prove that we’re good, or that we’re moral, or that we’re spirit filled Christians, or that we’re good people, or that we’re worth looking at. And really, many of us are in that position where ‘we’re working’.Now, do you see that when you’re working like that to try to prove to God, and morality, and all your peers that you’re right, you’re bound to fail? You’re bound to futility, because you’re trying to prove that you’re right by works of the law. And it just isn’t possible to prove yourself right that way. I’ll tell you why, if you’d like to look at it. It’s in James and I think a lot of us are involved in this. We’re trying to prove that we’re socially responsible, or we’re trying to prove that we really care about people, or we’re trying to justify to ourselves that we’re really going to contribute something to the world, or we’re trying to prove that, “Well we obey some of the laws.” And we’re in this position in James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”In other words, even if you spent 50 million hours, obeying all kinds of good things that you thought you ought to do, and living up to all kinds of high standards; even if you failed in one point, it’s like disobeying the whole law. And that’s the difficulty about trying to justify yourself by doing works of law, you see. I mean, dear ones, they are not only the works of law detailed in the Bible, some of us live under the works of law that our parents have given to us. Some of us have ideas that our parents gave to us, and we’re trying to live up to those ideas all the time and prove ourselves, and justify ourselves, because we do that. Some of us have standards for ourselves that are not fair standards at all. Sometimes they are not high enough, sometimes they’re too low. But we’re trying to prove ourselves by living up to those standards. The psychologists love to call them goals. We always have goals in life, and we all try to keep striving to those goals. And the Bible says that you’ve only to fail in one point and you’ve failed in the whole lot.You see in Verse 11, “For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ said also, ‘Do not kill.’ If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become a transgressor of the law.” In other words, if you try to prove yourself by obeying works of the law you have to obey the whole lot. You have to do everything! And it’s so with those standards that your parents have given to you. You have to keep living up to all of them all the time otherwise you’ll never feel justified. And do you see loved ones, it’s impossible ever to justify yourself in God’s eyes by that means? Particularly in his eyes, because he didn’t give the law so that we would try to live up to it.Why did he give it? It’s in Romans there if you look at it. And why can we never justify ourselves in God’s eyes by living up to all the law? Romans 3:20, “For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” It is because the law is a diagnostic instrument. God said, “Look, if you had my Holy Spirit in your life you would have no other gods before me. You would not commit adultery. You would not bear false witness. Now, this is a diagnostic instrument. If you do these things it proves that you haven’t the life of my Holy Spirit.”Now do you see that when we take that diagnostic instrument and try to use it to prove that we can be like him without his Holy Spirit, do you see that we’re compounding our rebellion against God? The law is not given by God so we can try to live up to it by our own strength. The law is given by God to expose to us that we have not trusted him for his Holy Spirit and therefore we are not living up to the standards that the Holy Spirit brings to our normal life.So loved ones, when we say, “Oh yeah, we live by the golden rule. I live by the golden rule.” Do you see that first of all we can’t live by the golden rule? None of us who say that are actually living by it. And secondly, it wouldn’t matter if you lived up to the golden rule if you’re living it independent of the Spirit of God’s life then you’re rebelling against him anyway. All it is, is you’re a moral sinner. And really, there are lots of dignified moral sinners among us who are really most moral people, but they do it all without God. And they have no sense of dependence upon him.Now it’s that that is God’s controversy with us and that’s why you see it says in Romans 4:4 there, “To one who works, his wages are reckoned as his due.” And then it goes onto the situation that Abraham was in in Verse 5, “And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.” So really what God is trying to say to you this morning is, “Would you stop striving? Would you stop straining? Would you stop trying? Would you stop trying to be the kind of person that you think you should be? And would you start looking upon me as your dear Father who is willing to give you my own life, my own ‘Holy Spirit life’, if you will only trust me to give it to you?” And he’s saying, “Would you stop working so hard? And I tell you, if you would trust me to give you this life I will look upon your trust as if it were righteousness. And even though it’s just trust, because I know through that trust you’re going to receive my Holy Spirit who is going to make you like me, I will immediately lift the guilt off your conscience and I will accept you as my own children — even though you’re not perfect yet. Even though you aren’t like me in every degree, yet because you’re trusting me I will count that trust or that faith in place of righteousness; and I will look upon you as if you were as righteous as my own Son Jesus.”Now that’s what God is willing to do this morning, brothers and sisters. God is willing to impute the righteousness of Jesus to you, if you will trust him. And the old Greek participle is the present participle. It means, if you’re trusting him now, God counts that present trust as righteousness. Now, that’s all you have to do, really. You don’t have to start cleaning up your life now, this morning. You need to say, “Father, I have been living independent of you. I’ve been working at this. I’ve been trying to prove myself to everybody. But Father, I do believe that you are my father and I do believe that I can trust you with my burdens, and I can trust you to give me your Holy Spirit. And Father, I will receive that Spirit of Jesus now into me and I trust you then to look upon me as righteous. And I trust you by your Holy Spirit to make me righteous as the days pass.”But that’s the way it works brothers and sisters. It’s glorious. I mean, it works backwards because we were in an impossible position before you see, you couldn’t be good without the Holy Spirit and you couldn’t receive the Holy Spirit unless you were good. It was an impossible dilemma. And now God says, “If you trust me to give you the Holy Spirit because of Jesus dying in your place, then I will give you the Holy Spirit as you are now, today. And then when you have him all you have to do is begin to submit to him and obey him and he’ll make you like me.”But brothers and sisters that’s why it can change right this morning, and why it’s important that you actually take the burden off and you lay it on God, you see. And if you’re worrying, if you’re worrying this morning about the money, or if you’re worrying this morning about that relationship with that professor, or if you’re worrying this morning about that kind of grind that you have there with your roommate, do you see that God is saying to you, “Look, will you trust me with that? Will you trust me to give you my Holy Spirit of life who will sort that out? And if you do, I will regard your trust as righteousness and you’ll be my child.” And that’s why it can take place so suddenly, you see.But it does demand — and brothers I say it to you because we seem expert at this — it does demand that we stop trying to do it ourselves. It does demand that we stop trying to prove ourselves to the whole wide world, and stop trying to achieve all these great things that we think we ought to achieve, and instead say, “Father, I’m willing to take my place in your world, the place you want me to have. And I trust you now to give me the Holy Spirit.” And do you see that faith in the New Testament sense is not just belief, it is John 1:12, “To as many as receive him to them gives he the right to become the children of God.”You actually have to receive the Spirit of Jesus this morning into yourself. In other words, it’s not enough to say, “God, I’ll believe I have the Holy Spirit when I feel I have the Holy Spirit.” God is saying, “No, you have to believe by faith. I said I’ll give him to you. Now, he isn’t in you until you believe he is in you.” Do you see that?The Spirit of Jesus cannot come into you until you believe that he is coming into you. It’s no use standing back saying, “I’ll believe he has come into me when I feel him inside me.” He will never be in you unless you exercise faith, because Jesus comes into you through faith. And what is faith? Faith is believing that God will keep his promise and adjusting your life to make room for that promise. That’s what it is.So faith this morning would say, “Father, I believe that you can give me the Spirit of your Son into my spirit and you can change my life. And I am now willing to make all the adjustments and arrangements in my life that may be necessary because of that.” And that’s what governs God’s life coming into you this morning. If you only believe but aren’t prepared to make the necessary adjustments in your own life for that, then you’re like Abraham saying, “I believe that you’ll restore Isaac but I’m not going to risk it. I’m not going to kill him.” But really, we need to say, “I believe you will give me your Spirit of life and I am prepared to make what necessary adjustments are necessary.”Now brothers and sisters would you – you see it’s a very down to earth sensible transaction. It’s just good common sense. Now if you’re sitting there and you’re saying, “Well Pastor, I’d love it to be real to me, but I’ve tried it 20 times before.” Loved ones, do you see that it works if it’s belief plus obedience, if it’s belief plus adjusting the life to make room for the Holy Spirit. But if you’re sitting there saying, “Father, I really need you with the finances, but my relationship with the girlfriend — I’d like to control that myself.” Do you see the Spirit of Jesus cannot come into you to be a prisoner? Or sisters, if you’re saying, “Well I’d really like him in me for the business of my relationship with my roommate. But I’d like to just control what I wear myself; I don’t want him to bother with that.” Then do you see the Spirit of Jesus cannot come into you unless you’re willing to trust him in every area of your life and make all the adjustments that are necessary?I think dear ones, with many of us in our generation — I think a lot of our problems in this area are just in the problems of relationships between men and women. And I think many of you brothers and sisters are having real trouble ‘really’ receiving the Spirit of God into you because you won’t come down the line on that issue. And I agree with you, it’s because they persuaded us that so much is necessary. They persuaded us that we’re not healthy unless we engage in so much of this. But loved ones, believe me God knows the way it should work, and has a perfect and a beautiful way for us to live our lives together. And if you are willing really to surrender that whole thing over to God, he will give you his Holy Spirit this morning, and he’ll count your trust, or your faith inplace of righteousness.Then there’s no longer that old hassle, “Boy, I’m trying to please God. I’m trying to be good enough for him to accept me.” You’re only good enough to accept him when you accept that you’re impossibly bad, and you can never please him on your own, and just cannot deal without his life. So that’s why the Bible says that you’re not to work because if you work, then your wages come to you as a due, and they’re never enough. But if you believe him who justifies the ungodly, then your faith is counted as righteousness. And it can happen today.So would you really seriously think about it during the next few minutes? I think it’s madness to keep coming on Sunday mornings and believing that it would be true if I did something. I think sooner or later you have to act. Really, and let it be true, and let the burdens come off.Let us pray.
The Christian’s Ministry - CONSECRATION
The Christian’s MinistrySermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillWill you turn please to Romans 1:9 in your Bibles? Romans 1:9 reads, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son.” This is the third Sunday that we’ve talked about the ministry of the Christian and the third Sunday that we’ve spent on this verse and I think God has insisted on us doing this now because there is so much bewilderment today about the ministry of Christians. Even Pastors are having difficulty distinguishing between their ministry and the ministry of a social worker, or their ministry and the ministry of a psychiatrist.I think many Priests and many Sisters in the Catholic Church are having the same problem, so there has been a great falling away into what we call secular occupations because of this failure to distinguish what is significant in the ministry of a Christian. I think it has entered even the lives of those of us who are lay people because we have begun to wonder, “Well, what makes me different in my Christian ministry as a doctor?” “What makes me different in my Christian ministry as a nurse?” ‘What makes my ministry as a teacher significantly different from other non-Christian teachers?” I think throughout all Christendom there is this bewilderment about what is significant and what is special about the ministry of the Christian.Let’s look briefly at the three significant characteristics that we find about the ministry of a Christian and we’ll find some examples in the life of Philip. Perhaps you’d turn to Acts 6:2-5. I think it’s first of all important to see that Philip was a layman, he was not a full time minister as we think he was, “And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from you among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’ And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip.” They also chose five others and appointed them deacons.God saw how anxious they were to have a clerical class on one side and deacons on the other and he upset their plans because he started to use Philip mightily. So Philip was a layman. Then will you look at how he was used in Acts 8:6-7, “And the multitudes with one accord gave heed to what was said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs which he did. For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice; and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.” The center of Philip’s ministry as a Christian was the work that God was doing among the people.In other words, they didn’t listen to him just because of the things he said but because of the signs that were done among them, “For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice; and many were healed.” In other words, the central feature of the ministry of a Christian is the work that God is doing in other people’s hearts. You remember that we emphasized that a Christian is not called to do God’s work, God alone can do God’s work. God alone can heal, God alone can convert, but the ministry of the Christian is based on the work that God is doing in people’s hearts.Would you look at Acts 8:8, “So there was much joy in that city.” And no doubt many people said, “Philip, you must stay on and we’ll have a mighty revival here. We thank God for all that he has done through you, so stay on because there’s much joy in the city and there can be greater joy still.” And then in verse 26, “But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Rise and go toward thesouth to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is a desert road.” A Christian serves God not people. Philip was not so bound to the people among whom he had ministered that he stayed with them even though they probably pleaded with him to do that, but he served God.The ministry of a Christian is service to God first and foremost, not service to man. It’s service to God; their desire is to obey God and to please God, the things they incidentally do for other people are really side issues. They’re simply side shoots of the service that they are performing to God. But they’re not serving men, they’re serving God.The third characteristic that I think we should know is in Acts 8:29, “And the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and join this chariot.’” And then I think again in verse 39, you can see the same thing repeated, “And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip.” Philip ministered with the spirit. He served God with the spirit. That’s what Paul says back in Romans 1, “For God is my witness whom I serve with my spirit.”Now those are the characteristics of your ministry as a Christian. So if you’re a nurse, you are, in our terminology, a lay woman, but you’re asked to do nothing less than Philip did because he was a layman. Now first of all, your ministry as a Christian nurse depends on the work that God is doing in the hearts of the nurses and doctors and patients with whom you work. In other words, you can have no ministry as a Christian unless God is either awakening them to their unlikeness to Jesus, or convicting them of certain things that are wrong in their own lives, or regenerating them and making them new Christians, or he’s cleansing their hearts by the Holy Spirit, or he’s moving them on out in the power of the Spirit. Unless God is working in some way in the hearts of your patients, your doctors, or your nurses, then you have no ministry. So you depend on the work that God is doing in the hearts of the people with whom you come in contact day-by-day.Now be assured dear ones, the spirit of man is in an arena where something always happens. Either a person is giving more and more to God, or a person is giving more and more to the power of evil in the world. Something is happening in the hearts of your patients; they’re either going a little more towards their complacency and a little away from God, or they’re becoming more aware of God and his reality and they’re drawing towards him, but something is happening in the hearts of those with whom you are dealing. That is the central feature of your ministry as a Christian; that God is doing some work in those people’s hearts.The second feature is that you’re serving God; you’re not serving that dreadful head nurse that tears you apart. You’re not serving the hospital that has dealt nicely with you therefore you think you’ll stay with them next year. You’re serving God and you do what God tells you to do in that hospital. You stay as long as God tells you to stay. You do what God tells you to do with the patients. You say what God tells you to say, but you’re serving God and your desire is to please him by what you do, not to please the head nurse, not to please the doctor or the patient, but to please God and therefore to do the best for all these other dear ones. Thirdly you serve God with the spirit and we’re going to try to talk about that today, what it means to serve God with the spirit, but suffice it to say that you don’t serve him with your own cleverness, you serve him with the spirit that he has implanted in you.I think it’s important to see that those three things apply to those of us who try to perform a specifically Christian ministry in our ordinary job. Now you may say, “Well, why serve him with the spirit?” Because every work that God does in a person’s heart is like an operation. He brings them into the operating room and he decides what is needed: maybe it’s a mother and it’s the birth of anew Christian, so he’s bringing a new Christian into life. Or it’s a Christian that needs some part of him amputated; maybe some jealousy that needs to be cast away or maybe it’s a car of which they’re too fond. Maybe it’s a certain job that they won’t give up even though God is asking them. It’s an amputation that God has to perform in the operating room of their spirit. Or maybe it’s a heart transplant, maybe they need a new heart given to them by the Holy Spirit and God wants to do this operation at once.Now he has lots of assistants — all of us. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:9 that it is God’s work that counts, but in verse 9, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” Or you are the sphere in which God is operating, but we are fellow workers for God. In other words, gathered around every heart that God is trying to operate on are many people like you and me; we are his fellow workers.Now how do you know when he wants a swab or when he wants scissors? How do you know when he wants you to hold this at this time — only because his Spirit directs you to do the right thing at the right time for his dear ones. This is why we have to serve God according to the spirit. Now, you can stand there and while the surgeon is operating you can use your own mind and say, “Now, what about this? Do you want to do something with this? No?” You can imagine the chaos and disorder if that happened. When we try to serve God with the mind or the intellect that’s what we’re doing; we’re only suggesting to him something else that he should be doing with this dear one. Instead, we should be guided by his Spirit to do the right thing with this dear one at the right time.You may be called upon to speak a certain word to a Doctor on your floor. You may be called upon to say a certain thing to someone in your classroom. You must be in touch with God’s Spirit so he can tell you this. You say, “Why?” Well, it’s stated in I Corinthians 2:11b that this is the way God directs his fellow workers. In other words you may say, “Ah, but sometimes I don’t know what the surgeon wants; sometimes I don’t know what God wants me to do.” Well, here’s the answer, “So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”The Spirit of God knows what God wants done at that moment; look at verse 10a, “God has revealed to us through the Spirit. “ In other words, God tells you what to do in your Christian ministry through your spirit. His Spirit communicates with your spirit. That’s why it’s so vital to serve God with the spirit. I think it’s important to see that there is a distinction made in the Bible between God’s Spirit and our spirits. Would you like to look at it in Romans 8:16, I think many people feel that there’s just one spirit. Well, no there isn’t. There’s a distinction made in our English language by the capital letter S. Romans 8:16, “It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit,” our spirit has a small s and God’s Spirit has a capital S. In other words, it’s through God’s Spirit impressing our spirits that we know what to do in our Christian ministry, and it’s only that way, dear ones.Now I think many of us are a bit glib about this word spirit. We say, “You just serve God with the spirit, that means serve God with your soul.” But the Bible emphasizes this word spirit very often. In several places, as we noticed last Sunday, you’re urged to pray with the spirit. Now, why is he saying, “Pray with the spirit?” Is he is just saying pray religiously? No, every word in the Bible has a meaning. He says, “Pray with the spirit.” In another place he says, “God is a Spirit and you must worship him in spirit.” And in this place in Romans it says, “You must serve him with the spirit.”Now what does it mean to serve God with the spirit? Well, do you see the spirit is different fromthe soul? 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Bible sometimes mentions those three parts of us: the body, the soul, and the spirit. In other words, it’s vital to distinguish between the soul and the spirit in our Christian ministry.Many of us are falling back into self-centeredness in our ministry as Christians because we’re not distinguishing between the soul and the spirit. Many of us are having failure in our Christian witnessing because we have no idea of the difference between the soul and the spirit. Will you look with me at one verse in the Bible that states categorically that it is essential to distinguish between the soul and the spirit, it’s Hebrews 4:12-13, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit.”Now it wouldn’t pierce to the division of soul and spirit unless it was necessary to make a distinction between the soul and the spirit. But in the Christian life it’s not enough to be forgiven your sins. It’s not enough to have your heart and your inward jealousy and envy and irritability cleansed by the Holy Spirit, it’s not enough to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, but you must have your soul divided from your spirit so that you serve with the spirit and not with the soul.Let’s get down to deciding just what the soul is. Most of us think about it in terms of Revelation 20:4. We think of the soul as the part of us that will live after the body dies, “Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.”In other words, we normally think of our soul as the part of us that lives after the body dies, but the Bible says more about the soul than that. Let me show you what I mean; would you turn to 2 Peter 2:7-8, “And if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the wicked (for by what that righteous man saw and heard as he lived among them, he was vexed in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds).” The soul was the part of Lot that felt distressed. In other words, when the Bible uses soul it means your emotions, for one thing, your emotional nature — that’s one of the vital parts of the soul.Another reference that will take us to another part of the soul is Psalms 119:167. “My soul keeps thy testimonies; I love them exceedingly.” “My soul keeps thy testimonies.” God’s testimonies are his commandments and it really means I am keeping your commandments. The part of you that keeps God’s commandments is your will. So part of the soul as it’s talked about in the Bible is your will. Whenever the Bible talks about soul, one of the things it’s talking about is your own human will. So the soul consists of the emotions and it consists of the will.Then if you’ll look at the third reference in Deuteronomy 11:18 there is revealed to us another part of the soul, “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” “You shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul.” Now, you can’t lay up words anywhere but in your memory and your mind. That is where you remember things and where you remember the things that you have to do.In other words dear ones, the soul consists of the mind, the will, and the emotions; those three things; the Bible divides us into three parts. In 1 Thessalonians 5:3, the spirit wears the souland the soul wears the body and God commands us to serve not with the soul but with the spirit. He commands us not to worship with our emotions, or our minds, or our will, but to worship with our spirits.Now this is what distinguishes a lot of what we call emotional Christianity from real Christianity. When God begins to get you to deal with your spirit and serve with your spirit, then you enter into spiritual Christianity. Many of us are serving God all the time with our minds or our emotions or our wills, but not with our spirits. So we get into some situation and we start working out with our minds what should happen here. “The walls of Jericho — ah, dynamite is a possibility!” And we decide, “Well no, we’ll try something else” and we try to serve God with our minds. Or we get into a certain situation where we need to witness to someone and we decide we must reveal to them how joyful Christianity is so we generate a lot of emotional enthusiasm and we give them all that and a whole spiel about what life is like in Christ, but we give it with the power of our emotion and not with our spirit and it comes over to them as a hard sell; it does not come over to them as Christ.It’s vital, in other words, to realize that we need to start serving God with our spirit and not with our mind or our emotions. Many of us are eager to serve him with our minds. We’re eager to work out what he needs to do in this church so we think “You need, first of all, a good visitation campaign going and you need a bigger building. Let’s tear all this down and get a bigger building. Then you need an attractive frontage there so that people will be attracted to it” and the mind starts to serve God. But we’re called upon in our Christian ministry to serve God with our spirits, not with our minds.Could I just give you three illustrations and then we’ll finish and next Sunday I’ll try and show how God distinguishes for you between your soul and your spirit and he can. God is anxious to show you when you’re serving him with your soul and when you’re serving him with your spirit, there is a way in which he does it and I’d like to try to explain it to you as God gives me light in his word.I went to my first church and decided that what we needed was Bible study groups. I thought that people weren’t studying the Bible enough, that they needed to know more Christian doctrine. So I organized six Bible study groups and had 10 people in each and handed out question sheets such as we use as a rough guide in our Sunday morning Bible study. So I had six Bible study groups going every week and I led each one of them myself for an hour each week and nothing was happening. Everybody thought the Bible study group was good, but nobody’s life was changing. There was no spiritual work being done in anybody’s heart, because I had worked that out with my own mind.I had not done what God’s Spirit had told me to do; I had tried to work out what is best for this church. Again and again I was guilty of what I explained to you; I was so eager for people to enter into the glory of life in Jesus that I would generate my own emotional enthusiasm, instead of serving him with my spirit and it kept them from seeing Jesus. Again and again I got into situations where I wasn’t too keen to preach a certain sermon but I went forward and said, “Well, I’ll will myself to preach that sermon and I’ll do it.” I didn’t serve God with my spirit; I served him with my will, so there was no blessing that came to anyone else.Now do you see dear ones, there’s a real difference between serving God with what is the human part of you, your soul, and serving him with your spirit? Next Sunday I hope that God will show us why psychology is so limited in its effect on personality, because psychology deals with the soul, whereas God deals with the spirit. But meanwhile dear ones, in this coming week, will you ask Godto help you to see where you’re serving him with your soul; with your mind, with your emotions and with your will instead of with your spirit?Let us pray.Holy Spirit, will you implant the truths of these words in our hearts and in our spirits so that we ourselves may become effective Christian witnesses, something beyond church goers, something beyond just good people so that we’ll become co-workers for you. We ask you this in the name, and for the sake of, our Lord Jesus Christ.Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and ever more. Amen.
What Controls Your Emotions? - CONSECRATION
God’s Love and Our EmotionsLuke 23:26Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillProbably the most real moment all our lives will be the moment of death. Really, because it’s there that you forget all your pretenses, and all your big talk, and it’s there that you have to be what you are so the moment of death is very real and the moment of death really shows what a man or woman is. And I’d ask you just to look for a moment at words that I think we’ve looked at before, that a man spoke at the moment of death. It’s Luke 23:46, “Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last.”So I don’t know if you’ve seen people dying, but there are always people who die in great pain and then there are others of us who die with great freedom from physical pain. But it seems that there always comes a moment there, just before death, when your senses are able to be gathered together and you can declare what you really are. And of course at that moment, only one person loomed large in Jesus’ eyes. Really, only one person’s love mattered to him at that moment. It wasn’t the love of the Jewish people, and it wasn’t the love or hatred of his friends and disciples, it wasn’t the love or hatred of his mother, it was the love of his Father, his dear Father our Creator. And he lived and died dependent on that Father’s love just the way we are meant to live and die ourselves.We said last Sunday that there’s only one place to receive that love and that is in Jesus. There’s only one way to receive it and that is by identifying ourselves completely with Jesus’ death to all other loves. That’s the only way to actually experience the love of our Creator for us.Now loved ones, what is that love like? What is God’s love like for you and me? Well, Jim and Kris, when were you married? About October ’75 I married Jim and Kris and God has given them a wee gift and here he is and maybe he’ll compete with me, but here he is David. David, there he is, you are a famous fella. And maybe you should stand Jim and Chris so everybody just sees you. You’ll hate it. Good. You can imagine the love they have for him and you know that old Kris probably knows exactly when he’s restless during the night. She knows exactly where he plays during the day. She knows everything he does. She knows what he eats. She knows when he sleeps. Just loves him with all her heart and you know how precious he has to be to them. And I reckon they’re just, oh I think praying and trusting God, that he’ll grow up and live a beautiful life as a man of God.I want you to imagine something that might happen, say in 20 years’ time whenever he grows up. Imagine that in 20 years’ time he’s given his life to Jesus and that Jim goes in with David to a hospital someday and they find there an old drunk, an old drunk who has raped and stolen his way through life. Who has drunk and murdered his way for years. And the old drunk’s heart now is just broken and battered and is hardly pumping any blood at all. And they’ve just dragged him off of skid row really, because he’s about to die. And the only thing that will possibly save him is a heart transplant and the doctor says to Jim, “David’s heart is one of the few that will work.” And Jim gets together with David, that dear little fella there, 20 years hence, and he talks it over with him and Jim says to David, “Would you let this fella have your heart so that he’ll have enough years to have a chance of dealing with Jesus?” And little David agrees and he goes on the operating table and the old drunk goes on the other operating table, and the heart transplant is made.And then can you imagine Jim sitting at the bedside of David, now a 20 year old man and seeing himstruggling, breathing out his last with that old broken battered damaged heart that he now has from the old drunk. And the old drunk comes into the room and can you doubt that that old drunk knows that this Jim loves him with all his heart? Can you doubt that? You just couldn’t. When you can imagine the love that Jim and Kris have for David and then if they were to do a thing like that for some old bum who really had destroyed his own life, that old drunk would have no doubt that he was on the receiving end of love that was real.Now loved ones, when you think of God’s love this morning you just have to get out of your mind the idea of some impersonal philosophical transaction that has taken place somewhere in the cosmos. In fact, the situation is exactly like the one that we’ve outlined. God had far more love for Jesus than Jim or Kris have for David and that relationship was far warmer than any we can imagine. God said that. He said, “This is my beloved Son,” and you can almost feel the pride of a father in a sense, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” And that son was the apple of his eye as David is probably the apple of Jim and Kris’ eye. And yet when it came to the time when the Father saw that the only hope that we would have of ever receiving his life is if we were given the very heart of his Son Jesus.At that moment, God didn’t hesitate and in actual fact, it’s even worse than the analogy that we used about David because the old broken hearts that you and I have developed, these old hearts that are so drugged and addicted to man’s praise and man’s condemnation, these old hearts that are so addicted to sensual pleasures and physical possessions, these old hearts that have become useless for any kind of outgoing life at all, they actually have not only to be placed in Jesus’ own heart and cause in fact his death, but they themselves have to be exterminated. And really it isn’t quite like the analogy we moved with David, it’s slightly different.It’s as if God took that broken old heart of yours that is so addicted to man’s praise and so addicted to its own way, that with it you can only go to one place and that is into hell. God took that old soul, or old personality, or heart of yours and put it into his Son Jesus and he knew that the chemotherapy that he would use to destroy that would actually destroy his own Son. And so when he looked at his Son on the cross he saw him dying because of the pain that was caused by the burning Spirit of God as it put an end once and for all to that heart you have developed inside yourself. And that’s really what the death of Jesus is about.That’s why the Bible says, “God made him to be sin who knew no sin.” That’s what it means. God took your heart and transplanted it into Jesus so that he could burn it out into destruction there and purge it. And that was the pain that Jesus felt when he cried out, “My God, why has thou forsaken me?” Because even he felt the tremendous pain that was caused by that x-ray of the Holy Spirit getting to work on the heart that you have developed.But that’s God’s love for you, you know. And that’s what is meant this morning when we say that God’s love in Christ is to you personally. It’s that kind of love. It’s not a love that costs nothing, it’s a love that costs everything, that destroyed the warmth of a family the way it would destroy the warmth of this dear family here. And that’s what is meant when we say that God loves you personally. He loves you in fact, as much as he loved his own Son. That’s it.He loves you as much as he loved his own Son because he was prepared to let his Son be destroyed so that that selfish heart inside you that is given over completely to dependence on people, and to things, and to experiences, and all kinds of outward things that makes you a slave to them, that heart was put into his Son Jesus and destroyed there. And God loves you therefore, as much as heloves his own Son. And loved ones, I honestly think that if you’re sitting there this morning and you’re trying to wheedle out of this situation, you’re really – it’s really like that old drunk coming into Jim and saying, “Thanks for your son’s heart,” and then going out and getting drunk and murdering and raping his way through the rest of his life.It means the sacrifice may as well not have been made. It means that as Jim puts the body of his son into the ground he senses the terrible futility of it. And really you can sit here very sophisticated this morning in Minneapolis here in the United States of America and you can go out of this room and really just continue to live that rotten selfish in turned life whereby you suck love from everybody and you’ll suck security from everybody but really you may as well be the old drunk who is saying, “Thanks,” and then going out and living the whole life over again. And of course, you can imagine the pain that must be in the Father’s heart as he sees you do that.Loved ones, God loves you as much as he loves his own Son. He loves you as much as he loves his own Son. I think you see a lot of you have an almost satanic talent for agreeing with that in regard to everybody else in the universe. I mean, it is almost satanic that you can listen often to that statement and you can say – and there’s something inside you that ticks and says, “Well yeah, that would be lovely if he loved me that way.”Well certainly he does love the world that way because John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” So I’m glad he loves the world and loves everybody but loved ones, he loves you, and me, and you, and you, he loves you that way. It’s not everybody else. If you had been the only person in the whole world with a selfish rotten heart that was enslaving your life God would still have let his Son die so that he could destroy that heart in him. God loves you that way.It’s really important for you to realize that God is able to do that. God is the Creator of the whole universe, he made it all. He made everything in it and so he can conceive of it all, he can understand it all. And I think sometimes your mind doesn’t rise to that that computer we have is not one of the biggest computers at all but it takes five million bytes of information, five million different bytes they call it of information. Now that’s just a computer.Now the Creator who made us knows everything and can conceive of everything at one moment and he can see the whole world at this moment and he knows all the details of it and he controls it all. And that’s why he has the ability to see each one of you. You know, we kind of think, “Oh well four billion people in the world,” but loved ones, four billion is nothing. There are billions, and billions, and billions of details that the Creator looks after in this universe.Now maybe you’d look at one of references that states that, it’s Psalms 104 if you look at it. Psalms 104:14, “Thou dost cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread to strengthen man’s heart. The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon which he planted. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the badgers. Thou hast made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. Thou makest darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep forth. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they get them away and lie down in their dens. Man goes forth to his work and to his labor until the evening.” And a million other things our Creator controls and he can see them all and see the details.But the amazing thing is this, that you, you yourself, I mean you may think, “Oh for goodness sake I’m just one of a bunch here and one just of a larger bunch outside,” but do you know that you’re different from the whole of the creation? That you’re the only creation that is made in God’s own image? You are actually made in the image of God. That’s what it says, the Bible way in the beginning of Genesis 1 says, “God spoke,” and presumably to his Son and he said, “My Son, let us make man in our image.” And so we are the crown of creation loved ones. And it’s important for you maybe to just see that, those of you who don’t realize, we were the greatest thing that God made and it’s in Genesis 1:26. Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,’” and then you see He put us over the whole universe, “And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” And you are special to God.And really I think if the old evolution game has done any harm, it’s stolen from some of us who absorbed so much of it in high school it’s stolen from us the realization that we are vitally different from animals and plant life. And you are loved ones there is no animal that has the self-critical faculty that you have. There is no animal that can worship as you can. You are different from everything else in creation and you are in fact the whole purpose that God had in making creation so God has a different attitude to you. You’re special in his life and in his mind and he loves you. And you know loves you not just in a general sense, but if Kris knows when David needs food, if she knows when he’s restless at night, if she knows where he’s playing, if she knows what clothes he needs, so does your Father. Your Father loves you as much as he loves his own Son and he takes the same care of you.You know loved ones, honestly I don’t want to insult you but you’re just dumb if you keep on thinking that God started the whole thing and has left you to make it on your own. Can you not see that the whole thing is held together by his hands, or by some power? I mean, it’s only last week that we’ve learned that the dust bowl is almost repeating itself in the western states. The earth is so dry that the earth is just blowing off with the snow. Now do you see that if God stopped maintaining the balance of nature the whole thing would fall apart? You only have to look at your own life, how many times could you have been killed, how many times could you have made the wrong turning into a car? How many times have you got passed an intersection and you’ve said, “Ah that was almost it”? And loved ones, you have to face it, that there is somebody somewhere, either that or you are the luckiest person but there is somebody somewhere who has the whole thing in his hands and holds it together in this precarious balance of nature that exists. And loved ones, that someone watches you day after day, after day. That’s it. That’s what his Son said. His Son implied to us that his Father did not just watch the stars, and did not watch just the main movements of the great nations, but that his Father watches individuals’ day-by-day.Now loved ones, you need to look at that again with me because I think this is where – well, this is where sister’s parents are in agony and how many of the rest of us? How many husbands and wives have been in strain because the bank account is low? Well you know it would almost be like all of us standing up here if I asked you to stand up if you’ve ever allowed strain to come into your home relationship because of the state of your finances or your possessions. And loved ones, it’s so vital to see that God loves you enough to be concerned about those and it’s Matthew 10:29. Matthew 10:29 and the tiniest bird in the whole universe, he knows when it dies. He knows when it dies. Matthew 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will.”Not a sparrow dies unless God allows it to die and if he allows it to die he knows the plan he has for it because he is a loving God. And not a sparrow, loved ones, dies without God knowing. And you know, Verse 31, how many sparrows do you think you’re worth? “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” And loved ones, that’s the truth, God not only destroyed his own Son for you and loves you as much as his own Son, but he loves you more than well what would you say, three billion sparrows? And he knows when one falls to the ground.Now, could you get that into your head? When a sparrow falls to the ground the Creator knows. Isn’t that amazing? He knows when a sparrow falls to the ground. Now, does he know when you have gone from blue into red or from black into red? Yes he does. He knows immediately that bank account is turned, he knows. In fact, he knew before it happened, he saw the trend. Does he know how you’re feeling this morning? Of course he knows. If he knows as relatively simple an organism as a sparrow he certainly knows a complex an organism as you.In fact, the truth is, and you know, this is so funny that you and I have difficulty getting a hold of it, but the truth is that your wife, or your friend may know when you go to the barber’s or the hair dressers but God knows how many hairs you got cut off. That’s right. And you know, Jesus – it’s so ridiculous isn’t it, it’s so corny that Jesus had to mean it because it was such a ridiculous way to put it but you know, you see it there in Verse 30, “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” And loved ones, that’s true. God loves you and knows everything about you and is vitally concerned about how things are and he’s walking side-by-side with you.You know how Kris does it with David, I imagine, you know how she tries to get him to do things and she’s there every moment and if he looks as if he’s falling she’s right there and so is any mum or dad. We’re dealing with the most beautiful, most wonderful, most loving Father that ever existed and do you not think he’s walking that way with you? Do you not think he’s walking right alongside you and when you look as if you’re going to stumble he’s right there? Of course he is.He watches you day-by-day loved ones. And really Jesus said there’s a way for us to walk in the face of that reality and its there, if you’d like to look at it in Matthew 6:25 and this is really it. Matthew 6:25, and this was this only begotten Son whom God gave for you, this is him speaking and he knows his Father and he says, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father fees them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” Then in 34, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”And I think some of you will feel, “Well, maybe for Carter and maybe for good people, maybe for righteous people, maybe for famous people, maybe that’s true.” Loved ones, if that’s the case why did Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, the express image of our Creator, why did he spend all thistime with the little nobodies in the world? Why? I mean, that’s the truth, that’s what his enemy said about him I think its Matthew 11:19. Matthew 11:19, “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” And the truth is that God loves you.Whatever you’re like this morning, whether you’re the rottenest person here in this room, whether you’re the most unknown person here in this room, whether you’re the most unimportant person in the whole universe, God loves you and he knows you personally and to him you are the dearest person he ever created. God loves you like that loved ones. And of course the amazing thing about that love is that it’s different from all other loves.If you depend on your father’s love even, your earthly father’s love there comes times when he gets impatient with you or when he’s not there to help you. If you depend on your wife’s love there comes times when she doesn’t understand what you’re experiencing. She tries to love you but she can’t love you. If you’re depending on your roommate’s love, or your friend’s love there comes times when they aren’t there and it’s hard for them to keep the love the same all the time.Loved ones, would you look in James at the special thing that’s different about God’s love. It’s James 1:17. James 1:17, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Your Father loves you the same all the time. And so if you get up in the morning and you’re depending on a sun shining day to make you feel good you end up with highs and lows. That’s what this part of the verse of Romans 8:9 is talking about our emotions because it says, “That nothing will separate us from the love of God neither height nor depth.” And if you’re depending on sun shining day or snowy day, whether there’ll be snow on the slopes or whether they won’t, if you’re depending on external things you’re up and down all the time.It depends on whether the thing was good you have an emotional high, you have a height an emotional low you have a depth. It’s the same if you’re dependent on people, if you’re dependent on other people’s love for you they smile at you you’re up there, they frown at you you’re down there. Your life is a continual switchback experience. But do you see that if you begin to live your life, an inner life, an interior life in your spirit preoccupied with your Father’s love for you, preoccupied with what he wants to do with you today, preoccupied with what he plans for you today, then do you see you at last come onto a constant? And it’s possible to have neither heights nor depths that separate you from that love of God and that’s the promise, that neither height nor depth will separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. And if that’s a promise there’s a condition. What is the condition? The condition is that you would start concentrating on your Father’s love for you instead of on other people’s love. That’s it.What you look at will run your life. That’s right. Tomorrow through the mail comes the bank statement. If your eyes are on that and if you depend on your bank account for your security, if you have said, “Yeah, well all this is true enough but I’d rather look after my own security,” and so obviously your money is your security, do you see that that bank account determines whether you have a high or low that day? But do you also see that if that bank account comes and it just looks bad but you are used continually to believing in your Father’s love and looking up to him immediately and saying, “Father, I know you’ve clothed the lilies of the field. Father, I don’t see how we’re going to get through this but I know you love me otherwise you wouldn’t have allowed your own Son to die for me. Father, I know you love me so thank you. I don’t know how this is going to turn out but I know you want me to rest in your love and rest in the peace that you are going topull this through in some way that I don’t understand.” Then loved ones, you walk in peace.It’s the same in regards to your friends. I mean loved ones we’re at the mercy of the media who encourages all the time to be preoccupied with what everybody else thinks of us. Do you see that you’re just the play thing of other people if that happens? Don’t you see you’re the play thing of the next person who smiles at you, or the next person who frowns at you, the next boss who criticizes you, or the next teacher that praises you? And the only way to walk in the love of the Father is to begin to teach yourself inside, to begin to look at things that are unseen, the attitude of your Father Creator to you. And loved ones, that’s the way God wants us to walk, really, in dependence on him and his love.I know that you’re – I’ve sat where you sit and I know – I know the feeling that goes through us, it goes through us, but other people aren’t living this way, and is it real and does it really work? Loved ones, it’s real and it works. There are hundreds of us even in this room who can testify to that. But you, to make it work in you, have to start depending on your Father’s love. Start being preoccupied, “Lord, what are you thinking of me?” Start treating him as a warm loving father person and not as a philosophical idea in your head and start dealing with him as your Father. And loved ones, you really will begin to find a life that is without heights or depths. Really, it’s possible.So I really pray – in thinking of that I don’t know, I look over and I think of the little one here who thinks, “Well, it’s true for everybody but me.” Well loved ones, if you’re thinking that then it’s you I’m speaking to, God loves you. Your Father loves you and he does know about your clothes, and he does know about the car, and he has planned a way out. But, he wants you to look to him instead of fretting yourself by looking at the external things. Stop looking at the things that are seen, that’s the key, and start looking at the things that are unseen. The dear Father that you remember Manley Hopkins says in one of his poems, “That hovers over the world,” that dear Father that hovers over the world and has his hands around your life, really.Now loved ones, if all you do is take those ideas you haven’t even begun. You need to begin tomorrow morning to get up and say, “Father, thank you that you love me, thank you that you’re taking care of this whole day and Lord, I want you to show me in your word what way you want me to behave this day.” And then open that dear word there and start a relationship with your Father as the one who gave his Son to die for you to change you. Let us pray.
A Simple Gospel - CONSECRATION
A Simple GospelMatthew 1:21Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillFrom time to time, loved ones, what we have done is pause in the study of Romans, and that’s what I’d like to do just today, before we begin to tackle in detail Israel and all that God has to show us through the people of Israel, and I’d like once more just to preach the gospel, very briefly, just a simple, clean gospel, because I think we allow it to get dirty by all the frills we add to it. Again and again I think that some of you loved ones are anxious to know and understand, and yet because of the presuppositions that you have in your mind and because of the background that we all come from, you still don’t see it as clearly and cleanly as it really is, and so I’d just like to share a clean gospel with you this morning. It’s Matthew 1:21. That’s the cleanest gospel you can get, before we’ve tampered with it. Matthew 1:21. All of us will know the words that the angel spoke to Joseph telling him about the coming birth of His son, “She will bear a son,” the angel said, Mary will bear a son, “and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”Now would you just look at your translation there and would you notice the preposition, the preposition before the phrase “their sins”. The preposition is “from”: He will save His people FROM their sins. That’s what God has promised to do for us in Jesus. Now, could I push you again by pointing out to you that there’s a great difference between the word for “from” in Greek and “in”, just in case you think Matthew could have fumbled over the spelling. The word “from” is “apo” in Greek, or it looks like that in English transliteration, a-p-o. The word for “in” is “in”, or it looks like that in English letters. So this is the word for “from”, and that’s the word in Matthew 1:21. It’s “from” their sins. This is the word for “in”, and it isn’t there, it isn’t there at all.Now loved ones, just to startle you into reflection for a moment, the great bulk of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity believes that THAT is the word, “in”. Now really, truly. In practice, and often even in the way we preach and share with each another, the greater number of us translate the gospel as if the Greek word was “in” and not “apo”. In other words, we translate that verse not as it is, “you will call His name Jesus, for He will save his people FROM their sins”, we translate it as if it was “you will call His name Jesus, for He will save his people IN their sins”. Now loved ones, that isn’t the gospel. And yet brothers and sisters, that is what the great majority of us who think of ourselves, vaguely even, as evangelicals, teach.Now really, if you’re honest with me, I think you’ll have to admit that the great majority of us believe that Person A may sin and Person B may sin, but Person A is a Christian, so he knows that Jesus died for him, and therefore Jesus’ blood covers his sins. He may be sinning like mad and beating his wife every night, but yet he’s a Christian, and so his sins are forgiven, and so he’s saved IN his sins, or despite his sins. Whereas Person B is a miserable old wretched pagan, a non-Christian, and he beats his wife every night, but he doesn’t believe that Jesus died for him, and HE is going to hell. That’s normally the way we all interpret the gospel. We really, in other words, say that the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that one can sin with immunity, or with impunity, without being punished, and the other can sin, but IS punished. Now loved ones, that is not the gospel. The gospel is not “Jesus will save you IN your sins.” The gospelis, that “Jesus will save you FROM your sins.”I don’t think there’s one person here that won’t see what the outcome of that has been. The outcome of that truncated version of the gospel has been a name for Christianity which is pitiful in secular society. Because secular society will say the same thing about Christians again and again, “if they practice what they preached,” “they talk big, but they don’t do big,” “they talk about what they should do for God, but they don’t do it.” Indeed I put it to you, what has put you and me off ordinary church life and ordinary Christianity? Is it not seeing often moms and dads, often friends, often older people, believing, believing, preaching, preaching, arguing over doctrine, arguing over church denomination, but not living like Jesus. Now loved ones, it’s really because we’ve perverted the gospel. We’ve made it mean Jesus will save us IN our sins, not FROM our sins. That’s why we get the bumper sticker, “Christians are not perfect, only forgiven.” Now it’s nice, it’s nice in a way, except that, I know as a person who was not a Christian, I would look at a bumper sticker like that and say, “Yeah, that’s their excuse” and I would think to myself, “Yeah, yeah, big talk” “Yeah, mercy, mercy, but I have to live with them and all their misery.” Now loved ones, do you see that the gospel is that Jesus will save us FROM our sins, not IN our sins?I don’t think there’s one of us here that doesn’t have tremendous respect for old C.S. Lewis. Now I think probably almost all of us, whatever our background is, have great respect for the man’s clarity of thought and for his own integrity. When he says things, you can see the reason behind it, and you can go with him in it. I remember even before I would have stood with him spiritually, I respected what he said because he seemed an honest, intelligent man. Now, you may not know it, for old C.S. Lewis had mentioned this one Sunday morning, old C.S. Lewis came to Jesus primarily through the writings of one man. That one man was an old 19th century Scottish preacher called George MacDonald, whom some of you may have met through his novels. George MacDonald saw to the heart of what we’re talking about this morning, just very clearly. He almost put it in the same words that we’ve been using, he says about that verse, Matthew 1:21, “Jesus will save us from our sins.” He says, “the Lord never came to deliver man from the consequences of their sins while yet those sins remained.” The Lord never came to deliver us from the consequences of our sins, you see, which is usually in our minds hell, you see, while yet those sins remained. Then I’ll read it slowly because the logic is a little … tricky. “That would be to cast out of the window the medicine of cure.” He regards, you see, the punishment as a medicine of cure. “While yet the man lays sick, to go dead against the very laws of being.” Then he says, “yet men have constantly taken this verse Matthew 1:21, to mean that Jesus came to save them from the punishment of their sins. This idea, this miserable fancy has terribly corrupted the preaching of the gospel. The message of the good news has not been truly delivered.”Now loved ones, do you see what really he and countless others are saying? That DEATH is the wages of sin, in order to DESTROY sin. Death is not the wages of sin, that somehow you have to try to get somebody else to pay for you. Death is the wages of sin in that it DESTROYS sin. God is not sitting up in heaven saying, “How will I show these miserable creatures that I made that I’m real mad, I’m just real mad with them, and I just am real mad with their sins. I know! I’ll roar and I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll kill my own son.” It’s not so, loved ones. The very picture of it seems ridiculous to us. The Father hates and detests sin, and has to destroy it, and has to burn it out of existence. That’s why he said, the wages of sin is death. That’s why the Bible says “he who has died is free from sin,” — not from the consequences of sin. The consequences of sin is death, and death is there to destroy sin. That’s the very purpose of death. The purpose of Jesus’ death is to free us from our sins — to destroy sin in us — to free our lives from sinning. It isn’t so that we’ll be able to go on sinning in this life, and yet have the feeling, “yeah, yeah, but that neighbor of mineor that colleague in the office, he sins and I sin, except that he’ll have to face the consequences of sin, but lucky old me, I’m not going to have to do that. Loved ones, that’s not true. God’s desire in Jesus, and in Jesus’ death, is to free our lives from our sins.Please don’t sit there and say, “Oh, you’ve destroyed my peace, you’ve destroyed my peace!” Loved ones, if you really want God with all your heart, you’ll respond, you’ll say, “Oh, that’s what He wants, that’s what He wants. Ah, I know He’s a merciful Father. I know He’s going to continue to forgive my sins until he can get ahold of them, but Lord I know you want rid of them now, I know that’s the purpose of Jesus’ death, I know you want rid of them, I know you’re not going to kill me this moment just because I have something in my life that’s not right, but Lord as long as I side with you and say that’s why Jesus died, ok Lord, I want rid of the sin in my life.” Loved ones, if you’re sitting there with that complacent, lackadaisical attitude that says, “Ah well, I may not have all the sins out of my life, but I know that I believe Jesus died for me, so I believe I’m ok anyway, I’ll do my best.” Loved ones, that’s a perversion of the gospel. The gospel is not, “believe that Jesus is going to die instead of you and do your best to please God,” no. It’s not “believe and try.” The gospel is, “be willing to die with Jesus, to running your own life, and come alive in the power of His Spirit to living like Him.” The gospel is not an autosuggestion.Now loved ones, I would point out to you that if you believe the other way, all you are is a Jew. That’s all you are. If you believe the other way, that you can sin with impunity because Jesus died for you, you’re a Jew. The Jews knew that their sins could be covered: that’s all they could be. Now I point that out to you, in Psalm 32:1, and that’s a Jew speaking, Psalm 32:1. The Jews knew that they could have their sins forgiven. They knew that their sins could be covered. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” That’s all that could happen. Jesus was the lamb that was slain from before the foundation of the world. He was slain in the heart of God before the creation ever took place. In virtue of that, God refused to flood the world out with another flood. So in that sense, he gave men respite. He forgave them for the rebellion against Him, giving them a chance to deal with them during this life, so he could forgive sins even in the times of Jews.Now, Jesus had not died on the cross. It was virtually impossible for anyone but the outstanding prophets and priests and kings, who had drawn very close to the Spirit of Christ, to experience that deliverance from self that can take place in us because of Jesus’ death. They did know that their sin could be covered. Look at verse 5. “I acknowledged my sin to thee, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’; then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.” Now loved ones, Jews could have the guilt of their sins forgiven. They could have the GUILT of their sins forgiven. God was satisfied with that in those days. You’ll find that, remember, when Paul was preaching to a group of people in Acts 17:30, that’s part of what that verse means, Acts 17:30, “The times of ignorance God overlooked.” Now not only the ignorance of the pagans, who didn’t know anything about God, but even the ignorance of the Jews, who did not know the truth of the lamb being slain from the foundation of the world, and all of us being destroyed with him with all our self-centeredness and our self-will. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent.” That’s why, loved ones, you’re under a different situation now and dispensation than the Jews. You can’t sit there and hear me preach this stuff Sunday after Sunday and say “Well, well, I don’t want to go that far, I just want to be a good Jew.” Because the times of ignorance God overlooked, and He would overlook that kind of thing in those days when they knew no better. Now you know, and I know, that we, with all our right to ourselves and our right to our own way, because these are all the things that bring sin in our lives. All our pride, and all our preoccupation with people treating us the right way, and resenting people who criticize uswrongly or treat us unjustly. All that was crucified with Jesus, and if we’re willing to die with Him, and identify ourselves completely with Him, we know we can be freed from that, and from all the sin that stems from it.Now loved ones, that’s the light that you and I are responsible to respond to. That’s the difference between a Jew and a Christian. A Jew is one who all he knows is that his sin’s forgiven and the guilt taken away. A Christian knows not only the guilt taken away, but the power of sin in his life destroyed by the power of Jesus’ death.Would you like to see what the life of a good Jew was like? Now don’t faint: Romans 7. Dearly loved ones, you know we think of ourselves better than we ought, cause I know you’re all fighting this and saying, ah I know you got this one wrong, brother. Loved ones, this is it, you know, Romans 7:15, this is a Jew speaking. I know the argument over this is a defeated Christian, loved ones, I’ll show you why it’s a Jew in a moment. Romans 7:15, they had no power in their lives. “I do not understand my own actions, for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good, so then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” Now loved ones, you may say to me, brother do you not think that’s a defeated Christian? Loved ones, no, no that’s a Jew. Even a baby Christian has the power that is stated clearly in 1 John 3:9, if you’d look at it. Even a little one who has just begun to know his position with Jesus or her position with Jesus on the cross is in the same situation as that described in 1 John 3:9, “No one born of God commits sin.” In other words, when Paul says, “I do what I do not want,” he’s saying, I’m not a Christian, because a Christian never does what he doesn’t want to do, because that’s the word, it’s poieo, those of you who know Greek, and it’s p-o-i-e-o in English letters. That’s the word used in 1 John 3:9. It means “to do,” it becomes poet, you know, in English, poetry, you make something, you do something. Poieo is “to do.” That’s what that verse says. No one born of God DOES SIN. That is, even a little child Christian, even a little one who has just begun to know Jesus has enough power of Jesus’ Spirit in his life to hold down what is wrong. At least he can rise to the level of the noble pagans, that’s it. That’s what that verse says.I know, loved ones, all of us have been taught, “ah brother, you can’t say that – “that sin is perfection”. It’s nowhere near perfection at all. It’s just that outwardly you’re able to conform your life to what you know is true and right, that Plato could do, that Socrates could do, that Confucius could do. You read their lives, their lives that are flawless outwardly. Now loved ones, even a little baby Christian who has really dealt with Jesus and seen that God’s purpose in including him in Jesus’ death on Calvary was to destroy his life, to destroy his right to his life, his right to his own way, his right to plans, future, those are all the rights that we defend, that actually produce sin in us eventually.Loved ones, those are what make us gods of our own lives. I know we all like to think, ah that’s what a good red blooded American has a right to, you know, the right to his own decisions, the right to his own future, no. That’s only the right of a person who is running his own life, who is trying to be his own god. It was on Calvary in Jesus you and I were included in his death, and those rights were destroyed, and the moment we agree to that, and that’s what it means to become a Christian, the moment we agree to that, that moment we’re freed from all the resentments that come from not getting our own way, from having other people treat us unfairly. Now loved ones, that’s what it means to be a Christian. You don’t do sin, you may feel sin within, and that I’d like to deal with in some future Sundays, you may feel anger within, you may feel resentment within, you may feel jealousywithin, but you have enough power in Jesus’ Spirit to hold that all down and to be outwardly a person that’s pleasant to live with.Loved ones, do you see what I’m getting at? I think a lot of us have taken the current thinking of our society, and we’ve used it as an excuse to say, “Well you know, I’m not through to the fullness of the Spirit” or some other phrase that we use as an excuse, and “that’s why, I’m so hard to live with.” “That’s why, I lose my temper every week.” “Ah, you know, I’m not through to those heights of Christian sanctity that we’re meant to get to.” Loved ones, there’s no heights there. An ordinary little Christian will not commit sin. He has the power, she has the power to live in conformity outwardly to what they know to be true and right.Did you see the commercial last night on television, a little girl about to steal something from a store? It wasn’t put out by Lutheran League or something like that, or the Catholic church or something else. Isn’t it dreadful that it was put out by the businesses instead? It was put out by retailers, and it said, “Shoplifting is wrong.” There’s something funny, isn’t there, about, it’s the retailers that are trying to defend absolutes, of course because they know we’re going to destroy ourselves if we keep at it. It’s interesting that it’s the business people that start coming off with commercials pointing out “that is wrong.” Why do they have to do it? Well you know why, because we’ve all encouraged each other to think, “you can’t help doing wrong things, you can’t. With these poor wee weak wills that we have, ah we can’t, you know. We feel temper, oh we just have to let it rip, in fact if you let it rip, maybe the more you express it the more you get rid of it.” That’s just silly, you know, the more you express it the stronger it grows.We’ve been taught to believe that we’re poor puny little human beings, and after all, human beings can’t be perfect, and that’s the excuse we use to be absolute ogres, you know, we can’t be perfect. We don’t realize that, and we’re not talking about perfection, we’re talking about horror stories, really. You know that we’ve brought ourselves up on that. We’ve been teaching ourselves, “you can’t, you can’t, your wee weak will can’t do it.” Loved ones, you have enough of Jesus’ Spirit in you to obey outwardly all that he says is right. Now I agree with you, we have to deal later with that: can you be delivered from inward sins, from feeling anger, from the inclination to sin. The truth is you can, but at least the first step in Christianity is not believing that Jesus died instead of you, because the Bible doesn’t say that anywhere. The Bible says Jesus died for you. But it means so that you could die with him, to yourself and to all the powers within you that make you do what you don’t want to do. If you’re willing to identify yourself with Jesus, he through his Spirit can give you enough power and enough grace to live like him.Just finish in this. That’s why when the people on the day of Pentecost asked Peter, “What do we do now, after you preached this to us?” He said, “Be baptized,” it’s Acts 2:38, “Be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” And in other places he talks about being baptized INTO Jesus, and the word “into” in Greek is different from the word “in”, that’s the word “in” there, you see. “In” means “in”. “Into” is e-i-s. It’s a different word entirely. In other verses, you get that phrase used, “Be baptized into Jesus.” It means, if you want to be a Christian, you identify yourself totally with Jesus. You say, Lord Jesus, I’m willing to die as you did, to all the things that we human beings think we should have, to reputation, to position, to our friends and our peers praising us, to security and finances and material things. To fame, to being well-known, to being looked up to, to getting our own way, Lord Jesus, if you had nowhere to lay your head, I’m willing to identify with you. Loved ones, that’s what becoming a Christian is: it’s identifying yourself completely with Jesus, because as you do that, the power of his miraculous death on Calvary begins to destroy sin in your life, and begins tofree you from your sins.I’m just anxious that, on these Sunday mornings, when we enjoy being with each other and in God’s presence so much, I’m just anxious that you won’t misunderstand what the simple gospel is. The simple gospel is, Jesus will save you FROM your sins, not IN your sins. Now oh I pray that nobody will meet any of you in this family and have to mutter under their breath, “I wish they practiced what they preached.” (What’s Campus Church, what’s Fish Enterprises? They’ll all be gone and dust in a few years.) I really pray that you won’t be hypocrites, and that none of us will be those intellectual believers who are just good Jews, but that you’ll really come into a relationship with Jesus that will free you from your sins.Now while it’s so late, I can’t ask for questions loved ones, but do come up after, if you want to talk. Let us pray:Dear Father, thank you for your words to us that if we walk in the light as you are in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanseth us from all sin. Thank you, Father, that if we set our hearts against all that is wrong in our lives, and we move towards an identification with Jesus with all our hearts, you will be merciful to us. Lord, you will not forgive those of us who camp on the sides of the river and try to get forgiveness without any deliverance in our own lives. Lord, we know that you will not tolerate the Pharisees or the hypocrites, so Lord we would come to you now, and Holy Spirit ask you, is there any way in which we are not entering into Jesus’ death? Is there any sin in our lives that we need to be freed from, that you can free us from? Lord we know you’ll forgive us until you free us, if we give our whole hearts and lives to you, for that freedom and deliverance. Lord we would do that this morning, trust you to make us people that live like your Son, and that will be enjoyable to be with in heaven. We ask this in His name.Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with each one of us, now and evermore. Amen.
Willing to be Changed - CONSECRATION
Willing to be Changed – (Open Microphone)Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillAt 6:30 this morning perhaps 40 of us went down to Lake Calhoun and about 20 or 25 of us were baptized. You know that none of us think that you have to be baptized before you can have a real relationship with God. I was a Methodist and I was baptized as a baby and I have never really felt the need to be baptized again. But many of us have sensed that Jesus did want us to be baptized as a matter of obedience to him. So, that’s why we have baptism services, maybe twice in the summer time and once in the winter.Of course the baptism that we need to experience is a real one but it is not just the baptism into water. It’s a different kind of baptism. You know when you go under the water, you have to suddenly begin to live independent of the life that you have already stored up within you, haven’t you? Then you have to live certainly by the breath that you have taken before you go under the water and you have to live by the energy and the strength that you have stored up in the past because you are cut off from any more food while you are under the water. You have to live by whatever inner contentment and peace about yourself you have because you can’t have any contact with other people; you are cut off from them and from their approval or their recognition. So, you can see that when you go under the water you’re in a sense cut off from any external supply of life.Now of course, most of us can’t take that for more than three minutes and unfortunately, there the reason is not just because we don’t have the lung capacity but because so many of us during our lifetime have been utterly dependent on people for our sense of identity. We’ve been utterly dependent on circumstances for our sense of happiness or contentment. We have been utterly dependent on things for our sense of security. So, when we are cut off from the external world like that, many of us have a real traumatic experience of frustration and we lack satisfaction in our lives if we are for a moment cut off from all those things. Loved ones, that’s the kind of baptism that we do need to experience because you can only have a relationship with God if you have been baptized into a death to all other relationships that would try to supply what He alone can supply. Now that baptism you do need to experience.You might not experience baptism with water or you may, but you do need to experience the baptism into dying to all other relationships that will try to supply you with what God alone can supply you. That’s the true Baptism that is necessary. Loved ones, unless you do experience that, you will never experience spiritual regeneration. Unless you come to the point where you die and are willing to be cut off from people as the source of your identity. Unless you are willing to die and be cut off from the external world of circumstances to provide you with happiness or uplift or optimism, you can never enter into a real relationship with your Creator. It’s the same with things. Unless you are willing to be cut off from the sense of security that you get from the world of things and possessions, you can never really experience a real relationship with God, because that’s really what sin is, you know. Sin is depending on people for your sense of identity instead of God. Sin is depending on things for your sense of security instead of God. Sin is depending on congenial circumstances for your happiness instead of depending on God. That’s what sin is, really.Being baptized into a death to those things is being freed from sin and declaring to your Creator, “Lord, You alone can supply me with these things.” That’s what it means to be baptized into Jesus’ death, loved ones. It means that you’re willing to identify yourself with Jesus in his death to people and to the opinion and the approval of people for your own sense of significance.It means you are willing to be baptized into that with Him. It means you are willing to be baptized into His death to food and shelter and clothing as a reassurance of security. It means you are willing to be baptized into His death to congenial or convenient circumstances as the source of your happiness. In a way, it means that just as you are cut off from the life-support system of this external physical world, when you are buried in the water — so when you are buried with Jesus you are cut off from the life-support system of this present external world.Of course, the killer for most of us is, we are so used to that life-support system that our whole personality reacts against that kind of death. Indeed, our personality cannot adjust to it; it cannot adapt to a different life-support system and the only reason it can at all, loved ones, is that God took your people-addicted, thing-addicted, circumstance-addicted personality and He put it into His son Jesus on Calvary and He destroyed it. He destroyed it in a cosmic destruction, and for that reason your personality is able to change like that in a moment, if you’re willing. If you’re willing, your personality can change like that — in a moment. It can be looking that way for security, significance and the happiness — and it can change like that.Loved ones you can, you can! It is Satan and the whole trend of his servants that we have in our society today; the trends you can change, you can change. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, you can change because God has already worked the change in His Son and all you are doing by being willing for that change is to allow Him to actualize that in you this very moment. That’s why it is so important to take a definite step of commitment. Doesn’t matter whether it’s going down into the water or not, doesn’t matter whether it’s coming up here to the altar or not, and doesn’t matter whether it’s sitting in your own chair at home — but a definite moment of commitment when you say, “Lord God, I am willing. I am willing to die to the life-support system that has been my only reinforcement and my only strength. I am willing to die, Lord, to people and their opinion of me for my sense of identity and significance. I am willing, Lord, to die now to things and possessions for my feeling of security. I am willing to die to congenial circumstances for my sense of happiness and contentment and Lord I am willing to depend on You, and You in me, and I am willing to live off our relationship and that alone, and anything else that comes to me is just an extra that You give me, but I am willing to depend on You only.” Loved ones, the moment that you part company from your last relationship of dependence on this external world, that moment God is able to cut the umbilical cord that connects you to people and things and circumstances and He is able to energize you by his Holy Spirit so that you immediately sense that He is real, and you enter into all the security and the significance and the happiness of a real personal relationship with him. So loved ones, He can only work that, if you are willing on this side to part company from those things. If you are willing to die to that life-support system, if you are willing to be cut off from that physical external world as the source of your security, significance and happiness. May I just make that point?I am not saying that you stop eating. I am not saying that you stop having friends, not saying that you stop owning things, but you know what I am saying. You stop using those as your source of security. You stop using those as your source of significance and sense of identity. You stop using those as your source of happiness because loved ones, it’s using those things that makes you so obnoxious when you don’t get what you want. That’s what makes you so obnoxious to the loved ones that live with you — to your friends, to your colleagues, to everybody you come in contact with. What makes us obnoxious is we get so irritated when we don’t get what people we want or what things we want or what circumstances we want. “It’s raining today and I was going to go sailing. It’s not snowing and I was going to go skiing.” Loved ones, that’s the source of sin in our lives and beingfreed from that means dying to all those things as our right.Now really the moment you are willing to give up your last relationship of dependence on whichever it is — maybe it’s your dependence on your bank account, maybe it’s your dependence on your car or maybe it’s your dependence on other people’s opinion of you — but the moment you are willing to die to that, the moment you are willing to be identified with Jesus in his attitude to that, that moment actually God regenerates you and makes you a child of His. The death with Jesus and the resurrection in the new relationship with God is proved by the first word or the first act that you say or do, that shows to the world and to the angels and to your friends that you are in a new relationship — that’s right.God is only glorified when you speak the first word or do the first act that declares that a change has been brought in your life. It could be anything. It could be writing out a check to someone for sheer love of Jesus. The moment you put the pen to the paper, that is a proclamation to God that no angel can question that you have entered into a new relationship to God and that you’re now looking to Him for your security and your significance and your happiness.It could be someone criticizes you in the office and you don’t whip back at them, you’re silent and you’re quiet and you’ll love them. That is the first thought or act that signifies to God and to the whole world that you are in a different relationship. Loved ones, I think that’s really what is meant in Romans 10:10 and maybe you’ll look at it, because it is a different interpretation but I really think it is the meaning of the verse, “For man believes with his heart and so is justified and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.” You remember that in the letter to Timothy, Paul talks about Jesus making the good confession. We so often think all confessions have to be speaking with your mouth. Well, really no. Making a good confession is being what you now are, whatever that is. It’s the act or the word or the thought that proclaims to everyone that you are in a new relationship to God and that you have ceased your old relationship of dependence on people and things and circumstances. That’s really what the good confession is and that’s why many of the old martyrs that died are talked about as making the good confession, they made it with their lifeblood. They declared there and then, I am not dependent on this world for my safety or for my importance. There is another world that I depend on. So making the good confession, loved ones, is the act or the word or the thought that occurs in the practical everyday lives of all Christians. Acts or thoughts or words that can be observed and seen by anyone who cares to listen or to look that declare that these people are not dependent on things or people or circumstances for their happiness or security or significance but they depend on God Himself.I think what really helps so many of us is to hear some of the rest of us share the first little steps that we took that way in our relationship with Jesus. That’s what I had asked you to share very briefly this morning. If you could just keep it to a minute so that as many of us can share as possible. Would you share the first signs in your life that you saw that plainly showed you that something had happened inside you, that a mighty work had been done in your life that had changed your attitudes and changed the way you dealt with people and the way you thought about life. That will really help because some of the rest of us probably are having trouble with some of those things and it just makes all the difference to know that yes, you can actually be freed from that.Now if you want to share other things that’s good but it would really help if you would concentrate on that. Those of you who are just new in Jesus this summer and those of you who have been long run away, if God prompts you, will you try to share just those first signs in your own life that showed you that you were in a new relationship to God and a different relationship to the world because Ithink a lot of us wonder, is it possible? Is it possible ever to cut that old cord? And it’s good to hear that it is. I could share for the next half hour myself but I will keep quiet.(Members of the congregation were then invited to share their testimonies.)Speaker 1: You know it’s easy to come up here and say something or sit there and explode. Today is an anniversary in my life because just about a year ago, I finally stopped running from the Lord and allowed Him to come into my life and to manifest His love to me, in my life. In all my life I had been kind of a nominal Christian and I knew about the Lord and I knew that He loved me but you know, it was just too much pain to think about His love constantly and think about Him walking with me everyday and in my life because actually I didn’t really want Him to. There were just too many things in my life that I felt that I couldn’t change but it turned out that I really didn’t want to change them. About a year ago today it was in a midst of a time, a personal tragedy, that I finally realized that if I looked to the Lord, He could give me peace and joy even if the world around me was falling down.And I took this inside and it was really a great experience. Then after that, He didn’t leave me alone although I probably wanted to just take His gift and then use it and then forget about it. He began to point out things in my life that would make me consistent to having His love in my life every minute and every second of the day, things that were more important to me than Him and He’d show these things to me and I’d immediately jump back and say “Oh no, I can’t do that, it’s too important to me.” Then He kept confronting me with these things and He did it very gently. After He confronted me with them I finally realized that, “Yes, Lord, if I wish to have You continue walking with me I have to deal with these things but I don’t have the strength to do it myself.” Then what was really neat was that He showed me strength and He gave it to me and then it became really easy and so I’d have that moment of personal victory and then I’d sit down and say “well, fine — now everything is wonderful” — then he’d point out something else. Even after a year, He’s still doing those things for me. It has just been really amazing everything that I learn every day, all the moments of a personal victory that I have and the moments that I think of defeat but then He turns around and turns them into victory. That’s what I wanted to share.Speaker 2: This is the first day at the rest of my death. Today I was baptized at 6:30 a.m. in front of witnesses, the people who are the closest to me, my friends and my parents, my relatives — and it was just an outward sign to see all my commitment to God — that my life is turned around to Him and as the first outward sign to the people that I am closest to.Speaker 3: Well, by nature I am afraid to get up and talk in front of groups but when I was baptized this morning I left that in the water. So, I am not afraid anymore. What’s always been my experience is that whenever I take a little step for Jesus there is an immediate sense of peace, and then all kinds of doubts and fears. It’s like Jesus gives me a big white blank wall of peace and Satan takes his crayon and puts graffiti all over it.Right after the meeting last Sunday for baptism, Satan started putting doubts and fears and confusion into my mind and I just kept pushing them off and brushing them off, like the little pest that he is. He got really desperate and yesterday morning he started telling me that the baptism was at Lake Harriet instead of Lake Calhoun. So this morning I got up and got dressed and drove to Lake Calhoun and was baptized.Speaker 4: I had the privilege of finding Jesus. Jesus found me in 1947. In 1952, I had marked inmy Bible after a message by dear Pastor, alongside of Galatians 2:20, “Key to Victorious Living” but never entered into that experience. On March 6th, 1973 that verse became alive. Then I started looking for a place that I could just kind of grow in Galatians 2:20. Galatians 2:20 says “I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live yet not I but Christ liveth in me and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” My eyes were opened to the realization that victory in Jesus had to be promoted and worked up by Him through me. All I had to do was be willing to align my will with His will.Then He showed me Philippians 2:13 which says, “For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” I said, “Lord that’s how it’s done: by Philippians 2:13, ‘For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.'” Then I was on the road to victory and it’s been marvelous. I have been listening to Pastor, I have been sitting there on my seat, I said, “Lord, help me get in the cross, get it into those people’s hearts,” — and it’s just marvelous, especially after you come into it. Now I heard our Pastor mention this morning a sinless perfection. He said he did not believe in it, neither do I. I have found that as the Spirit shows me things that are not right with God, then I am responsible to Him for those things and then I come to Calvary and I bring that to the Lord and He washes it away. Then I depend on Him to have victory in whatever that was and then you know as our dear brother said here he thinks He shows me something else and that’s been going on since 1973. God bless you.Speaker 5: I was just sitting in my seat and I had to say something. I just felt God wanted me to come up here and I was scared to death because I really am afraid of talking in front of people but this week something happened to me that I just felt God really wanted me to share. I guess when Pastor talked about baptism this morning, it just really hit me because I gave my life to Christ three years ago, but I’ve felt in the last year that I guess things are really going kind of badly, and I was just frustrated a lot and then Pastor O’Neill talked this morning about just making a step of commitment and just dying to everything. This week I went to a little church on Wednesday night and I was in the service and the pastor said, “I really have a feeling that some of you there want to re-dedicate your life to Christ” and I just really felt it. My sister was with me, and we both had our eyes closed and all of a sudden we’re up in front together and I just felt that I needed to make that step. After making that step this week He just really has blessed me in so many ways and one of the ways was I had a headache all week and I had had it for seven days. And the headache stayed and my husband prayed for me and I thought the headache was going to go away and it didn’t — but you know the headache’s gone this morning, praise God! It’s just the commitment that has really showed me that there is just freedom in Christ and I am just so excited to start living for Him and I now have a lot of growing to do and a lot lot of dying to do but just making that step, it’s just such a blessing to me.Speaker 6: I asked Christ into my life about four years ago and it seems like for the last three years or so I really had a dryness in my life and nothing seemed to really be going anywhere or even growing. And it wasn’t until about four or five months ago that I really discovered why — after somebody told me that prayer time each day and just study time each day would really help me even if it’s five minutes or an hour — whatever time you have to spend doing that– and so I started doing it and I started discovering so many changes in my life just through the fact that so many prayers were answered. Then I started discovering growth and just a real peace in my heart and this relationship that was built was building everyday with God and so I just wanted to share that today. It’s so important for me in my life– this daily prayer — and to have this relationship growing everyday just studying His Word.Speaker 7: When Jesus Christ came into my life in 1974, I had been an artist and I had also been interested in music but to me my whole life was really involved with painting. The most important thing in the world to me was the paintings and I just loved painting. Jesus showed me the real shallowness of my life and my reputation and that it wasn’t anything — and to quote Pastor O’Neill that I was a “self-gratifying, self-glorifying miserable rat.” So, I had said “yes” to Christ in my life and I found it. I had a family, two brothers in particular, younger than I, who have been sort of following in my footsteps and it turned out that they were getting interested in drugs and things and Jesus gave me something to say. He gave me something to say to them, whereas before that I couldn’t ever relate to my brothers. I tried to get them interested in art but now they’re both saved and we have a real brotherhood in Christ and there is hope, while before there was really nothing that we had to share.Speaker 8: I had a couple of jobs in my life where I kept on for two or three years but they were usually jobs that were exciting or at least interesting and in February the Lord gave me a job that was really boring. So after three weeks, after the newness wore off, it was really boring. But He kept me there for seven months and during that time He showed me what you’ve been sharing on Sundays. I was really brought to tears. I began to see that, I began to believe Him for making Himself real in even those eight hours in an exciting way in being my joy, my excitement instead of my job. He just opened up so many things at work, different people that needed to be prayed for and He showed me what He was doing in a way that I could never see before. I just praise Him for that because He drew me closer to Himself and made me realize that He was all I needed in the way of excitement in what I was doing to and now two weeks ago God gave me a new job and I thank Him for that too.Speaker 10: When I was a teenager I would have loved to join a church and I wasn’t able really to make the connection so I decided that the best way to be a Christian was to never join, and that seemed ideal. Now the Lord has really shown me that I am to be dependable and I am to be a part of this and I do identify myself with my church and with each one of you and that really does mean being a part of the family. God really has been doing wonderful things within me.Speaker 11: I found kind of recently that I had a different attitude towards sins, things that I do and things that I do not. I used to really kind of like my sins – such as sometimes doing something I knew was wrong — and I felt resentful and I really wouldn’t want to give that up. I did like doing them you know, but God has really shown me that sins are really nasty. I was praying one time about a month ago and I had gone fishing for the first time–and I saw some leeches. I never saw those before and it looked really nasty to me and so I was praying later and God just showed me that those sins are like leeches on me — and I thought that they were cool and really it is so nasty, leeches coming on me. And I have a really different attitude towards my sins now and if I see one, I am just very anxious to get rid of it. Really, I just hate it — and I didn’t before.
The Cure for Carnality - CONSECRATION
The Cure for Carnality1 Corinthians 11Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillLet’s look at I Corinthians Chapter 11 and it’s the part of God’s word that explains the communion. So, brothers and sisters if you’re here maybe for the first time this morning and you think taking communion is all wrapped up with whether you’re a member of the church or not, just forget that. You know, that’s not what it’s about. So you can take communion this morning if you really understand what it’s about and if you are willing to submit your will to the things that God outlines in your life through your conscience. So, it’s important to see that it’s not connected up with church membership but with whether you’re willing to live your life the way your God wants you to or not.So, this might help you to see that and I Corinthians in 11:23, Paul says, “For I receive from the Lord what I also deliver to you. That the Lord Jesus, on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup after supper saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.”“Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world.” I pray that that may apply to everybody here. Amen.Smallpox has been virtually wiped off the face of the earth. Forty years ago it was a killer disease. It was known as one of the most disfiguring and fatal diseases that we human beings experienced and yet, now it hardly exists anywhere in the whole earth. Why? Because of the almost universal use of smallpox vaccine. Not because of the discovery of small pox vaccine, not because of the existence of small pox vaccine but because of the almost universal use of small pox vaccine. Now I think you see the difference.One of the places we visited in India, 30 years ago, the people there knew that the smallpox vaccine was effective but they decided not to take it and they all died. So it wasn’t enough for them to believe that the smallpox vaccine was effectual. If they didn’t take it, it was not the remedy for the disease in their own lives. Loved ones, every secretary that ends up in bed with her boss, every cold war and every home represented here that destroys a beautiful Saturday and turns the Sunday into a hell, every one of you here who has experienced somebody stabbing you in the back, all those situations are the result of a disease among us that is far more disfiguring of beautiful lives and far more destructive of health and happiness than smallpox ever has been or ever will be. That disease is just sheer carnality, just carnality — just determination to get from people what they should get from God. That’s why some dear girl is taken advantage of by some guy. That’s why you even in your own apartments and your own homes, why we all can hurt the people that we say we lovethe most. Loved ones, it’s because of carnality, because of selfishness, because of wanting to get from others what you can only get from your Maker. The tragedy is that this disease will not only destroy your health, will not only destroy your body but it will project yourself into a lonely eternal darkness after this life is over, unless you get it remedied.Loved ones, there is only one remedy for it and that is Jesus’ death. That’s the only remedy. There are thousands of people even in Christendom who say if you believe that, you’ll be healed. It’s dumb! Believing that the smallpox vaccine cures smallpox heals nobody, unless you take the vaccine and apply it to your own life. It heals nothing. Loved ones, I plead with you, don’t you see the great deception that runs through all of us here? We wouldn’t dream of thinking that way. In ordinary medical problems, we wouldn’t dream of it. You know you wouldn’t. You know fine well that believing that smallpox vaccine cures smallpox does not cures smallpox. Believing it does not cure, only taking the vaccine cures.Now it’s the same with this dear death here that we remember here on this communion table. This death of Jesus will cure carnality in you, not if you simply believe but if you believe in a scriptural sense — and the scriptural meaning of believe is “believe and submit to.” Now loved ones, you have as selfish a personality as I have. We’re all equally caught here this morning in the desire for our own pleasure and our own gratification and our own aggrandizements and our own advancement and our own glory. You cannot get free from that any easier than you could get free from smallpox. Loved ones, there is only one cure for it and that is the cure that God, our Creator, worked 1900 years ago in Jesus when He put all of us with our selfish personalities into His son and destroyed them there. That death can cure that carnality in you this morning, not if you believe but if you believe and submit to that death this morning.And so the reason we gather together today is not to keep urging each other to believe; there is too much easy believism in Christendom today. Believing never cured anybody but believing in the sense of the Greek word in the New Testament “pisteuo”, which means submit or obey, that cures carnality. So why we’ve gathered together is to receive this dear remedy into ourselves afresh this morning, and that’s why I have come to communion. But you’re mistaken if you think I’ve come to explain it to you. I’ve come to communion this morning because I want to receive this death of Jesus into myself in a new way that I know I need to receive it. There’s a new way in which I need to die to what I am expecting from other people or from the world. There’s a new way in which Jesus wants to show me what happened to me when I died with him on Calvary. Now loved ones, it’s true with all of you.Do you realize that you break hearts and I break hearts? We break hearts. Our loved ones and our friends and our relatives get used to us, but we break hearts. God is able to cure that in you this morning. He is able to give you a light about some way in which you’re still expecting too much from your dear roommate, some way in which you are expecting too much from your colleague at work, some way in which you are looking to them for the significance and the acceptance and the recognition and the security and the happiness that your God alone can give you. I ask you, brothers and sisters, to join with me this morning in receiving this dear vaccine of the death of Jesus into yourselves.There’s a verse in the Bible that expresses it. It says death is at work in us but life in you. That’s it. Every time you let Jesus’ death work in you in a new way, you begin to spread life to somebody that you meet week by week. Really, it’s true. So I ask you, will you deal with the Holy Spirit yourself? Ask Him, “in what way. Holy Spirit, is my Lord trying to draw me into His death on Calvary, so that I may experience His resurrection?” Loved ones, that will cure carnality, honestly it will. And it is a continual remedy that needs to be applied day-by-day and week-by-week.So loved ones, the Holy Spirit will presumably say to you that you keep expecting your husband or your wife to do this, will you die to that? Probably say to you if you live with your roommate, you keep getting resentful when your roommate doesn’t do this or doesn’t do that, will you die to that? And will you be prepared for a clean heart towards it, to have a pure heart towards him, no resentment? Will you die to your right to have him act reasonably and will you accept that it is your right to have him act unreasonably and yet you will still love him. The Holy Spirit will deal with you in ways like that and I ask you what I am going to do is say yes when He shows me what it is because I know the Holy Spirit will then bring the beauty of Jesus into my life that is new and that will spread life to the loved ones I meet this week.So loved ones, if you are ready to do that, if you are ready to submit your will and maybe this is your first time, you should take communion. I know a brother here who came to me through the week and this is his first communion and this is his first commitment to Jesus; that “Lord, I’ll no longer try to fix my own life but I am going to come under the influence of your Holy Spirit and allow You to fix it for me. I’ll respond by submitting my will to what you say” — and maybe if this is the first time for you then just do it. Don’t feel you have to go through some other ceremony, just do it this morning and deal with the spirit of Jesus as he talks to you during the communion service.Now if you are ready loved ones to do that, will you stand?You that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins and are in love and charity with your neighbors and intend to lead a new life following the commandments of God and walking from henceforth in His holy ways, draw near with faith and take this holy sacrament to your comfort and make your humble confession unto almighty God. Let us be seated as we pray.Lord Jesus, we know we’re pretty coarse people and we know Lord that there are all kinds of cracks that we’re trying to cover up. Lord we know that those seem to be cracks to us but to the loved ones that we work with during the week and live with during the days, they are ugly disease that spoils their lives continually. Lord, we want to be free and so we ask you by your Holy Spirit to show us in what way you are asking us to enter in more deeply to the dear miraculous cosmic death that we experienced in Jesus. I want to thank you Lord for getting us into yourself. We want to thank you Lord Jesus for bearing needlessly the pain that our carnal selves bring upon us. Lord we thank you for that. We know the least we can do this morning is to ask You to explain to us what particular part of the remedy You want us to receive this morning. Amen
Commit Your Way to God - CONSECRATION
Commit Your Way to the Lord – Altar CallPsalm 37Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillI just sensed loved ones that God didn’t want me to preach the sermon that I have prepared and so I will preach it next Sunday — and that I should ask you to take part with me in doing something this morning so that there would be an opportunity for everyone of you to do something, instead of just me speaking. So to that end, would you open the Bible at Psalm 37:5?It’s God’s word I believe to many of you here and certainly to me this morning. “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act.” I just thought that if you go into the car park this morning, or you walk up and down the sidewalks and you try to make out what kind of people we all are, I am sure if you looked at some of our cars and some of our clothes and some of the jokes maybe that we crack as we come up the stairs, we maybe all look at each other and almost think, “Oh, I just wish I was like them”, or “They seem to really have got it together. They seem to have it together financially and professionally and personally and every way.”I think it’s very easy in a body like ours where God has shown us that it is possible to live victoriously and joyously, for many of us to look at each other and think, “Well, I certainly wish I was like them”, and yet, do you know loved ones, that it doesn’t matter what clothes each one of us have here. It doesn’t matter what job we have. Actually, it doesn’t matter even how we appear to be on the outside on a Sunday morning but all of us here in this room have some burden or some burdens that God has allowed us to carry for our good and so, there probably is not one person sitting next to you at this moment who has not something that is lying heavier on their dear hearts than it’s God’s will for that to lie.I think many of us may be lying under the business of the final exams and that’s exactly what we are doing, we’re lying under it, we’re not on top of it. As brother prayed, we have not taken that attitude. We have not given it over to God, we’re carrying it. We’re carrying not only the burden of the study we have to do but we’re carrying the burden of the results of the examination and indeed you might say we’re worrying about it. And there are many of us here who, when we read that piece from Jesus’ words, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow”, we want to be that way but we are not that way and we are worrying about our job situation although we haven’t a job or the job we have is not going well.We are worried about some relationship that we’ve got tangled up in a mess and we’ve been trying to sort that out for a long time and we can’t do anything with it and it’s a burden not that we’re carrying joyously, not a burden that we’ve joyously handed over to the Father so that we can walk free, but it’s a burden that we’re bearing on our own shoulders, and we know we’re bearing it. We tend to be preoccupied with it.You know the easiest example of it is what we have all experienced – money. That’s the easiest thing. There isn’t one of us here that doesn’t know what it’s like to have a financial worry in your life and you know you try to push it away, but that thing grips you and grips you and wakens you up at night and worries you and makes you anxious and it’s something that possesses you it seems, instead of something that you possess or control, and that’s what I mean loved ones.You all, I bet, look at each other. We all look at each other and we think ‘Oh, I wish I was as free as that person is’, and loved ones, the key to being free is not to have no burdens, because there is not one of us, thank God there is not one of us in this room that has not been given something to carry. If we ever had nothing to carry, we would sink into passivity and we would lose all touch with God, and there is not one of us in this room that hasn’t been given something to carry except that we’ve been given it to hand over to the Lord and that’s the distinction. Some of us have handed it over to the Lord and have left it with Him and some of us worry and fret and are anxious and we give it over and then we take it back and we trust Him and then we stop trusting Him, and that’s what I want to speak to you about.Do you not think there are some burdens in your life? Maybe with some of us they’re just downright sins, maybe with some of us here the burden is we’ve never given ourselves to God at all, but whatever it is you know, whether it is a job situation or a marriage situation or a relationship or a financial worry or a business or a school crisis, whatever it is, do you not think you should take a stand this morning and commit it to the Lord? Do you not think you should stop just reading this word again and again and this morning you should do it? You should commit your way to the Lord. That’s what this verse says, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act”.Really, what came home to me was a number of you know you should do that, but you’ve never actually taken the step and you’ve, maybe during prior times here, just kind of half done it. Maybe if it’s the business of committing yourself to Jesus you know and trusting Him to regenerate you and make you a Christian. You have often half done it when I prayed at the ends of services but you’ve never really done it — or maybe some of you are here and you know it’s wrong to worry, it’s wrong to worry for one moment, it’s wrong in this beautiful world that the dear Father has given us to spend a moment in anxiety. It’s wrong to spoil a moment in a cloud across the horizon and yet, you’ve often tried to give it and to pray about it and you have never really committed it to the Lord.Now what I am asking you to do this morning is, will you take part together with me in committing whatever it is in your life that is a burden and is preoccupying you and is making you tight and tense? Will you commit it to the Lord this morning? I am going to explain a very definite way to do it, really.Now I point out to you that there are dear brothers here who are attorneys and if I go to some of the other brothers here who are in the legal profession and I say to them I have a problem and I explained it all to them and I committed to them, then they expect me to keep my hands off it. They will soon tell me where to go over if I keep coming in and trying to advise them what to do with it. They will say “No, this is our case, you committed it to us, you’re trusting us with it, you leave it in our hands, you keep your hands off it.” That’s what it means loved ones to commit your way to the Lord. Whatever it is that is niggling away or causing you unrest and anxiety in your life at this moment.I am going to ask John to play a little and during the 10 or 15 minutes that are left to us of his service, I’m going to have an altar call. We’re not very churchey here, so this stage is as near to an altar as we’ll get here. And I am asking you to come up to just kneel, that’s what I am going to do with something that I have to give to Him. Just kneel and commit it to Him. Now, I’ll tell you how to commit it to Him.Commit your way to the Lord. That means let Him control whatever it is that you’re committing to Him. So if you’re concerned about marriage, all that about the marriage that you have that is notright or the marriage that you would like to enter into, then take your hands off that, you see, commit your way to the Lord. That’s the way to do it. Stop trying to control it yourself. The same if you have never committed yourself to God as His child. It means coming up here and saying “Lord I take my hands off my life. You run it whatever way You want”.Same with finances, if it’s a financial situation, you come up and you say “Lord, I am taking my hands off my finances. Lord if You want me to be absolutely bereft of money, if You want to take it all, if You want me to fail or succeed-whatever — I now exercise my will”, and loved ones that’s it. The symbolism of coming up here does nothing. Only if while you are kneeling here you get that out of the control of your will and you say, “Lord, these final exams, I take my hands off them. Lord, whatever You want to do with them, that’s up to You and I let them go out of my control now and I commit them to You.” That’s the first step in committing.The second step is when you get up from your knees and walk back to your place. Leave those things here. Leave them here, leave them on this kind of a stage, this altar here, leave them with God. Now if you say, “How do I do that?” I’ll tell you. It’s a very simple thing. Tomorrow or today on the way home in the car or bus, when the thought comes into your mind, “What about this bank account”, “What I am going to do about this exam”, at that moment take your eyes off the thing because that’s just Satan’s temptation to get your mind wound up in it again. Take your eyes off the thing, turn them up to God and say, “Lord I thank You that You are controlling this thing and that it is in Your hands and I thank You for the way You are controlling it.” That’s the way to leave it with God, loved ones.For next Wednesday, when the whole thing comes up before your very eyes and you see the results or you see what’s happening to the office situation, you see it’s as bad as ever it was, at that moment, instead of allowing your little old mind to get wrapped up in the thing again which is just Satan’s trick, so that you become absolutely paralyzed and unable to do anything about it, instead of that, look away from the situation up to God and say, “Lord, I thank You that I left that with You in Campus Church last Sunday and I thank You for the way You are controlling it”, and thank the Lord and praise God and as you begin to thank Him and praise Him in all circumstances for all things, He begins to realize this person is leaving the judging to Me. This person is beginning to accept what I give to them as success and not want what they think of success, and God begins to see that you’re letting Him be God and then He begins to be able to act in the situation.Loved ones, that’s what it means, those two steps, committing your way to the Lord means at a definite point of time and that’s why I am suggesting this, this morning, even though it’s so unlike us to do this kind of thin. I am suggesting that you come up here during these next 10 to 15 minutes and you take your hands off the thing. None of those easy prayers: “you know Lord I give this to You, You take it from me, I can’t release it.” No. You let it go and some of you need to see that any tension in your life comes from a closed fist, that’s where the tension comes from.The knuckles get white because of the tension and the moment you open your hand, the tension goes and some of you will find that you’ve some things in jars, glass jars with narrow necks and during these next 10 minutes you will be burrowing in there and you’ll get the hand in and then you’ll find you can’t get the hands out and there’s only one reason why you can’t get the hand out if you got it in and that’s because you’re holding something in it and you won’t let go of it. The moment you let go off it, all the tension goes from your life and you’re able to commit it to God.So the first step is to come up here and give it to God’s control. Say, “Lord, I take my hands offthis. I no longer want to control it my way. I give it to You. You be God.” That’s all we’re saying. That’s a small thing. “You be God in this part of my life. You have Your way Lord, have Your own way Lord.” That’s all you are saying and exercise your will to let go the control of this thing and let God run it whatever way He wants and then when you get up from your knees, leave it here and say, “Lord, I thank You for the way You are controlling this”, and each time that subject comes up through the rest of your life, look away from the subject to God and say, “Lord I thank You for the way You are controlling this.”Loved ones, that’s what is involved in committing your way to the Lord and that’s why some of us can work joyously, not because we have no burdens, but because we have handed them over to the Father. We have let Him take over control and we thank Him daily for the way He is controlling them. So loved ones, I would just ask some of you, you know as husbands and wives who want to come up together, some of you will want to come up singly and individually and I just say do it.The Father is here and if you let the thing go to Him, He will more than bless you and more than release you. But the beauty of it is, of course, you’re not giving it to Him so that He’ll succeed in the way you want Him to succeed, you’ll let Him do whatever He wants to do with it and take your own hands off.Okay, just come, I wouldn’t wait for others, I’d just come. I think it’s really good that we’re natural about it and so that people will feel free to go who want to leave. I think just let’s continue praying and those of you who’re waiting just wait and we’ll pray, and those of us who’re sitting, maybe you would just turn to song number 34 and while the rest of us are seeking God, then we’ll sing and I’ll just pronounce the benediction and then those who want to leave, can leave and then the rest of us can remain and I would urge you to remain and deal with God. Let’s just remain sitting loved ones, as we sing and those of us who are praying just continue praying and getting these things into God’s hands, that’s what He wants.Lord Jesus, we know that You are taking from us burdens, now that we are letting go of them once and for all. Lord we would pray for the loved ones who are now doing that. Lord Jesus we thank You that we’re putting them into the hands of Him by whom all things were made. Oh Lord we thank You that these are strong and mighty and powerful hands and that they will not drop what we have committed on to them but we are persuaded that You will keep what we have committed unto you this day and Lord we thank You for that. Lord Jesus we thank You for that and so far as we let go of these things so You are able to take them over and oh Lord we thank You for the joy with which we will be able to walk these coming days.Each time the thought occurs, Lord we will be able to look up to You and thank You for the way You’re controlling this thing which now is no longer ours. Lord we thank You for that. Lord I pray now that as John continues to play on the organ and as others of us go home, Lord Jesus I pray that You now will continue to take from us the things that we have to give you. Lord I pray for the loved ones who are standing here that they will have a real freedom just to stand and wait until they can put these things on the altar so that they will deal with You and complete their business with You this day, so that they can walk out of here free.Now Lord Jesus I pray that the grace and the love of your dear Father, our God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit will be with each one of us now and until we see You face-to-face. Amen.
Uncreated Life - CONSECRATION
Uncreated LifeJohn 20:24Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillI think it’s good especially on a day like today when we’re all so happy and laughing, to talk realistically about death. So, maybe you would just think for a moment or a two of deaths that you have known and I could remember my dad’s death. It was about 17 years ago and he died on the 17th of March, it was St. Patrick’s Day in Belfast and he died in the morning and I remember being with him. And I was probably like all of you. I just couldn’t conceive of life without my father and you know the way you feel that. You feel that it’s unbearable. I couldn’t even think of it, life without my dad. Yet it’s amazing, isn’t it, that the mind is incapable of conceiving the magnitude of the last beat of a loved one’s heart. Isn’t that right?I mean the last beat occurs and the mind can’t conceive of it and that inability to conceive of it, kind of, is God’s good gift to us because it kind of dulls the pain and I remember seeing him just brave, you know and then I thought, “Well, he has just died,” and then I asked the nurse to come in because I thought my dad had died and would she make sure that he was dead. Then you know over the next few days, the continued closeness that you feel to the loved one. You feel that they’re kind of just around you, that they’re still around you in the rooms. That’s so good of God to give us that feeling.Then especially after the burial, you know how you just feel, that’s it. There’s a separation between anyone who passes through death and this present world, there’s just a separation. They’re separated from us and probably all of you, even maybe the youngest, can think of some experience that you’ve had like that. You know too that we human beings have been trying to crack the finality of that experience in all kinds of ways.You know that all of our attempts seem to end up as kind of cheap frauds or just inappropriate fakery of some kind and we have made many attempts. The mediums, and the spiritualists have claimed to be able to communicate with our loved ones who have passed beyond, and yet don’t you agree that if you’ve ever heard or read any of their communications, they always seem to have that static, lifeless quality of evil spirits that are imitating our relatives, rather than the bright vitality of expressions of living people.I don’t know if you got involved in it but I think most of us at some time wondered, “Could they communicate? Could they communicate?” And yet you feel at the end of the day, that all they’re doing is communicating with evil spirits who are imitating some of the words and some of the attitudes of our dead relations — and of course that’s why God condemned mediums and witches and all that kind of attempt to communicate with the dead, as rebellion. He said it was as the sin of rebellion and that’s why you remember the witch at Endor was struck with fear when God made Samuel materialize in reality instead of the evil spirit that she expected to call up to imitate him — and she was absolutely astonished.God really has indicated to us that that whole world of spiritualism is evil and is not inside his will, and if you have had any experience of it at all, you’ve probably felt as I have had that it is evil and that it destroys the dignity of your loved one and destroys the dignity of life, destroysthe dignity even of death. And of course our television programs recently and our books have been filled with those dear ones who have lived in that twilight zone between biological death and technical death. They have lived in the twilight zone where their heart has stopped beating and their mind’s pulses have continued.So technically we’ve said they were dead and yet they were able to be revived and you know that they have written or they had their experiences recorded in books and we’ve had television programs about those things and yet, I don’t know how you feel, but I always feel, “Well, yeah, but I don’t really feel they died — whatever the technical definition is or whatever the emotional experience was that they had. I don’t really feel that they died, that they passed beyond and they experienced what life after death is like and that what they’re telling us is what it’s really like. I feel, look, their bodies were still warm. They were still just on this side of death and I myself don’t feel I can trust that what they’ve talked about is anything more than their own ideas or their own feelings of what life after death might be.”Of course, it’s for that same reason that most of us I think are skeptical of the gurus and the yogis who can control their breath so precisely that they are able to be buried for days at times and apparently come back to life. I think most of us feel, “Look, they’re not dead at all. They have just controlled their breaths so that they appear to be dead and they appear to be able to stay buried longer than any of the rest of us.”But I think most of us feel, “Well, they never died. It’s all a hoax,” and of course it’s that sheer difficulty of faking death and resurrection that has probably prevented the followers of other religious leaders like Muhammad and Buddha, ever claiming that their great leader had been raised from the dead, because it is a very difficult fact to prove. It’s a very difficult fact to hold up in court that a person has died and has risen from the dead.Loved ones, do you see that all those examples make the one great exception so much more striking, because there was a religious leader who was different from all the other religious leaders. His life is perfect. Theirs was not. His miracles were greater than theirs, his teaching transcends theirs. But the one great fact that distinguishes him from them is the one event, the proclamation of which brought persecution to his followers — and that was the resurrection from the dead. This great religious leader was raised on the third day, stayed alive for 40 days and then his body lifted off the earth and it has never been found since and that is what distinguishes him from everyone else — that resurrection from the dead.Loved ones, that is why we’re meeting together here — because such an event as that took place. Many of us see of course that if it did in fact take place, if in fact Jesus did rise from the dead, then it means that he is alive now and it means that if he is alive now, he is the one important person in the whole universe for you and I to contact if we possibly can contact him and if He will bother with us at all, but really that’s the crux of the whole issue, isn’t it? Is this Jesus really alive? Did He actually rise from the dead?There are four rules that philosophers and historians have accepted down through the years for determining a matter of fact, and they not only appeal to historians and the philosophers, they’ll appeal to your own common sense and my common sense this morning. And a man called Leslie summarized those rules and he said for instance the first one is, “In order to determine a matter of fact of any kind and to find out if it really happened, the matter of fact must be such that men’s outward senses, their eyes and ears, may be judges of it”, and you can see that.If a thing is a matter of fact, either in history or today, it must be such that man’s outward senses, their eyes and their ears may be the judges of it. Now, if that had not been the case, big honest fisherman like Peter and cynical skeptics like Thomas would never have believed that this man rose from the dead. It was only because He appeared to their outward senses, to their eyes and their ears. You can see it yourself if you look at John Chapter 20.John 20:24: “Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.’“Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless but believing.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”The men and women who gave us the first record of Jesus rising from the dead were actual eyewitnesses. They ate with him, they slept with him, they talked with him, they traveled with him both before and after his death. They knew him. Their eyes and their ears had perceived him. He was a fact that was present to their outward senses. Now you may say, “Yeah, but can you trust them? Are they the kind of people who can be trusted to tell you what they actually saw?”You know that again and again we have tried to impugn their trust and we have tried to suggest that maybe there are other explanations, but it never really works and probably the most popular today, with our preoccupation with psychology, is hallucinations. Maybe these men, maybe they were honest, good, down to earth fishermen, maybe they were ordinary people like us — but do you not think they could have had hallucinations and that the 12 or 14 so-called appearances of Jesus during those 40 days could in fact be hallucinations?And what makes that difficult to believe is that the appearances to the disciples and the friends do not fit the laws that govern hallucinations. Hallucinations, for instance, occur to certain kinds of people and those are people with vivid imaginations who perhaps have a nervous kind of makeup to their character and when you look at big, honest, bluff Peter the fisherman and you look at hard headed James and you look at cynical, skeptical Thomas, you must admit that those were not the kinds of people who were likely to have hallucinations.Another law that governs hallucinations is that the person wants something to happen. They want something to happen. They want this event to take place and so they project that into their imaginations and then they blur the distinction between their imaginative life and reality and they have a hallucination.But why did Mary go to the tomb with spices to anoint the dead body if she actually hoped that he would be alive? You remember she went and told the disciples that he was alive and they wouldn’tbelieve it. They said, “No, we don’t believe it. You’re just imagining it,” so that when Jesus actually appeared to them, they said, “He’s a ghost” and Jesus had to say to them, “Look, a ghost hasn’t flesh and bones as you see that I have. Come, let’s have fish for supper. Let’s eat together and you’ll see that I am not a ghost.” Now those were not men and women who were expecting Jesus to appear. Those were men and women that had given up any hope that this man was anything more than a man.Hallucinations are things that have to appear over a long, long period of time and keep on appearing for years. These appearances of Jesus took place during 40 days and then they stopped and that was it. Some of us say, “Well, yes, maybe not hallucinations, but do you not think that the disciples themselves had an interest in getting us all to believe that Jesus had arisen from the dead? Do you not think that they would become very important religious leaders of this new sect if they could persuade others that their Master was someone who was different from every other religious leader?”“Do you not think that they could have been con artists who were out to make up for the disappointment that they found when they discovered their Master had died instead of leading them into a military victory? Do you not think they could have stolen the body and then could simply have pretended that he was alive?You know the difficulty: why didn’t they stop the lie when they saw the first child being slaughtered? Why didn’t they stop the lie? Why didn’t they stop telling the lie when the first family was imprisoned? Why didn’t they stop telling the lie when they themselves began to be slaughtered by their thousands — when they saw their friends used as torches at the garden parties of the Roman Emperor? Why didn’t they stop the lie?And you know that men and women will not die for what they know as a lie, they will not. When they see that it’s gone that far they’ll stop and they’ll say, “Listen, listen, we just want to pass on his teaching but we don’t want to pass on that lie that is bringing upon us all this persecution.” So really it’s hard to explain in any other way but that the resurrection meets that first rule — that it was an event that presented itself to the outward senses of the men and women in that age. It presented it to their eyes and their ears, not to their hearts or their emotions or their hallucinations.Leslie has another rule. He says that the fact should be done publicly in the face of the world. That is, that it shouldn’t be done in a corner, shouldn’t be some little guru somewhere telling some of his friends that he was actually dead for three days and now has is alive, but it is something that is done publicly in the face of the whole world. That was the very complaint of the Roman authorities loved ones, if you’d like to look at it, it’s Acts 17:6.Acts 17:6, “And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brethren before the city authorities, crying, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” And that was the problem for the Roman authorities. If these people had kept this thing quiet, they might have been able to cover it up — but these people were turning the then known world upside down.It isn’t only writers in the Bible here that write about them, you can study Roman governors like Pliny and you can study their letters to the emperor asking, “What am I going to do with these Christians? Here is what I do, and if they confess then I let them free and if they don’t, I kill them. Now what do you think I should do?”Celsus and Porphyry wrote continually about this Christian group, and there’s a Tertullian who kept the archives in Rome, and here’s the way he writes about it, “Tiberius accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made it’s entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from Palestine of events which had clearly shown the truth of Christ’s divinity, brought the matter before the senate, (that’s the emperor) with his own decision in favor of Christ. The senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected his proposal. Caesar held to his opinion, threatening wrath against all the accusers of the Christians.” The thing wasn’t done in a corner. This matter of fact was known throughout the world. It was not something that was done in secret.Leslie is interesting because he then goes on to the difficulty of preserving correctly the memory of an event and he says the third rule for establishing particularly a historical fact as a fact is that not only public monuments be kept up in memory of it but some outward actions be performed. Not only that some public monuments be kept up in memory of it but that some outward actions be performed, and that’s the guarantee you see that the event will be remembered as it actually took place and that that memory will be accurately passed down from generation to generation without any exaggeration or without any distortion and that’s why he says, the only way to be sure of a historical fact is that public monuments be kept up in memory of it.That is, monuments that are obvious to everybody and that certain actions be performed. Maybe the most obvious monuments — because monuments are not necessarily statues — they’re just things that make it clear what actually happened and remember it — maybe the clearest monuments are the manuscripts that hold the written record of that event, and of course that’s what you look to when you study any ancient history.If you look at Caesar’s “History of the Gallic Wars”, you immediately ask yourself, “Well, how do we know that this even was remembered as it actually occurred and how do we know that over this passed down through the years reliably without distortion? What you do is you go behind the manuscripts. You try to get to Caesar’s original manuscript and you find out where he wrote the history, because it was written at the time the event took place so you try to find the original record of it. Then you find the next record maybe a hundred years later, check that up to see if they confirm each other or if somebody changed them. Then you check the other manuscript.Caesar’s “History of the Gallic Wars” has a grand total of 9 or at the most 10 manuscripts, that’s all. We believe ancient history on the basis of 9 or 10 manuscripts and never question it. Those are all the monuments you have to Caesar’s “Gallic Wars”. Do you know when the first one was written? It was written 900 years after Caesar wrote his original history. 900 years! 900 years elapsed during which all kinds of myth and legend could have developed, yet we never question Caesar’s “History of the Gallic Wars” as being true.We say no these are public monuments. These are literary manuscripts that give us the original record. We can check them against each other and they are more or less the same so we believe it. It’s even worse with Livy’s history. His history has two manuscripts and the oldest one is a thousand years after he wrote his original history. The monuments and the manuscripts behind this book, the Bible: 4000 Greek manuscripts. And the oldest one is written 30 years after John completed his fourth Gospel.In other words, there is no manuscript evidence for any history as reliable as the manuscript evidence for this history. There is not. You cannot find it. If you throw out this book asunhistorical, you throw out not only all the ancient Roman and Greek authors, but you throw out half of our own history because there is no manuscript evidence for any history up to maybe three or four hundred years ago that is as solid as what lies behind this. These manuscripts have been found throughout the ancient world and we have 4000 of them, plus thousands of scraps of manuscripts.Then the actions that need to be performed: here it is today. Here it is today. This action has been performed for 1900 years. Ever from Peter’s little Jewish son asked him, “Dad, why do we worship on Sunday when all our friends in the Jewish church worship on Saturday?” and Peter answered, “My son, because our Savior rose on this day of the week”, — and loved ones ever from that first Easter Sunday, there has not passed one Sunday but there has not passed one day in the world’s life, when a group of people have not got together and celebrated the communion of the Lord’s Supper. That action has been performed down through the years for 1900 years.Now, you see the importance of that. We human beings are pretty dumb people but we will not keep on doing something like that again and again and again without some horrid little cynical son sometime persuading us this is a ridiculous game we’re playing, there’s no reason for it. There’ll always be somebody to say, “Dad, why are we doing this?” and unless Dad really can show that there’s a reason, the thing will die out, that’s what happens in our society. Things die out when there’s no sufficient reason for them or no sufficient basis.Then Leslie adds one other fourth rule. He says that “such monuments and such actions and such observances be instituted and do commence from the time that the matter of fact was done.” You see the importance of that. That the monuments and observances and actions be performed from the very moment that the original act fact took place. The reason for that is so that there’ll be no time gap during which legend and myth could develop and that’s the difficulty you see with the lives of Muhammad and Buddha. It’s years afterwards that we wrote of their lives — and myths and legends of all kinds surrounded them. But if you have no time gap between the original fact and the first record of it and if that record is the same as all the other records that you have down through the centuries, then you can be sure that that fact actually took place as it was written about.Of course, that’s the situation with this Book, the Bible. The letter to the Galatians was written in 48 A.D. In 48 A.D. there were thousands of people alive who had seen Jesus die, there were thousands who had observed him and seen him alive. All they had to do was, as this letter to the Galatians was circulating round all the churches in the world at that time, they simply had to say, “No, it didn’t occur this way.” There were many eyewitnesses alive at the time that these records were circulating and all they had to do was contradict them and that would have been the tale finished.It’s the same loved ones with the actions that are to be performed. If you like to look at it, it’s there, it’s Acts 20:7: “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight.”“On the first day of the week, we gathered together.” That was five, six years after Jesus rose from the dead. Right from the earliest times, Easter has been observed, the communion of the Lord’s supper has been observed.In other words, the most amazing thing about this fact of Jesus destroying death is that this incident, that stands so unique in the lifetime of the world, this one event in which a human beingso absolutely demonstrated control over death and life — that this incidence has been studied and discussed and criticized and examined more than any other event in history and has now come out among all scholars and philosophers and historians as the most established and the surest fact of our history.There’s an old brilliant scholar at Cambridge – an old cynic too — but he says this about the resurrection, “Taking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ.” If you say that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is not a fact, let’s throw everything away. There are no facts then. There are no facts anywhere in the world. Because if you say that is not a fact, there are millions of facts that are far less surely established than that one, and this life that we live is not real at all if you say that that resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not a fact.Do you see the conclusions? If Jesus destroyed death once, then he can destroy it however often he wants and that means he is alive today — and he is alive and can see us all here. See, you have to conclude that, don’t you? You must admit that if he is able to pass through death and if death does not keep him away from us, then he must be here in this room this morning. He must be here, right here. And do you see that that means there is an elixir of life. It means there is a fountain of rejuvenation and of eternal youth such as all the old explorers searched for.There is an uncreated life that turns death into sleep, because that’s what it did in him. There is an uncreated life that comes into this created life we have and changes it completely. There is an uncreated life that can change you and can enable you to exist forever. But loved ones, what we find is that that same life is able to change the bitterness in your heart into love because that life is the Spirit of Jesus and that life can change you completely and it can change you from being a miserable, petty, selfish creature into a person that is the image of Christ and that’s what uncreated life did in Jesus. It’s what uncreated life did in me and it’s what uncreated life has done in hundreds here in this room and it’s what uncreated life can do for you.You have created life, and you can see it there, but there is an uncreated life that can turn death into sleep. If you say, “how?” all you do is be willing for that life to come in. You have to be willing for that life of Jesus’ Spirit to come in and reproduce in you himself, and you may think that’s easy but that is the hard part. And the reason you don’t experience that life, the reason you’re still bitter at times, the reason you’re still angry at times and selfish is you won’t let that life come in and control you and that’s the same reason that will force you to go out into lonely darkness at the end of this life.And loved ones it is a package. It’s either Jesus and the beauty of love and the kindliness of his spirit ruling your life now and that continuing forever — or it’s you continuing as you are with that created life that you’ve got with your selfishness and your pettiness and at times your misery and it’s that going on forever after this life is over.So Easter is not a day for spectators. Easter is not a day for applause. Easter is not a day to stand outside the tomb and look at the mighty thing that happened. Easter is the day to go into the tomb yourself and ask this Jesus, “Lord, if you are alive now, and it seems I am led by my own logic to believe that, will you begin to show me how to let your life come into mine — because I sorely need a change.” Let us pray.Lord, that is what we would pray. Death is something that is so real that we have no troubleimagining it, Lord, and we have trouble with imagining what we mean by anger or jealousy or envy, but we know what we mean by death and we know as sure as anything that we’re going to meet that, that’s the one thing we’re sure of, Lord. We’re going to meet death. And Lord, you seem to have a way through and Lord Jesus, we want to find that way ourselves. We feel we’re made for something more than just a gravestone. We feel we’re made for something more than just to be forgotten.Lord, we ask you now to show us why your Spirit that enabled you to rise from the dead has not been able to come into us. Show us what we have to be willing to do for your spirit to come in and change us, and Lord we want to do that. Lord, I pray for our brothers and sisters here that they, in spite of all the excitement of the lunch time and the lilies and all the brightness of the day, pray that you’ll give them grace to settle down somewhere in their room today for 15 minutes and pray to you and ask you to begin to change them and to give them the Spirit that will enable them to live forever. I ask this in your name and for your glory. Amen.
How to Walk in the Light - CONSECRATION
How to Walk in the Light1 John 1 & 2Sermons Transcript by Rev. by Ernest O’NeillI John 1:5 – 2:6: “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He who says,’I know him’ but disobeys his commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him: but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”I remember the first time I was in the company of people I thought were holy people or were Christ-like people. I felt very uneasy. I remember the first thing I was aware of myself, was my own dirtiness and my own coarseness and of course it made me take a lot more care with what I said. In a way I wasn’t really free because I was aware of how Christ-like and how gentle and how pure they were in their hearts, and I was very aware that I was not at that time like them. That’s the way it will be in heaven. I was sitting down there with my wife and I looked at the stage and it is interesting, this stage has a lot more light, hasn’t it, about it than when you are out there. This is bright, illumination. It will be like that. It will be like us all coming into bright, bright light where nothing can be hidden and where every blemish shows up. It won’t ever be a case of God rejecting us; it will simply be that we cannot bear the light. It will be the same as I was with those dear people that I met. It will just be so uncomfortable that we won’t feel at home there unless we have allowed God’s Spirit to fit us for that place.Loved ones, that’s why tonight is such a dear feast for all of us who believe that in Jesus, God included all of our uncleanness, all of our dirtiness, all of our coarseness. This is a feast for us tonight because we realize again that there is nothing in us that is bad, nothing in us that is sinful, nothing in us that is coarse that God has not destroyed in His Son Jesus, and that we can now be freed tonight by the power of His Holy Spirit. That’s why tonight is a celebration for those of us who are children of God. We believe that here is the secret to all of life, the death of our Lord Jesus. We believe with all our hearts the words of scripture, “God made Him to be sin who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”There is no one here with a resentment in their hearts that they cannot get rid of. There is no one here with a bitterness at the bottom of their hearts that they cannot get rid of. There is no one here with a mind filled with unclean thoughts that they cannot get rid of. They can put all of those in Jesus by faith tonight and say, “Lord, I believe you allowed these to be destroyed with you on Calvary and I want now to let these go. Will you show me tonight what I have to be willing for, inmy identification with you, to be freed from this sin?” The Holy Spirit, if you take that attitude, will answer you, and He will show you if it is resentment, or sarcasm, or if it is bitterness, or it is a critical spirit, or it is uncleanness, or selfish ambition, or the drive to be the most important person in the situation. Whatever it is, loved ones, the Holy Spirit will speak to you this evening and will say to you, “I want you to be willing to be treated like Jesus in this way,” or “I want you to be willing to be identified with Jesus in this way” or “I want you to be quiet with Jesus in this way.” He will explain it to you. Then all you have to do, and I know it from my experience, all you have to do is say yes from the bottom of your heart, and there will come a clean Spirit into you this evening: the gift of the Holy Spirit.What we will find is the blessing in these evening communions is if God has given you light during this past month, that is why I read those verses. The verses say if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, first of all. Then secondly, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. Walking in the light means a readiness to call sin, sin. If God has shown you something that’s wrong in your life, call it sin. Then walking in the light means a readiness to walk into obedience in regard to that area of your life and a readiness to have the Holy Spirit melt you and mold you into Jesus on the cross in whatever way is necessary. So what God has used is when some of us have felt free just to come up to this open microphone — we will leave it just like that for the next 10 or 15 minutes– and simply to share any light that the Holy Spirit has given you about your own walk and about your own life.If I could encourage you, I think that it will be two kinds of light. I think with some of us it will be new light on a willful, rebellious attitude that we have had on something that we have been hiding in our hearts, a bitterness towards some person, or a resentment towards some person, or a critical attitude towards some person. That is, it will be an expression of our selfish will and something that is keeping us from being crucified with Christ. Loved ones, if the Holy Spirit allows you to do it, I would just share that and say, “I am done with that,” and I would encourage you not to tolerate that kind of sin at all. I would share my own experience that God has taught me to be like a watchman with a telescope, and if I see anything that even looks like sin approaching my life, I fly from it. I get it out before Him. I confess it, I declare it publicly and get rid of it. If it is a selfish, willful thing like that, don’t hesitate for a moment.Then there is another kind of light. Many of us have been crucified with Christ and have no more trouble with “the good that I would I cannot do and the evil that I hate is the very thing I do.” We have no trouble with that, but the Holy Spirit still leads us into new light in our lives, and that’s precious light to share, because God can use it to light something up in some of our own hearts, those of us who are listening.So I would encourage you above all not to hide anything and not to feel you are being particularly humble by sharing it. All we are doing is responding to God’s light, and the more we do that, the more light will be shed abroad here in this room. So loved ones, we will just leave the microphone open and really, just as the Holy Spirit guides you, certainly not apart from that, but just as He guides you, I would encourage you just to share briefly if you would, because that enables more of us to speak.
Forsaking Every Sin - CONSECRATION
Forsaking SinJames 4:17Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillIf you arrived this morning early and saw the sunshine on the water and heard the birds and saw the new leaves, you know how clean, in many ways, nature that is untouched by us men and women can appear, and I am sure you must have felt some of that simple, clean joy that we really remember as children before life got complicated.You know how beautiful it is just to be able to remember that — and at times don’t you find yourself trying to get into it. You try to just jump up a little and get into that kind of life that you knew when you were little and when you just had a dear Dad and Mom who took care of everything for you — and that is the kind of joy that many of us want with all our hearts. And all I want to share in about three minutes is that, that’s what everybody is trying to get. Do you see that?Everybody is trying to get that. Most of us conventional people think we’ll get it with the right wife or the right husband and the right family and the right home and the right car and the right vacations. Most of us feel if we can only get to that, we’ll get again that joy, that magnificent joy that birds seem to have and that nature seems to have. And you know what happens: we lose our original destination on the way to it. That’s what happens.You look around, you see us all burdened with our mortgages and burdened with what’s going around with the car and mileage, our child isn’t developing the way we thought it should and even those of us who seem to have it virtually together in regard to those possessions, even we seem to have lost some of the freedom. We do not have spontaneous joy; it seems to be a kind of dead happiness. It’s the freedom from pain but it doesn’t seem to be a joy and a delight in life and it doesn’t seem to be a freedom from burdens really.We’ve just exchanged some burdens for other burdens and I think you all know that’s what everybody is trying for with more alcohol than really you can control, that’s what we’re trying for. We’re trying for freedom from worry, freedom from anxiety — get the old Zeppelin, cut the strings and break loose from the world, get up above it somehow, that’s what we’re trying for. You know it’s not difficult to see that’s what we’re trying for in the drugs, we’re trying to just blast ourselves off the launching pad and somehow get up there. Isn’t it strange that most of us here in this room do know what I am talking about? Most of us here sense we were made for something like that.We sense on the spring morning, “Boy, it’s so clean and beautiful and that’s what I am made for but oh, inside I don’t seem like that, I don’t feel like that”, and we want to be like that. So it goes on and that’s why we try the occult and we try the imitations of it, that’s why we try Buddhism. We’ve got to eliminate suffering, eliminate feeling, eliminate the self somehow — we spring into this and so everybody is trying to get it.Of course the key is that the spirit of those little birds this morning and the spirit of the branches and the trees, the spirit that is behind them is the spirit of the dear person who made them and it’s by Him that all those things were made and without Him was not anything made that was made. It is His Spirit that gives life to all those things. That’s why when a Manson family tried to get out into the world of nature and get from nature itself the joy that seems to be in nature, theyend up in a hell of their own making — a hell of murder and of drugs and of sex, because the joy is not in the nature itself. The joy is in the hand that made the nature and that person lived in the first century of our era and it’s His death that we’re thinking of now. Most of all, we know that He rose from the dead and that every morning is a spring morning for Him and that He is able to impart that Spirit to us, and that’s why we’re here this morning.You can have that Spirit in your life. You can have that free joy in your own life, you can, right from the bottom right up to the top, you can live like that inside, you can loved ones, you can. Those of you who have heard all the people at times saying “Ah, that’s all right for kids, I am an ancient 44” — you can have it despite the mortgages and despite the responsibilities. You can live free, you can. I live free, you can live free. Jesus, who made all the spring mornings can give that Spirit of His to you, He can. You can receive that Spirit this morning and all I want to say is one thing killed Jesus — one thing killed Him. People who lived independent of God, people who sinned, they killed Him. They didn’t care about God, they didn’t care about Him, they killed Him.I just want to remind you, I don’t want to even look it up but I’ll tell you it is James 4:17. “Whosoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it for Him it is sin.” That’s the only thing that will keep Jesus’ Spirit from coming into your life this morning, that’s right, honestly. That’s the only thing that will keep Jesus’ Spirit from coming into your life this morning. Something that you know is wrong for you — doesn’t matter about all the other people — but it is wrong for you and you keep on doing it. That will keep Jesus’ Spirit out of your life and you will see that what all the other things are trying to do is get Jesus’ Spirit without getting rid of sin.That’s why the drugs really are wrong. That’s really why the alcohol is wrong, that’s really why the occult is wrong, and that’s really why Buddhism is wrong. It’s because they’re trying to get that exhilaration and that freedom from our self and that joy in life without getting rid of the sin or the independence of their maker. So I just say to each one of you this morning, anybody can take communion this morning and anybody can have communion with Jesus’ Spirit who made the birds if you will, with your own will and your conscience, have done with the things that you know are wrong in your life.Stop today, just commit yourself. “I will stop it now, Lord.” Whether you feel it or not is not important, but the free spirit of Jesus who made the world will come into your life. That’s true. And you’ll begin to respond spontaneously to Him until you’re freer and cleaner than a spring morning — and that is some freedom and some cleanness — but until you’re freer and cleaner inside than a spring morning. And that’s what we’re doing, loved ones, this morning.So, that’s what I’ll be doing and I would ask each one of you what sin is — I don’t know it. If for some of you, you drink, you drink until you lose self-control, that’s sin, you should stop that now, stop it now. I don’t want to get into arguments of whether you drink at all or not, but certainly if you drink to the point where you’re out of self-control or at the point where you are substituting that false joy or false bluff freedom for this real freedom that God can give you, you’re wrong, stop it. You don’t need long philosophical arguments about it, it’s just wrong to substitute superficial joy for the joy that God can give you.Same with the sex thing. If some of you are being promiscuous — that means that you’re going to bed with somebody that you are not married to — if you are doing that kind of thing or if some of us are engaging in dreams and in erotic fantasies to get again the exhilaration that only God can give us then that’s wrong, you know it’s wrong, you are not dumb — you know that’s wrong. Stop it.Anybody who knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. And then the rest of us, you know all of us are noble sinners, all are sophisticated sinners that just make a little critical comment about the poor soul in the office and just that destroys the reputation, all that stuff.You know it’s wrong, stop it. Those of us who are involved in habits over a long period of time, stop it, otherwise you will eat and drink damnation unto your own soul, that’s right, you will. You will take this bread and wine and it’ll just be damnation to you. It will almost stick in your throat. You just won’t have any sense of cleanness, you will have no sense of life, you’ll just have a sense you’ve gone through a ritual. So be real this morning. I intend to be real in my response to this and I would ask you to be real. Are there any questions, loved ones? Anybody not sure what is needed? Really just be real about these sins in your life, have done with it.If you are sitting there and you are saying, “Well, there are some things I am not sure are wrong and I would like to ask you but I don’t want to ask out here”, if you’re doubting, then cut it out, if you’re doubtful about it, cut it off. It’s probable that God’s Spirit is trying to get through to you and you’re still not letting Him speak. Okay.All right if you are willing — that means the willingness to do that — then will you stand together?You that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbors, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in His holy ways, draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort, and make your humble confession unto Almighty God.Let us be seated as we pray.We do not presume to come to this, Thy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in Thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so by faith to receive thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, that the bread which we break may be unto us the communion of His Body, and a cup of blessing which we bless, may be the communion of His blood, and that we may evermore dwell in Him and He in us.The Lord Jesus, in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread and broke it and said, “This is my body which is broken for you, this do in remembrance of Me.” In like manner He took the cup after supper saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat the bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He come. Amen.
The Love we were Meant to Know - CONSECRATION
Do We Love Jesus?John 6:53-59Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillWould you take a Bible please and turn to John 6 and just listen to those words again. John 6:53.So, Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day for my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.”That’s why the early Christians in the first century were called cannibals by their Roman persecutors. That was one of the charges that the Romans made against the early Christians. They said, “These people teach their children to eat flesh and drink blood”, and really you can see why they said that, because the words are so explicit. You must admit they are amazingly explicit. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood” –and these words set Jesus apart from every other religious leader.Neither Mohammad nor Buddha nor Confucius nor Zoroaster ever directed their followers to regard them as an end in themselves, and that’s what Jesus does. He says it’s an end in itself to eat me and no other religious leader has said that. Even the Gurus who try to draw attention to themselves in these days never succeed in substantiating their claim to divinity the way the man from Nazareth did by His destruction of death and His resurrection.These words are also the reason why we have bread and wine here on this table this morning. This is the heart of being a Christian, these words, and this is the heart of the purpose for which all of us, Christian or not, were created. This is the heart of life, loved ones. This is the very heart of why you were made. We all may never know the full meaning of Jesus’ words but even a little child realizes that this dear Jesus is saying, “Come to me closer than close, Come to me closer than close.”A little child wouldn’t get tangled up with the blood and the flesh. A little child would just know He is saying to me I have to come right up to, I have to get nearer to Him in breath, that’s what He wants. He wants me to come right into Him. He wants to come right into me and that’s at least part of it, loved ones. Don’t let’s get all technical about eating flesh and drinking blood, let’s just be sensible and say this dear person is saying, “Come closer to me than close, come nearer to me than breath. Let me come into you and you come into me.”That daily relationship with Jesus like that is the heart of life and what gives life richness and sweetness and fullness. Actually, most of us have at some time or another experienced that kind of closeness with a person. Most of us here have had a dear Dad or a dear Mom who were just very precious to us or we’ve had a boyfriend or a girlfriend or a husband or a wife or a Mom or a Dad or a son or a daughter who’ve just been dear to us and we’ve experienced that with them. Not the intercourse that the world is preoccupied with, the physical intercourse that is just a shadow of the deeper intercourse — but we have experienced real intercourse with these people.Most of us here have had at least one dear person with whose personality ours has interpenetrated and our minds and our emotions and our wills have become just one together and we’ve been utterly involved in an intimate absorption with each other that gives life meaning at last. Most of us have experienced that with somebody. That’s what Jesus is saying is the whole purpose of our live; that we should experience that with Him and with our Creator who is really our father and that’s the whole purpose of our lives and that’s what gives life richness.Is your Christianity getting dry? Are you finding that love isn’t quite rising up from within you as it used to do? Are you finding that the duties are kind of bearing heavily on your shoulders? Are you finding that you are getting a bit brittle, just a bit brittle? You believe all the things, you talk about them, you even do the work of the Lord but it’s all a bit dry and brittle. It’s because you’re trying to make one monthly face-to-face love session do you for the whole of your life. That’s why. It’s because you’re trying to substitute one monthly love session face-to-face for a daily love session with Jesus. That’s it, really. You’ll never get a better answer than that, you won’t.If your life is getting dry, if your Christian experience is brittle, if you’re not finding it real inside you, that’s it, believe me. Not that you need to read more books, not even that you need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit — that would all come, if you would get back to having a daily love session with Jesus. That’s what sets him apart from every other religious leader. A love session face-to-face with Him is an end in itself, that’s the purpose we were made for.Actually all of us know that too in human experiences. Every husband and wife here knows it. In the early days, when you first met, I mean the Dad was often maybe right that you were doing something wrong, when you arrive so late in the car. Often he was right but just as often actually he was wrong and you were just sitting in the car looking at each other, just staring at each other and there were arguments. That’s all you did and it was just great, it was wonderful! That was enough, just to be with each other and to be staring into each other’s eyes and to be totally absorbed in each other — a great sense of rest and peace, a great sense of the eternal moment, that life is just time passing.I remember when we fell in love, we couldn’t believe the evening had come. We fell in love in the morning and we couldn’t believe the evening had come so fast because time does stand still, you just are utterly absorbed with each other — and then the wedding, then the babies, then the diapers, then the mortgages, then the church meetings and the sewing meetings and somehow it isn’t as much fun as it was.And we all like to think “Well, well, you know love has to grow up” and it has, love has to express itself in practical everyday acts of obedience and service, that’s right, it certainly has. But isn’t the tragedy in so many relationships that that practical obedience and service has utterly supplanted the face-to-face love sessions? It’s not the tragedy until you begin to feel “well, we are too old to do that in any way; the magic is gone and well, it takes too much effort.” I don’t know what we do just sitting, watching each other and yet, that’s the way it started and it will take application to get back to it but that’s what makes the marriage rich and full and real and makes the diapers easy to wash and makes the mortgages easy to bear, that’s what makes it all possible. When you lose those face-to-face love sessions, you lose everything and it all becomes a bore and a round of duties and obligations and responsibilities like Christianity. It all becomes a weight and something to carry when you stop having a face-to-face love relationship daily with Jesus.That’s it, loved ones, that’s what communion is. Communion is that and it takes just as much application to do it as it does to do it again with your loved one. You do have to get back into the way of it, you have to get back into the way of appreciating each other as you are without all kinds of side issues, all kinds of considerations about doctrine. You have to just get before Jesus and love Him and draw Him into yourself and eat of His flesh and drink of His blood. That’s amazing but if you’ll do that, you’ll certainly begin to find sweet water coming up from inside again.So, will you regard today — Holy Communion we call it — will you regard Holy Communion this morning as the pattern for your daily life? Will you? That’s what we believe about Sunday. Sunday sanctifies all the rest of the days. Not it’s set apart from them but it sanctifies them, it sets a pattern for them. Will you let Holy Communion set a pattern for your days and would you get your relationship with Jesus back into repair? That means, would you talk to Him? Would you love Him? Would you spend time in His presence? Just spend time in His presence. Stop babbling, stop talking.Do you remember when you first fell in love? You couldn’t talk. That’s what Thomas found, “My Lord and My God”, so it is when we’re in love, we just haven’t words to express, it’s just too great, that’s what loving Jesus is. So those husbands and wives who need to get back to that, I’d ask you to get back to it together and you’ll need to have discipline — need to get the television off, need to get the children and the dogs out, all the rest of it. You might even need to arrange a nice situation to do it in. See you’ll have to work at it a little to get back to it.Same with Jesus. Don’t think it’s going to be any easier. You’ll have to work at it. You’ll have to get up at 5:30 in the morning, give him half an hour – “half an hour Lord, just to think about You” — that’s it. And bit by bit loved ones, after the first few sessions, you will begin to hear Jesus speaking to you. It’s amazing, you will begin to hear Him speaking to you, and that’s the purpose of our lives. That’s it. I don’t know if you’re really getting that one, because it is the end of the message, but that actually is the purpose of our lives. No more than that. So don’t expect anything greater, that’s it. That’s the purpose of our lives, to love our Father and His son and enjoy them, that’s it.When you begin to do it, you’ll find your life becoming richer really. So I’d ask you loved ones as you take part in communion today to look to Jesus and then to do it each day of your life — to have a daily love session with him face-to-face. Let us pray.We do not presume to come to the this table most merciful Lord trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table, but thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so by faith to receive thy son, our Savior Jesus Christ, that the bread which we break may be unto us the communion of His body and the cup of blessing which we bless may be the communion of His blood and that we may evermore dwell in Him and He in us.The Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread and broke it and said, “This is my body which is broken for you, this do in remembrance of me.” In like manner he took the cup after supper saying, “This is the cup of the new covenant in My blood, this do as often as you drink it” for as often as you eat the bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He come. Amen.
How can you Live up to Your Ideals? - CONSECRATION
I Can’t!Revelation 13:8Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillSomeone has said that a comedian laughs because if he didn’t, he would cry at the state of the world — and two of the comedians who are among the most serious commentators in our modern life at the moment are Woody Allen and Mel Brooks. Now in mentioning their names I am not at all recommending a lot of their movies because their movies often include the worst in our society as well as serious commentary, but it is interesting to see the confirmation of the truths that God is helping us to see by looking at a comment of, for instance Mel Brooks’, in an interview recently.The interviewer asked him, “Do you no longer believe there is a Supreme Being?” — because of course you know a lot of his fun is based on belief in a Supreme Being — and he said, “Yes, of course I believe there is a Supreme Being” and the interviewer asked him, “Well, are you afraid of Him?” and Mel Brooks answered, “No, I am not afraid of Him” and then the interviewer said, “Is there any power that you are afraid of?” and Mel Brooks thought for a moment and he said, “Yes, there is. When I get mad at somebody, and I sense within me a power that is stronger than myself and I realize that that power exists in everybody else who lives in this world, then I get scared.”It is interesting, isn’t it, that both Brooks and Allen lay a lot of emphasis on that streak of perversity within us that makes us lose our temper. It’s interesting that a lot of their present day work lays emphasis on that strain of perversion that seems to be deep down within each one of us — that seems utterly uncontrollable. We so often talk about the hating, killing, Mr. Hyde that rises up within the quiet civilized Dr. Jekyll that everyone thinks us to be, and of course you know we have often discussed why it is that we seem to be bound by a chain to the words and the actions of other people. We seem to be bound by a chain to the circumstances we’re experiencing, to even the very things that we own We seem in our personality to be bound and enslaved by a chain to them so that instead of being free self-determining individuals that do what they really think is right, we seem to be bound in such a cause and effect stimulus response reaction to these things around us that we’re forced to respond in ways that we don’t want to and we can’t control it and you know that all of us have experienced it from time to time. We will act or think on principle, just from time to time.Normally, we act according to a blind stimulus response reaction to either what people have said to us or what things are happening to us or what kind of things we own. Loved ones, Jesus and his disciples have explained to us that that old personality of ours that is enslaved to the world of people and circumstances and things in that cause-effect stimulus response way — that old personality has been destroyed.Do you remember Jesus calls it, “It’s your old self” and He says, “That old self was crucified with me, that’s why I died.” For those of you who have never heard it before it’s stated this way in Romans 6:6. “Our old self was crucified with Christ so that we may no longer be enslaved.” When did it happen? Well, in time, in our history, in our space-time universe. It happened around 1900 years ago, that’s when it was manifested in the death of this Jesus in Jerusalem. But actually it happened long before that because the need to break the chain that binds our personalities to other people and other things and other events and other happenings and makes us slaves and robots, the need to destroy that and to recreate it was foreseen by God before he made us. Do you realize that? Ourcomputers can perceive our food needs and our oil needs a hundred years hence. Don’t you see that the great Creator of the universe was able to foresee what we would do and how we would enslave our own personalities to people and things before He ever made us? It doesn’t mean He made us do it, but He foresaw it– and loved ones, He destroyed our old perverted personality in Him, His son, in eternity before creation. That might be new to you so I would ask you just to look up the verse where it states it.Go to Revelation 13:8. And those of you have heard me translate this in the RSV before know that they have mistranslated it compared with the King James and in fact in Greek it is in a different order. Revelation 13:8. “And all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not be written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.” Now you have to trust me that if you look at the Greek New Testament, you will find that the adverbial phrase of time “before the foundation of the world” actually occurs after “that was slain”. You see that. So “before the foundation of the world” goes not after “written” and does not modify the verb “written” but modifies the verb “that was slain”. So the verse should read “And all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written in the book of the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world” — “whose name was not written in the book of the Life of the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world.” In other words loved ones, God foresaw all that would happen and He made provision and He slayed His own son in His own eternal mind before He created the world, who were included in that death. I think a lot of us have a tendency to say “well, probably all the Christians, isn’t that right?” No, look at 2nd Corinthians 5:14 and you will be amazed with the answer.2nd Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ controls us because we are convinced that one has died for all” — that’s for all people on the earth. Therefore, all people on the earth have died. Do you realize that loved ones? That means that every one of us in this room and every one of us in the lounge, and every one of us throughout the whole world were put into Jesus before the creation of the world and our old miserable perverted personality that makes it impossible for us to obey the best that we know, that was destroyed in Jesus.In other words, God simply allowed us to live in this Satan dominated, self-gratifying world that is an absolute lie so that we would have a clear choice. We could either continue to live in this lie of a world that says that you’re on your own, there’s nobody will take care of you but yourself and you better use people and circumstances and things to make yourself as important and secure as you possibly can — you can do that — or you can affirm the actual truth that that personality that has become enslaved to that world has been destroyed in Jesus and has been recreated in his resurrection.So here’s the amazing thing. Nobody in this room will go to hell or will suffer eternal loneliness or will be alienated forever from God or will burn forever in their own selfish lusts because they have not been put into Jesus. They will suffer hell, they will burn in their own lusts, they will be alienated from the God who loves them because they have refused to accept what God has done to them in His son, and loved ones that’s it.There is not one of us here this morning who can say “I can’t obey, I can’t. There were other people who have been placed into Jesus and have been destroyed and raised within. They can, I can’t.” No loved ones, every one of us has experienced in reality the same deliverance in Jesus that everyone else has experienced and there is none of us here who cannot obey God’s word to us in our conscience if we so choose this morning. That’s what communion is. That’s why it is open to everybody here,that’s why any of you can take the bread or the wine, who are willing to affirm that your old self has been crucified with Christ, that you are now in Jesus, that you’re part of Him, that you have all the power that He has to obey his Father and to love and to do miracles.All you have to do this morning is to choose that by faith and live like that in the coming days and you have that opportunity. Now I know it’s a deep kind of truth. I know that. But loved ones, it is actually true that all that has needed to be done to enable us to be free people has been done and here this morning is another opportunity for you to listen to Jesus’ spirit as He outlines to you a new liberty that He has provided for in your life, a new liberty into which He wants you to enter.So will you listen for His spirit? And don’t be discouraged, no, He says it. If it’s the smoking, you can do it. A thousand times you might get up and fall, but you can do it because that chain that binds the nerve endings and their usage to nicotine has been destroyed, and you can do it. And you with the old unclean thought problem, you can do it because the old track in the cortex of the brain that has continually got used to thinking unclean thoughts at night, that was destroyed with Jesus, has already been destroyed by God’s word in Revelation 13:8, has been destroyed and you can think cleanly, you can, and the same with all our other sins.So this morning as you hear God’s voice, stand up claiming your dear Savior Jesus and do what He tells you, because you can through Christ and the strength in you. Loved ones, if you are ready to, will you stand and I’ll give the invitation.You that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins and are in love and charity with your neighbors and intend to lead a new life following the commandments of God and walking from henceforth in His Holy ways, draw near with faith and take this holy sacrament to your comfort and make your humble confession unto Almighty God. Let us be seated as we pray.
The Changed Life Available to Us - CONSECRATION
Jesus’ Travail For YouIsaiah 53:11Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillIf you have a Bible with you please turn to Isaiah 53:11. This is the real reason for taking communion and it’s the basis of really taking it and not just eating bread and drinking wine. You remember it’s the miraculous description of Jesus’ experience on the cross, written eight centuries before Jesus was crucified. It’s one of the greatest prophecies we have.Read verse 11, “He, my righteous servant,” originally Israel and really meaning Jesus, “He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. By His knowledge, shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and He shall bear their iniquities.” Do you see the beginning of the verse, “He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul,” – and it’s just “ma mal” in Hebrew. “Amal” is “trouble” or “travail,” and the “min” is “from” or “after” or “in consequence of.” So it means “in consequence of the travail of His soul, He shall see a sight that gives Him pleasure.” He shall see and be satisfied or be pleased.Do you know what the travail of Jesus’ soul was? I think a lot of us when we first heard of Jesus’ death thought, “Well it was the pain, the physical pain that He was bearing.” Then we thought a little more about it and read a little more about it and heard a little more and we went a bit further and we said, “Well it was His own feeling of loneliness being away from His Father and being surrounded with all these people who hated Him.” Then some of us went a little further and we said, “Well it’s more than that; it’s the pain that any of us would feel if somebody came in here and just started to swear in Christ’s name. It would hurt us deep down because there’s something in us that loves Jesus.” We would say the travail of Jesus’ soul was the pain of a pure clean loving heart being surrounded with so much hatred and so much dirt, and so much blasphemy against God.Well loved ones, it was deeper than that. Do you know the moment when you have had real trouble speaking the truth to other people? You know those moments when you want to say what you really believe but you’re afraid of what they will think of you? Inside you want to you want to say what you know is right, but you’re afraid of what they’ll think of you. And you find that even though you want to please God, for years you have been pleasing men and women and your whole personality seems bent that way. You know that feeling? Sometimes you say, “My personality is so used to this, I can’t do it. I want to. I want to. I want to say what is right but I can’t because my personality seems bent in that direction. I’ve got it used to this like a drug addict for years. I’m so used to praise, that I’m like a little puppy dog. I’ll just beg almost for it. I sometimes go home at night and I’m surprised at what a fool I have made of myself in my own eyes, if in nobody else’s, just because I’ve wanted them to praise me. I’ve seen what a conceited ass I am.” Have you ever felt like that?Now what Jesus did on the cross, and I know it’s hard to realize, but what he did on the cross was take your personality that is so enslaved to people’s opinions that it’s bent that way, and He took it in His own heart inside His own Spirit. He allowed it to become Himself. Then He looked up to His father and He said, Lord “Burn this out and destroy it in me. Destroy it utterly and absolutely. Send it to hell in me.” That’s part of the travail of Jesus’ soul. Loved ones, He bore the pain thatyou and I could never have faced and that we would have had to face at the end of this life, and it would have utterly destroyed us.If I could describe it to you like this: It’s as if God is surrounded by an invisible curtain of pure holiness and He is here and you come through it when you die. And it burns you up if there is anything unholy in you. It burns you up. If there’s someone who loves men’s praises more than God’s, that someone would turn heaven into hell, and so as he comes through that curtain of holiness he himself is repulsed. Now that’s what Jesus bore on Calvary for you. Jesus bore the agony and the pain of that. So do you see how true it is that you don’t have to get into Jesus?See I think a lot of us misunderstand this because we think if tonight I repent really and I believe truly I’ll somehow get into Jesus. The truth of this dear word is that we judge that one died for all, therefore all died. Every one of us here in this room were crucified with Jesus. Every one of us here, our personality, that intractable part of us that will not obey, it was destroyed and made anew in Jesus. It was. It is not as you think. You think when you lose your temper, “I can’t do anything else because I’m made that way.” That is the lie of Satan. God says He has put you into His son Jesus and He has completely renewed you. That has been done. It has been done.The only question is whether you will believe that or not, and act upon it. Do you see why it is such pain to Jesus when you continue to say, “But I can’t, I can’t!” He knows you’re not seeing that you’re actually in Him. And that “can’t” personality of yours was destroyed in Him and that He is in you. He is in you and He can through you. He is in you at this moment. See some of you don’t really believe that tonight. You think, “No you mean He will come into me.” No, the Bible says God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. God has already placed us all in His son. He has already changed us all completely. The only question is whether you will believe that now and will live in the power of that.Now do you begin to see? The verse says Jesus will see of the travail of His soul and will be satisfied. Or after the travail of His soul that He has borne for you, He will see a sight that is pleasing to Him. What is that sight? Well it certainly isn’t thousands and thousands of people saying, “I can’t help losing my temper. I can’t help wanting the praise of men, I try but I can’t help it.” When Jesus knows all the time, “my son, my daughter, that personality of yours was destroyed in me and now I have become you, and you have become me. You can, by one little turn of your will and one little turn of your mind to believe that I have destroyed everything in you that will not obey.” Jesus looks down on us tonight here in this room, after all of the travail of His soul that He has borne for each one of us, and He’s looking not at all at our prayers or songs so much or our good intentions. He’s looking at the way we are living tonight. He’s looking at every one of us that is using the miracle that He wrought in our personalities to actually live like Him and obey him.Do you see that? See it’s like, it must be like a mom you know, who goes through all the agony and travail of bearing the child and at last the child is born and then the little one stops breathing. Won’t breathe. The mother has travailed to give it life but the little one won’t breathe or it won’t eat. It must be that ten thousand times worse, when Jesus looks at us tonight and remembers the travail of soul that He bore to allow all that is wrong in you and me to be destroyed and then sees us not making a move but still pleading that we can’t be like Him and He’s saying, “you don’t need to be like me. All you need to do is believe that my Father has put you in me and that I am in you and I can be like myself in you, if you will just give me freedom. Just believe that I am in you. Just believe that I’m able to love, believe that I am able to repeat again what I did on Calvary’scross, to live independent of people’s praise or people’s approval in your life.” Loved ones that is part of it. That after the travail of His soul He will see a sight that is pleasing to Him. You see that’s the meaning of that verse, “He has borne our iniquities,” not the punishment for our iniquities — He has borne our iniquities.There is not one unclean habit in your life that Jesus did not take into Himself and allow to be destroyed in Him. There is not one unclean way of thinking that you have that Jesus has not borne the pain of its destruction already on Calvary. In other words He knows you and me better then anybody else because he knows the worst sides of us that nobody else knows, because those are the sides that He bore on the cross, and He bore them so that we would live free from them. That’s why we always say the victory is faith. The victory is — do you believe that? Or do you still keep on pleading the good that I would I cannot do. The evil I hate is the very thing I do. Do you keep on pleading, “I want to care for God’s praise and be contemptuous of men’s praise. I want to but I can’t.” Loved ones, Jesus has destroyed that personality that was enslaved that way. You can, and that’s the meaning of this communion service.What is Jesus looking for? Spoils, the spoils of victory. That’s the beautiful thing that He wants us to present to Him tonight, the spoils of His victory. New places in your life where tonight you are changing. New things that you’ve seen Jesus has destroyed, and I don’t need to put up with them any longer. So Lord, I’m finished with them. That’s it. That’s what Jesus wants to see. And that’s all you have to do to take communion seriously and really tonight, loved ones, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you if He hasn’t already revealed, and He has revealed to me just tonight something. Now if He hasn’t already revealed anything to you, just ask Him to reveal to you something that Jesus allowed to be destroyed in His dear heart on Calvary. Something that He bore travail of soul for and something therefore that you can be free of tonight and that you can stand up in his personality and say, “Lord I am finished with that. I will obey from this moment on.”Loved ones, what I thought might help, and what we did in Ireland, I remember in the old days, we would read some of God’s laws. Usually we had it written into our liturgy and we would read laws like the Ten Commandments. I thought it would be good to read some laws in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit might use to bring home to your heart something from which the Holy Spirit wants to free you tonight. Will you turn to Matthew 5, and I’ll just ask us to read two chapters, or parts of two chapters, and then we can pray, but it’s Matthew 5 and many of us know these verses.In Matthew 5:21, and these are just very plain down to earth commandments that Jesus has freed us to obey. And that it’s a delight to obey and that it’s natural to obey. “You have heard that it was said,” verse 21, “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘you shall not kill and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment. Whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council and whoever says ‘you fool’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering a gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go, first, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser while you are going with them to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.“You have heard that it was said you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away. It is better that you lose one of your membersthan that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better that you lose one of your members than that you let your whole body go into hell. It was also said whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the ground of unchaste, makes her an adulteress, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.“Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.“You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This means if any of us have anything between ourselves with another person here, or at home or at work, we should fix it this very night or first thing tomorrow morning. That’s the way Jesus would see after the travail of his soul, he would see a sight that is pleasing. He would see that it was worth it all.You see, just a few verses, loved ones, in Philippians 4:4. Just ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you if this has something to say in your life and about your behavior. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Now that means “don’t complain.” Do you see that? Some of us have a little trouble with the translation there, but it means “don’t complain.” Wonder how often, how often we don’t see that as failing to rejoice, but it isn’t. When we complain it brings pain to others. It spreads Satan’s negativism and it destroys and kills. You can’t rejoice and complain at the same time, you see, if you are complaining then you’re not rejoicing. If you say to me, “Well can you rejoice when your house is burning down?”, yes you can. Yes, many people have rejoiced as disastrous things have happened. They have seen God turn them around because they kept faith that He was in control. Whereas the complainers have shown that they didn’t trust God at all. They were utterly caught up with what they could see, and they walked by sight and not by faith.“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice,” — whether you feel like it or not. That is a command. “Thou shalt not kill,” — well I feel like killing today. “Thou shalt not covet,” but I feel like coveting today. Well this is the same order. “Rejoice,” well I don’t feel like rejoicing. It doesn’t matter it’s a command. You will rejoice.I remember a brother who went into one of the Anglican brotherhoods in England and that’s the way the day starts. The brothers are all sleeping in their cells and then the brother whose job it is to wake everyone up knocks on everyone’s door, knocks on the door and says, “This is the day that theLord hath made,” and the brother has to answer him with, “We will rejoice and be glad in it.” It’s good in a way. It’s good you know. Start the day rejoicing, obeying God’s commandment.“Let all men know your forbearance; the Lord is at hand.” I just ask you who are in offices and me who are in offices all day: do all men know our forbearance? Or do all men know our irritability and our impatience? Do all men think it’s amazing what he puts up with? Do all men think that of us, and the ladies among us? Do all men think that? “Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Do you see the command, “have no anxiety?” It’s not an exhortation, it’s not a piece of good advice, it’s a command, “have no anxiety,” so there is no room for self pity, “Oh but poor me. If you knew what I had to put up with you’d be anxious too.” No, God says have no anxiety. That’s a command. You have no anxiety; I’ll take care of the thing. If you have anxiety, I can’t take care of it. Have no anxiety about anything, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And then this is beautiful. In verse 8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” No negativism.Now if I could share one little thing with you, it’s very interesting that those men and women who are suffering the most, in the Siberias of this world and in the prisons of this world, are those to whom those verses are most precious and are those who are most positive in their thinking. It is very interesting that it is often those of us who have so much and have so many good things that find it so hard to be positive, and to keep our eyes on the blessings of God. So, let’s just go before God, and I’m going to do the same thing, and let’s ask him to give us light, and just pray as God guides you, sometimes with praise and sometimes confession.Dear Father, we come before you as a people who want to be honest and real with you tonight. Father we want first of all to thank you for Jesus, and Lord Jesus, we cannot thank you enough when we consider the travail of your soul for us, Lord thank you. Lord you have borne what we couldn’t bear ourselves and what no other man could bear. Lord thank you. We can’t understand how you still love us, having seen all the things that we are, and then having borne them in your own clean and spotless dear heart, but Lord we thank you tonight. We see that there is only one thing that we can do, if we really believe we are in you, Lord, there is only one thing to do, and that’s to repent in dust and ashes and turn gladly from those things that you are showing us tonight, and to commit ourselves to a new way of life and to a new attitude, taking up our position in you. And from now on, we will treat ourselves as you, as you, treating this body as yours, and all our jobs as yours and letting you be yourself Lord. Thank you. Amen.
Why is Christmas Important? - CONSECRATION
Christian or Christ Like?Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillWhy would you say Christmas was important, yourself? If somebody asked you this morning, why is Christmas important, how would you answer? Now obviously we get a day off work and that’s important and you get presents and you have office parties but most of us realize that those are incidental by-products of Christmas, however important they may have become to us. they are not really the important thing about Christmas and most of us know that and we’re well-trained and coached and brain-washed and so we would answer safely, “Oh, the important thing about Christmas is it’s “Christ mass”, it’s the mass of Christ, it’s the feast of Christ. It’s the time when we remember Jesus’ birthday,” and I think that’s how we’d answer.But do you see that to most people on the earth, that’s begging the question. It’s really begging the further question, “Well, what’s the big deal about Jesus’ birthday? Why is it so important?” That’s what I just ask us to look at together. Why is Jesus’ birthday important? A good place to begin is the Nobel prizes. You know they are those financial rewards and international recognitions that are given by Sweden to outstanding human beings who make great contributions to human knowledge. If you have been following the award of the prizes this year at all, you’ll probably agree that this has been the year of the origin of life prizes.There has been tremendous emphasis on how life originated in recent research and that’s been recognized by the Nobel Committee this year. Some prizes were given to two astronomers who measured the energy that comes from outer space and have been able by measuring that energy, virtually to prove that the universe did not evolve gradually over billions and billions of years from the collision of two atoms, but that it has originated suddenly from a catastrophic release of energy in something like a big bang and so a Nobel prize was awarded to them for that tremendous clarification about the theories of the origin of the universe.Three other prizes were given to men who have identified enzymes that may be used to program the genes that govern hereditary diseases and hereditary traits and may therefore enable us to know how we’ve become what we’ve become. One interesting fact that you might have noticed about leading scientists today is a new humility as they have pushed beyond the frontiers of our present knowledge. They have begun to be able to identify more precisely what they don’t know. And they have been willing more and more to humbly admit that there are things that they can’t know.One science writer in the New York Times about two weeks ago said, “The big bang theory argues for belief in creation of the world in an instant rather than its evolution over a long period of time,” but the problem is that if it all started with an explosion, then we can no longer find anything out about what exploded and so scientists are realizing that if we posit a big bang theory, that’s as far as we can go. We can never go behind the big bang because the big bang destroyed all that caused it and so scientists are realizing we can go up to there but by our own definition, we can’t go beyond it because all that was there has exploded and we can’t tell what was there before the explosion.This same science writer you put it like this, he said, “We are now faced with the ironic picture of scientists for years struggling to reach the summit of the highest intellectual mountain of the world. At last they are able to pull themselves over the top of the last peak and there in front of their very eyes sit the theologians who were there all the time saying, ‘In the beginning Godcreated the heaven and the earth.’”It’s interesting that that isn’t, some pastor or some theologian trying to push his own party line but it is a science writer saying that. In other words, scientists are beginning to say, “Could be.” Now, that’s what Christmas is about. It’s about our knowledge of where we came from and where we’re going to.See, after Adam and his successors refused the communications that God had made to us about his plan for mankind, thousands and thousands of our forbearers have looked up into the sky hour after hour and have wondered, “Is there somebody behind that sky?” And many of them in primitive times would look at the thunder clouds and say, “Yes, there is and he’s angry. He’s angry. I can hear his voice and his anger.” And on another calm, sunny day they would look up and say, “Look at the sky, look at the cloudless sky and the blue sky, the Creator obviously is pleased with us today.” And they would look at the mountains and think now, “Boy, he must be a great and a mighty person to put that mountain there,” and others would look at themselves and their own fingers and their own faces and they’d say, “Well, he must be something like us if he was able to make people like us.”But in spite of all that loved ones, there was constant vagueness and uncertainty. Various people illustrated and organized those thoughts into statements and beliefs and that was how the original nature religions came about like Hinduism and Zoroastrianism and various other human beings among us wondered how we should behave and we devised little ethical systems and those became Buddhism and Confucianism. Yet despite all these attempts at describing how we came about and why we came about and where we’re going, there was always great vagueness and uncertainty.Men were just doing their best. A shaft of sunlight came into the picture during the 2000 years of the revelations that the Jewish people received because they seemed to receive revelations of a Creator who had a consistent character that remained the same year after year after year and generation after generation. Moreover, it seemed that their information about him came not just from men’s opinions or men’s ideas or imaginations, but it seemed that the information that they got came from events and miracles that were written into their own history. Indeed that we can see enshrined in their own civil organization and their own religious rituals today. And yet even their revelation was able to be manipulated by a man like Mohammad and interpreted in his own way and that’s always been the problem. In our attempts to discover our own roots and to find out why we were here and who put us here and where we’re going, we’ve always had to come up against this problem.We have had the scientists say, “Yeah, but Mohammad, Buddha, these guys are just ordinary people like us. They are ordinary human beings. They have no more access to the reality behind the universe than we have. So why should we believe that what they say about our roots and about where we came from is true, any truer than what we think ourselves?” That’s what Christmas is about.Christmas is our Creator coming to our earth and saying, “This is the way it is. This is how it happened,” because that’s what Jesus is. He is not just a prophet like Mohammad. He is not just a philosopher like Confucius. He is not just a religious leader like Buddha. Jesus, when he was asked by the high priest at the very point of death and under pain of death, “Are you the Son of God?” he said, “I am and you’ll see me at the end of this world sitting at the right hand of the Creator and having power to settle all the whole universe.” That’s what Christmas is, loved ones.It’s God himself coming to us and saying, “I can scatter all the myths of doubt that you people havehad over the years, about why you are here and what you are doing. I’ll tell you myself in my own words through my Son here.” Loved ones there’s no question when you look at Jesus, we’ve said it often before but you do see immediately that he is just different from every other man that ever lived.He is absolutely unlike Mohammad and unlike Buddha and many of the other religious leaders in that his life was absolutely perfect and absolutely sinless. He is unlike all the lunatics that have ever claimed to be the Son of God or claim to be uniquely related to God because their lives are filled with imbalance and extremes. His life is filled with balance. In fact, we look at Jesus’ life and we regard it as one of the most perfect integrated lives that was ever lived. And he had the kind of power over disease and over nature that we would expect from the son of the person who made the nature and who made the bodies to have.Of course you know that what sets him absolutely apart from every other so called authority about where we came from is the way he himself came to earth and the way he left it. Mary and Joseph weren’t married. They weren’t married. That’s what that verse means in Matthew, they were betrothed, kind of engaged. So they never had intercourse but he was conceived in Mary’s womb because the Holy Spirit put the sperm created by God into her womb and he was born by that miracle.If you ever wonder if it was anything worse than that, all you have to look at is history. Is there any evidence of anything other than that? There isn’t. Not even among those greatest critics of Jesus and of his followers and the incredible way that he left the earth; you remember he explained to all his followers that he was going to be executed but that he would come back and he did that. He came back for more than a month and confirmed that he had power over life and over death so that he could destroy either one when he chose.That’s what Christmas is about. It’s God coming into our world in a body like ours in his own Son 1900 years ago and explaining to us personally, “Look, my Son made the world. He made it. It was all made by him. There’s nothing here that wasn’t made by him and both of us made all of you because we want you to live with us in love forever and we both want you to become like us and enjoy the same joy that we two have together.” And so Christmas has scattered all the vagueness we have.You know if there’s anybody here who wonders, “Oh what is life about?” or “Why am I here?” or “Where are we going?” or “What am I supposed to do with my life?” look at Christmas. Jesus has given us the authoritative explanation. It’s our own Creator coming to earth and telling us. That’s the importance about Christmas loved ones. Every other religion has its prophet and its outstanding preacher and its outstanding leaders but this Christianity is reality because it has at its center, the Son of our own maker and that’s why Christmas is important to us.It’s our own Maker coming here and explaining it personally face-to-face with us. So really it’s God incarnate. And incarnate means enfleshed. God in a body like ours explaining all the mysteries to us and really that’s the key to everything. That’s the key to life. It’s the key to the meaning of everything. If you can once get the Creator who originated it all to stand in front of you and explain it to you, that’s the answer. You can have no greater answer than that and that’s the only certainty that you can finally have, God incarnate.We do not need to be the dupes of people like Jim Jones [a cult leader], we don’t. We don’t, none of us. If a Jim Jones was to stand here, we do not need to be the dupes of him, we don’t. However eloquent he may be, we are not at his mercy because ever since Jesus came, we have the norm, we havethe standard, we have the authoritative revelation of what our God is really like and we can compare everything that comes across our path and claims to be explaining the will of God to us.We can compare it all with this Jesus and that’s the beauty of God incarnate. Really alive. And you can look at Jesus and you can see does Jesus commit adultery? Does Jesus stash money all round the world? Does Jesus steal from people? No. So whenever any man comes who claims to speak God’s word to us, we can compare him with this authoritative Word that we have received through his Son and it’s true too that every time you come across a man or a woman that speaks like Jesus or lives like Jesus, you can be sure that again you’re facing God incarnate. You are facing Jesus having been born in a person’s life and having developed and grown and then burst forth as he did in Mary’s own body.Every time you meet such a person, you see God incarnate and that’s what convinces you finally and that’s what final personal certainty is, you know. It’s an ordinary human life being filled with God’s Son. That’s what convinces people of truth: God incarnate. You can’t argue with Christmas and you can’t argue with Christmas when you see it in a person’s life. So I would ask you, are you a great talker or are you a great liver?Do you talk well or do you live well? Are you Christian or are you Christ like? Have you experienced what Mary experienced? Loved ones, that’s what China needs to see, God incarnate, but that’s what your friends and my friends need to see. They have had enough talk. Talk is cheap. Preaching is easy but living is the proof and I’d just ask you, has God become incarnate in your life? Because the world is dying for that kind of certainty and do you know that God can become incarnate in you, do you know that? Do you know that when Jesus died, you as you are now were destroyed and he is able to renew you completely by coming into your life this very day, do you know that?In fact, do you know that God has already put you into his Son and you actually have to reject him to keep away from becoming like him? Did you ever realize that? I think a lot of you feel, “Oh, being bad just comes naturally to me,” actually it doesn’t. You have to actually reject life, just as you keep the rain off with an umbrella and keep the sun off with a sunshade. You actually have to reject the life of Jesus that is struggling to be born in you and you know that.There’s a little thing inside you that says, “You should do this or you shouldn’t do that,” and you know that thing keeps on going even though you strangle it to death, it’s still there. It’s still a tiny little voice of conscience and actually to avoid becoming God incarnate, you have to deliberately reject the movement of Jesus’ life that you’ve already sensed at times inside you.I would ask you, why not this Christmas, begin to take steps to let that Christ life, the life of Jesus’ spirit inside you, have his own way in your life? Why not take a step towards it? And I’d point out to you that it’s action finally that counts. So you can go to work this coming weekend, you can shake your finger all you’re worth and say, “Oh you shouldn’t drink so much at the office party,” or you can say, “Oh you shouldn’t spend all that money in Christmas presents,” or “You shouldn’t be so happy,” or “You shouldn’t buy a Christmas tree,” but finally all that does is turn people off reality and turn people off God.What people desperately want to see is God incarnate– Jesus alive in another person’s life. And the only way for that to happen is for you to stop living and to give the right to your life completely to Jesus and let him reproduce that miracle. Have you ever thought there may be about 1300 of us here and there may be another hundred upstairs? Have you ever thought, what would it be like if we had 1300 Jesus’ in this room, really? That’s what God intends. That’s what God intended when he madeyou. Let us pray.Dear Father, we would come to you even though some of us are very uncertain about the whole deal. We would come to you and say that we see many things in ourselves that are not at all like you. We see many things in ourselves that would make heaven hell and Lord we don’t understand it all but we do believe that you’ve done something in Jesus in His death that is able to free us from these things.So Lord, will you help us to believe that we were crucified with Christ 1900 years ago, that we were completely renewed in a mighty cosmic miracle and that it is possible by simple faith to enter into the reality of that this morning. Lord, we see plainly that talk is cheap and it’s not Jesus’ words that convince us, it’s his life. It’s the things that happened in his life that convince us that he is your Son and Lord. We realize that our friends and our colleagues have the same right to be able to see Jesus incarnate, God enfleshed, so that they have the same opportunity to believe you as we have.Lord, we would give our lives to you for this purpose that you might be incarnate again in each one of us for the sake of our friends and our colleagues at work and for the sake of those millions that do not know you. We give ourselves to you for this purpose in Jesus’ name. Amen.