Ephesians is probably the most complex book in the New Testament and probably in the Bible. It talks about the blessings and love our Creator God has intended for us to experience in this world and in our relationship with Him. Colossians discusses the role of Christ in the church and Christ’s position as the image of the invisible God: the Creator and sustainer of the universe. We are reminded that Jesus has reconciled all things to Himself through His death on the cross giving us victory and freedom.
Keep Track of your View History - Register / Login >>
Holy Spirit is a Sword - EPHESIANS
The Holy Spirit is a Sword
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Ephesians 6:17 – “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word
of God.” The sword is both aggressive and defensive as you know. This is such a massive verse that
it’s hard to meet the challenge of it at all — “the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.”
I don’t know how much this happens to you. I’m surprised in a way how much it happens to me — and
that is a vision in the night. It’s God that gives us “songs in the night” and things can seem so
clear to you in the middle of the night when you are undistracted by the world and undistracted by
what your eyes see and your ears hear. It’s remarkable how clearly God can speak to you at that
You may have had this experience that if you don’t write the thing down it can be gone by the
morning. You want to try and hold the truth that you saw, have it written down in a visible form so
that you can call it to your mind again. It’s a mystery because the thing itself is a revelation of
light through the Holy Spirit to your spirit and it often virtually bypasses your mind. So often you
can form the words to remember it but whether those words call it up or not is a different matter.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring back to our remembrance the things he has spoken to us.
And so most of us have probably some experience of that — either through the night we get a
revelation from God or we hear something that someone said or read something that someone wrote and
we write it down hoping that we will be able to reproduce that perception of reality again. Of
course it’s a tricky thing to do. You are very conscience that it’s not the words themselves,
however carefully you choose the words. It’s not the words themselves that bring to you the whole
feeling inside that that light from God originally brought you. It’s really His Spirit.
And that’s part of the mystery of “the sword of the Spirit, the word of God”. Part of the mystery of
this is that it is not what it appears. It’s not just a book of print. It isn’t. It’s not just a
book of written words. It somehow has a spirit about it. It has an ability to bring God’s spirit
into your own heart. And so when you talk about the “sword of the spirit, the word of God” you’re
not really just talking about the Bible. You are talking about a mysterious power that the book has
that even people like Coleridge (a poet) who wasn’t terribly Christian said, “The Bible finds me at
a deeper depth of my being than any other book.”
Again and again, people who aren’t particularly Godly people or Christians will admit there is some
kind of power in the words of this book that come to a deeper part of your being than any other
book. Many will say, “Books that are talked about as inspired get their inspiration from the one
book that is inspired.”
That inspiration is breathed into the writings by the breath of God. And so when we talk about the
“sword of the Spirit, the word of God” we are not just talking about the book itself. We are talking
about a factor that nobody can quite tie down. But thousands and thousands of writers tie their own
inspiration back to this book.
It is true when you open it and deal with it in your Bible study or you open it in your mind you
seem to be touching something more than words. It seems to put you in touch in some way with the
Spirit of God which originally breathed life into it. It seems to in some way to be a book of life.
So undoubtedly when they hand this book to Queen Elizabeth and say, “take though this the most
precious thing the world possesses….” they often mean something other than this “thing”. I would
have been the first to say that it’s just a book and nothing special about it — but there
undoubtedly is. Some of its ability is to be able to give you a position above your physical and
mental position. It’s something that enables the book to lift you into a place where you can see
things differently or you see them from a different angle. I don’t know why that is. Sometimes it
brings back to you the experience of the words of the man that you are reading. But often it’s
simply an ability it has to put you into a position of transcendence and to enable you to see things
you wouldn’t normally see yourself.
So there does seem to be a kind of magic in it. It is important therefore in Bible study, or when
you read it at any time, to glance up to the Spirit who is beginning to touch you through your
attending to this book. It is important in that way to lift up a prayer to the Holy Spirit that he
will enable you to see what he has for you here.
Often what you do is read words that you have read a thousand times before. But God’s Spirit makes
them real to you and brings them home to you. So in a real way you seem to stand in the presence of
God. If you say to me, “Do you mean any of the words?” Yes. Because I was such a skeptic of this
kind of thing, I thought of the Bible as primarily a literary creation. But for whatever reason it
seems that God brings home to my heart that even if the words are simple in a verse I have as much
obligation to expound on that verse as the deepest verse in the book. Again and again during the 30
years of expounding Romans I would feel a responsibility to take all the words of a simple verse as
carefully and respectfully as I possibly could. I trusted God’s Spirit to give me life from them and
of course he did without fail.
It is remarkable that even a verse like “Jesus wept” (which is pretty deep in its own way) and other
verses that describe a physical action — God is able to make those light to you. It is a
remarkable book that is inspired by the power of God’s Spirit. It is a book that enables you to see
things that you wouldn’t normally see. It is a book that enables you to sit on a mountain top that
you aren’t on and to see things that you haven’t seen before. It is in that way a magical book. It
is a sword of the Spirit.
You could go forever on the “sword of the Spirit”. I would just point out that a sword cuts, splits
and attacks but it also defends. It is sharp — the Bible says, “sharper than any two edged sword.”
When you are cutting with the front edge the back edge is cutting you too. So it is two-edged. It is
a sword that enables you to stand against the enemy but it is also a sword that cuts back and cuts a
little slice off you. And maybe splits between the soul and spirit in your own life.
Magical is not the right word to describe the Bible because it is really a godless word in a way.
But the Bible is a supernatural book. It is undoubtedly God’s own word living and alive and able to
touch you far deeper than your own mind and emotions. So when you go to it, even in an ordinary
daily Bible study, it seems to me vital to bow your head before the Father and ask Him for what he
has for you to hear in this apparently simple, shallow verse that you are reading. God will honor
that and will make it life to you. So that’s only part of what it does.
The word undoubtedly gives you wisdom and guidance. If you ask me if I do what John Wesley did (just
put his finger on a verse) — I’m afraid at an odd time I do although I know I shouldn’t. My
grandmother had a little box of promises. Desmond (my brother) and I loved to pick out a promise
from the box. So you can do that, but I don’t recommend it. The only way is to apply yourself to
his word with loving respect and discipline. Then trust Him to speak to you.
Now, in the receiving of it you have to be very open to God interpreting the verse to you
differently. Is that good practice? Well, normally we should love God will all our heart, soul,
strength and mind. It is better to use your mind to study the verse, see the context and see what it
meant in that historical situation. I think that’s by far the safest route to go. But there are some
times of difficulty, trouble, sadness and depression, as well as at times of joy and light when
God’s Spirit just takes a verse and applies it immediately to you. You just know that God means that
verse to apply to you. He may not mean it to be that to others but he means it for you.
Then it’s important to realize that God is gently, kindly and graciously speaking to you from his
own heart. That’s very important so that the book itself fades behind the living word that is right
besides you – Jesus himself. Undoubtedly there are times when God speaks to you directly despite the
context. But normally the wise thing is to see the context to which the words occur and to see what
their application was in that historical time.
I think there is virtually no sense in going to the Bible and reading it if you don’t end up with
the vital step of asking God personally, “Lord is there anything here that you have to say to me
personally through this piece.” Even after you’ve studied the verse in its context and after you’ve
analyzed and thought about it, it’s important to say at the very end, “Lord is there anything that
you have to say to me directly here that I have not seen myself.” It is finally the Lord that you go
to and not in a way the word. In a way it’s great to respect the word but really it is precious
because it’s God speaking to you. That is the most precious thing of all.
Now, can you know when God has spoken to you? Yes, undoubtedly you can. Whether it’s Him speaking to
you at the very beginning of reading the verse or whether it comes through the context or whether it
comes at the very end, it is his will that you would know what is said to you there in that
situation. And that’s why you go to it.
We could go on forever about the word of God, the sword of the Spirit. I just thought we ought to
introduce the whole subject this morning. Eph 6:17 – “And take the helmet of salvation, and the
sword of the Spirit.” I’d just point out to you that you don’t need anything more said about the
principalities and powers. You can see it when you look at the mess in Rome. It’s evidence that the
whole world is in trouble because of the principalities and powers who are workers of evil in the
darkness. That’s why we need to take unto ourselves the whole armor of God.
You have to say that the main part of that armor is the sword of the spirit or the word of God. Let
The Word of God: a Sword - EPHESIANS
The Word of God: a Sword
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
“…And the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17c
Barth has one of his baffling parts of his church dogmatics. He often talks about things that we
can’t talk about because we lack the words to talk about it or we lack the context to talk about it.
Or, it’s so unusual that we’ve never thought of it because we think it’s too difficult to think. He
starts off by saying, “God had no need to make himself known.” And of course immediately your mind
is thrown in confusion because you think what would he have done? And then the next question would
be, “How would we know him?”
And so it’s one of these statements that stops you in your tracks and you wonder where is he going
to go with it? That’s always what surprises me about Barth. Not only did he say that God had no
need to make himself known, but that he might have chosen not to make himself known. So you’re left
wondering how to think.
Then of course he always plunges in and is like an old guy that finds the latch in a dark cave.
Suddenly some light comes in and then you can see. So he proceeds and then indicates that even then
Christ was God’s only begotten son – so they were together. You can guess that he gets that from
those early words, “Let us make man in our image.”
Obviously he was speaking to someone and obviously his son was with him. What we talk about in
theology is the eternal generation of the son. The son is eternally with God.
In other words you’re into a realm that you can’t talk about because you can’t talk about eternity.
We are in the midst of time and we can’t conceive of eternity. And so all one can say is that God
and Jesus were with each other forever. It’s beyond us to say, “Was there ever a time when he begot
his son?” Obviously there is some indication that he did beget him.
So then, Barth wades through from there. But one thing he says is, “God spoke.” God had no need to
speak and that’s what he means when he said God had no need to make himself known. Barth says that
God speaking is God pouring himself out and expressing himself. And he indicates that God had no
need to express himself for his own satisfaction. But he chose to express himself. He uses a word
that means he chose to come out. He chose to come out of himself. He chose to express himself
outside himself. He chose to do that. And he expressed himself outside of himself by his Son. He
expressed himself through his only begotten son who was with him from the very beginning.
That’s why John’s chapter there is so remarkable. John says that Jesus was the living word with God
from the beginning. Indeed he was God. So John is saying that Jesus was the only begotten son of
God. He was part of God, of the same substance as God. And so when God spoke the word he spoke his
Son forth. We only know God through the Son. No one has seen God at any time but the son has
revealed him. So the speaking of God’s own character and nature comes through his son Jesus. And
that’s why we talk about Jesus as the living word.
He is the living word of God. And he became flesh. He was the living word before he was flesh. He
was the living expression of God in eternity to the angels. Christ was the expression of God. That’s
the only way we know God through his son. That’s why we call Jesus the Word. In the beginning was
the word, the word was with God and the word was God. And then the word became flesh in the man
Jesus Christ – became a human being.
And so when Christ came forth he spoke his father. He was the one that spoke in Isaiah. He was the
one who spoke in Abraham. He was the one that spoke in Moses. When he walked with Shadrach, Meshach
and Abednego in the fiery furnace – he was the son of God that walked with them. It was Christ that
spoke through Isaiah and Jeremiah. He was the word coming forth through them. Anything that has come
as far as our knowledge of God is concerned has come through the living word who lived in everyone
in the Old Testament that spoke forth God’s word.
So Jesus was always speaking – at times through angels – like when one came to John the Baptist. Or
through a spirit such as the one that spoke to Moses in the bush on fire. But it was always Jesus
the word that spoke forth in all of those situations. And so it was Jesus that spoke in his own
human body as Jesus of Nazareth. As a little baby he spoke forth. Then as a growing son he spoke
forth. Then as a man who taught as a Rabbi he spoke forth and he did miracles and revealed himself
as close to himself as we could see him from our human experience.
And then he explained to us that the whole plan for his father that he would be in us and we would
be in him. And that we were in fact made through him and in him. And it was him that held us
altogether. And when he would go he would then send his own spirit back into us and he would live in
us and we would live in him and his Father would continue to express himself through us.
And so that’s why we all are here. We’re really a continuity of what started from the very beginning
when God chose to come out and make himself known. It’s all a continuation of his only begotten son.
So this is not a break we are experiencing. It’s not an unusual thing that we are part of the son.
That has been the situation from the very beginning. We were made in the son and we are part of
Jesus. It is him that is in us. That is why we are here on earth — to do what the apostles did or
rather what the Spirit of Jesus did through the apostles. So we are just a continuation of that
The Holy Spirit, Jesus and we are all part of the expression of our Father. One of the most
wonderful parts of this is that we are allowed to be conscience of ourselves and to know ourselves
in Him. We can know that we are actually a living expression of him and a living part of him. We are
a unique creation and expression of him. We are part of him and he is part of us.
When we talk about God’s word here, the sword of the Spirit, we are talking about a remarkable gift
that the Father has given us. This has delivered us from deception. This has delivered us from a man
such as me saying, “I am Christ!” Or, “I am a reincarnation of God.” Or, “I know what God really
thinks.” It delivers us from all kinds of unusual eloquence and really from con men and deceivers.
It delivers us from all uncertainty. You are part of Christ – well you certainly are. You say, “Does
Christ say this? Well, we can look here in this book. They can’t put one over on us – they can’t.
Because of this dear gift that he has given us. All we have to do is say, “That’s not what he says
here. That’s not the kind of person he was.”
That’s part of the reason it’s called the sword of the Spirit. It’s sharp and pointed, it’s useful
and Jesus himself used it in Matthew again and again. Man shall not live by bread alone but by every
word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Because of course when it says — ‘sword of the Spirit,
the word of God’ — it is rhema. The emphasis of rhema is not a written word but the utterance. The
best translation of the Greek is an utterance. The
Sword of the Spirit is the utterance of God.
We each are here to utter what God is revealing to us in our lives in all kinds of situations. We
are here to incarnate that, to express what God himself is thinking in all kinds of situations. When
it says that this book here is the sword of the Spirit, the rhema of God, the utterance of God –
it’s an inspired record of things that God has uttered through the apostles and through his son.
The Bible is just a wonderful way of checking out whether we ourselves are uttering the word of God
or not. All we have to do is examine the spirit of this book and the kinds of things he said here.
From that we can tell whether the kinds of things we are saying are from God or from some other
spirit. It is just an unusual and outstanding expression of God’s will, his words and his spirit so
that we are able to check our own words and expression of God with it. Are we really hearing God or
are we hearing some deception we have created ourselves or someone else has given to us?
The rhema of God is why we are here. Each one of us are unique ways in which Christ the living word
of God is able to express his Father’s will and thoughts and attitude here on earth. And that’s why
we are here and why such a sacrilege for somebody like me to be unkind or hard or be critical or
sarcastic. It is not simply wrong and a sin but a dastardly cruel thing to Christ within me who is
himself filled with thoughts of gentleness and kindness for each one of you.
And so for each of us it is a high and holy life that God has called us to – to be expressions of
his rhema – to speak what God speaks. You can see the connection that they are all tied together.
They are all part of Christ himself. And so this is a record of Christ’s words in this first century
of our era. It’s remarkable when you think it’s the last little part of the Bible and yet it is a
clear reliable expression of what our Father’s heart is – the kind of things he says and the ways he
That’s why it’s the sword of the Spirit. It’s sharp, clear and clean. You can cut through with it.
That’s why Jesus during the temptations quoted the word of God in answer to Satan, “You shalt not
live by bread alone but by every word….” “You shalt not tempt the Lord thy God for he gives his
angels charge over you….”
The word here is God’s clear expression of what he thinks and what he feels and the kinds of things
he would say. We ourselves are alive today to express that in our own day to day lives. It’s
wonderful and remarkable. Imagine the Father thinking of the thousands of ways in which just the
four of us even today will have opportunity to speak or admire the things he has already made or to
say something to each other that comes from his heart. It’s a remarkable plan he has to have the
possibility of his word and heart expressed in millions of actions and events everyday here in his
The sword of the spirit is the word of God is part of what we are and it’s invaluable for us to have
it. It lifts this from being an ordinary book. It just bewilders you that God would actually put it
into words that would go into ink and onto a page so that we could actually see the word God –G-O-D.
But the more remarkable thing is that this is not just the written word of God but that it carries
the living word in its spirit.
I joke about Wesley opening the Bible up anywhere and looking to see if God might be speaking to him
from that page. I of course being very intellectual would not dream of doing that but have done it
from time to time! But it comes from the sense that God is able to speak to you through this word in
ways that are miraculously appropriate to the situation that you’re in and I don’t know how many of
you have found how often a word from this book comes back to your mind at certain times and of
course it lifts your heart out of the doldrums and gives you an immediate sense that you are on the
That is the wonderful thing about this book —not only that it’s visible and something you can
touch and see but that it itself seems to have a living spirit. 2 Timothy 3:16-“All scripture is
inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in
righteousness.” The Greek means “God breathed”. All scripture is God breathed. It is breathed out
from God because it comes right from God’s inner heart. The greater wonder of this written word is
that it becomes God’s breath to you. God breathes through this book and makes the words of scripture
alive so that you sense God speaking to you and that it is true. So it is a wonderful gift.
This is the sword of the Spirit, the word of God and we ourselves are part of that expression in our
own life. Let us pray.
Put on God’s Armor - EPHESIANS
Put on God’s Armor
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
What I’d point out to you first of all is verse 10 of Ephesians 6. If you could start there that is
where the whole direction comes from. Eph 6:10 –“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength
of his might.” Then he goes into the business about the armor which I think we have taken too
lightly. Eph 6:11 –“Put on the whole armor of God.”
I wonder if you all heard what I heard in Sunday school? We often used to talk about putting on the
armor of God. It was an inspiring and interesting kind of concept and you were all for it. But it
all faded into a general attitude of: be a strong Christian and stand up for Jesus. So I think we
missed the heart of it.
Put on the whole armor of God — and then we often slide over this bit — but this is why you put it
on. “….that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” We’re all used to saying, “Oh
yes, that Devil – he’s tricky. That’s why we have to armor ourselves with everything good so that we
can stand against him. It often ends up with the siding of the good guys against the bad guys. But
it’s much more than this.
Eph 6:12 – “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities,
against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts
of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
We’re all for that, especially as we read The Warfare of the Saints by Jessie Penn Lewis. We think
yes, that’s right, that’s what we are fighting against. Yet it is remarkable that we can sink under
depression and not really think that we are contending against principalities and powers. We think,
“I’m just having a bad day.” Or “I thought of my dad today.” Or, “I’m thinking about the money
today and whether it’s going to work out.” Or, “I’m thinking about that machine that is broken.” Or,
“It’s such a dull day.”
Satan’s job is to keep your eyes off him and get you just to think it’s a bad day and that’s why I’m
a bit depressed. Or, I’ve just been thinking of those who used to be alive here and that’s why I’m
depressed. Or, you’re worried about the meal you’re going to make. Or, what am I going to do about
the coat I don’t really like but that has to be fixed and I have to do something with it. Or, what
will I do about the wretched car or machine that I don’t know how to solve or the problem with this
piece of jewelry and how to fix it.
The principalities and powers are all around us but we can’t see them at all. We say no, no, no.
It’s just the way that Mary spoke to me or the way that Pastor spoke to me or it’s the way I’m
feeling today. Or, it’s the machine. But it’s not! It’s the principalities and powers! The very
atmosphere is thick with them. The whole world — that’s what we mean when we talk about the world.
It has a whole atmosphere about it. The world pretends that there is no God. It lives as if there is
no God. The world has to do everything by its own effort, its own strain and struggle. And so strain
and stress fills the atmosphere and that’s what is coming in upon us.
But we bypass that fact and say, “No, I know all those things are there but actually …” and we go
back to our lies and jokes and being deceived by Satan that it’s just a problem of that machine.
“It’s that machine that is getting me down. If I could solve that I’d be OK. Or it’s the money thing
that is getting me down and if I could sort that out I’d be OK. Or, if I could fix this relationship
that isn’t quite right in this department in the factory…..”
But our poor hearts and spirits lie under these weights. We never think it’s the principalities and
powers. We never think it’s the leaders of darkness. We never think that it’s the elemental spirits
of the universe. It’s a whole world that lives as if there is no God. And the remarkable thing is
that a lot of that is the way we live. We actually live as if there is no God. We wouldn’t dream of
saying that about ourselves but we actually live as if there is no God.
That’s what we are doing about something. God through his word has often said, “Don’t be anxious
about anything! Rejoice in the Lord always. Never have any anxiety about anything because the Lord
is at hand and we know that. But in this situation we are preoccupied with these things that God
hasn’t dealt with. We say, God has dealt with them but here is where we go into our practical
atheism. He may have dealt with them but I still have to face them. That’s my job here. I know what
you say that God has put them under his feet but I still have to do something.
So, it’s really the deception of the principalities and powers that surround us. And it hit me very
powerfully a couple of weeks ago as I began to get some thoughts of this. I thought we live as
though we are just on our own. If you think of the way you think it’s along the lines of, “What am I
going to do now?” “What am I-I-I-I-I going to do? And we are full of ourselves. I don’t like the
term that people use when they say “We are full of it” but that’s what we are “full of it”. We’re
just full of ourselves.
And so we live as if there is no God. Certainly we live as though there isn’t a loving Heavenly
Father bending over us with our arms around us and watching us. I remember dad when I was trying to
learn to roller skate or ride the bike or swim. His hand was always right there. If I slipped into
the water he would lift my chin up. Or, if the bike even looked as if it was going to topple he was
And that’s it with our heavenly Father. He’s every minute right with us. He has us covered whatever.
But we don’t live as if that’s the situation. We live as if we are on our own here. He’s out there
and if we “ring him up” he’ll probably come and help us but we have to tackle this on our own. So we
live like the world. And the world is dominated by the principalities and powers that are really the
elemental spirits that God has allowed to develop and to exist in this planet that flies through his
He has allowed these things so that we will see the difference between living with him and living
without him. The killer is that we live without him but we believe in him. But really we live
without him. And so we experience all the uncertainty of the world – all their fearfulness, all
their anxiety, it’s coming in on us all the time.
This business of the armor of God is to protect us against those powers. It’s to enable us to walk
free from those powers and above them. And it’s not just a general, “Be strong, keep your heart up,
stand up for Jesus, put on the armor so that you can fight Goliath.” It’s not a general direction to
be on the side of the good guys. It’s a detailed direction. If you don’t put this armor on you’ll be
at the mercy of the principalities and powers. And that’s exactly what we are because we don’t
really take seriously putting on the armor of God.
I’ll do it as quickly as I can and explain some of it as much as I can understand it.
Eph 6:12, “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities,
against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts
of wickedness in the heavenly places.” It’s because of them that we put the armor on and we’ll be
protected against them. If we don’t have the armor on we’re at their mercy.
Eph 6:13—“Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day,
and having done all, to stand.” Often that’s all we are able to do is stand but you do stand
against it. “Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth.” I think there are six pieces of
armor which I’ll detail a little as I am able. “…and having put on the breastplate of righteousness
and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the
shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the
helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The first one I tried to deal with is “gird your loins with truth” – that means seeing things as
they really are. Dwell upon that and settle your mind upon it. The truth is not that we are on our
own down here or that God is still fighting things out the best he can against the enemy. We are not
dealing with that kind of dualism — God fighting for the good, the devil fighting for the bad and
we are not quite sure which will win.
The truth is that God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he has loved us, even
when we were dead in our sins raised us up, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have
been saved and raised us up with him and made us sit with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
The truth is that we are at God’s right hand at this moment. We are not down here slogging it out as
we appear to be. We are at his right hand. I would say that that truth is what is expressed when the
machine breaks. When the machine breaks and your heart drops into your boots I think it’s because
you’re not living at that moment at the right hand of God.
I think we always say, “Myron is a very extrovert kind of guy and he just tells it like it is.
That’s one of the beauties of his life. He expresses exactly what he feels and he is absolutely
bewildered at the breaking of this wretched machine! This is no time for this machine to break! And
so we say, “Well he just needs to be more deceptive. He might think that underneath but he shouldn’t
express it outwardly. He should say, “Well that’s great, God must have something good for us as he’s
allowed us to come into this trial.”
We say our problem here is that we haven’t control over our emotions or we can’t pick it up fast
enough or we can’t deceive cleverly enough. No that’s not it at all. It’s because we aren’t grasping
that we are at God’s right hand. And we’re not grasping that because we live so much in what we see
around us. We walk not by faith but by sight. We are not wearing the armor.
The armor is girded with truth, the truth that you’re at God’s right hand. But we are not wearing
that armor. We aren’t even wearing the armor when we are happy and things are going well. We’re
happy because things seem to be going well in a world that exists without God. So it’s actually bad.
“You shall be like God.” It’s the world trying to make you think you’re like God even though you are
living separate from Him. The world has many things that are working reasonably well. And all of
them are contributing to the idea that this world is OK. What’s fallen about his world?
You always get into trouble when cancer hits or a tsunami comes but generally the more you can
pretend that the world is doing OK without God the more you get used to the idea of being without
him. And so we often think, “If we can pretend then it’s OK.” The truth is that we are at God’s
right hand and we are not down here slogging it out on our own.
But we don’t spend a lot of time there at God’s right hand. Even in our prayers. Remember we used to
joke about Dan that prayed us into the ground. By the time he finished praying about the problem we
were utterly overwhelmed by the problem!
And that’s it. We don’t take the whole armor of God. We don’t gird our loins with the truth of being
at the right hand of God. We don’t spend a lot of time at the right hand of God because we have our
duties to do here on earth. We have all these things to take care of. So who has time to spend up
there? But actually that’s what the old people did. They spent a lot of time at the right hand of
God. So gird your loins with truth.
The second one is righteousness which means that you are living what you say you are living. It’s
action. Let your life be in accordance with what you know to be true. And that’s where the
righteousness comes in. We think righteousness is what God wants from us and righteousness is
freedom from sin. Righteousness is what all good people are and so we ought to be righteous.
No, those are all unimportant. Righteousness is being in accordance with reality. It’s being in
accordance with truth. It’s being in accordance with what you know to be right. Every time you’re
not righteous you are breaking down truth and honesty in your life. You are living the lie that the
world believes — that there is no God.
So the reason why we ought to obey is not to get into Heaven. It’s not even so that we’ll not offend
God. It’s because it’s right — it’s right! It’s in line with the way life really is and that’s why
you are right – you are righteous. You are righteous because you are acting in accordance with the
way that things really are. That’s part of the armor of God.
But we’ve changed righteousness to be a “holy, holy” thing. You must be good; you must avoid sin so
you’ll avoid hell. No it’s more down to earth than that. You are righteous because that’s what life
is. God is in Heaven and right with the world. We are at his right hand and that’s it. So that’s why
we are happy today. That’s why we are at peace in the midst of the disaster that has just happened,
because everything is right. It only appears to be rocking but it isn’t. God has his steady hand
Peace. The word is reconciled. I have often thought, “How on earth or in heaven could God have even
a moment of freedom from strain when some priest is raping a seminarian, or a guy in this school is
shooting all the kids with his guns? How can God be free from strain in light of all the things that
are happening?” How could you live with all those unsatisfactory events unless you have reconciled
all of them? Unless you have worked out how all of them will eventually fit into your plan for us
all. Unless he has worked out over the centuries how he can melt all those things together and make
them all part of his will. Only then could he do that.
I know that so well when it occurs to me, “how are we going to pay for this?” So often this comes to
me in the middle of the night. And you know that you can only get to sleep when you’ve reconciled
it. You can only get to the deep peace of sleep when you’ve sorted the thing out in your own mind
and you can at last let it go.
The Father lives in utter contentment. How can you live in utter contentment when you look at this
world — unless you have sorted it all out? And that’s the truth. Jesus and his father are in peace
together because they have sorted it all out.
When you reconcile the bank account it is not a matter of using an eraser to erase this bit and that
bit. It’s taking these two figures that appear to be contradicting one another and finding out why
they contradict each other. You work out that this check has been cashed and this one has not. You
reconcile them not be erasing but by sorting out why the difference and making them match each
other. That’s what reconciliation is. God has reconciled the whole thing.
This looks like an insuperable loss to the business. It looks like it will do permanent damage to
our position. Has God reconciled it? Of course he has reconciled it. This event that has taken place
in the family with no way to turn it around – God has reconciled it. God has reconciled the world to
himself. He was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. And so you live in the midst of that
I’ll do the others very quickly. It almost speaks for itself the whole business of faith. But it
seems that it’s what is said in 2 Corinthians — not walking by sight but by faith. That’s part of
the armor or God – not walking by sight. I’d ask you how often are we walking by sight? All the
things we say to each other are sight. Do you know what’s happened? Do you know what so and so did?
Do you know what’s going to happen here in this city? Do you know the effect that it’s going to have
on the jewelry business? It’s all sight!
Should you know those things? Yes, you should know that that’s a pillar and you don’t walk into it.
So yes there are certain things that are important to note. But your mind does not need to be filled
with the anxiety in our voice when we say with emphasis, “Did you see where the Thai baht is?” Or,
“Do you know what happened to Colleen when she tried to sell this?
So the constant living by sight is something we justify. Of course we know we have to deal with it
so there is no point in saying, “Well you know you have to be practical.” We all know that we have
to be practical. But there is a difference in being practical to deal with a thing and being
preoccupied with it and letting it be a main factor in your attitude to the next event you have to
deal with. And it’s there that walking by faith is a vital part of the armor of God.
I do think we get used to walking by sight and not having our armor on. Then we run into trouble. It
seems to me the whole message of this verse is that if you are walking this way with the whole armor
or God you won’t have any trouble. You won’t have trouble with worry, anxiety or irritability. You
won’t have trouble with those things because you’ll wear the armor of God naturally. The
principalities and powers that attack you just brush off every moment. So it’s a wider thing than we
The helmet of salvation is the whole realm of the thoughts. I think I’m a preoccupied guy with
thinking and the power of thinking but I think we’re just stupid. We let our thoughts go and go and
go in all kinds of ways that aren’t right. We know we should bring every thought into captivity to
Christ Jesus but think we’ll let the thoughts wander around and let our imagination go and it won’t
do us any harm. It will bring us a little relaxation.
But the armor of God is guarding your head and your mind and your thinking and guarding it from the
wrong thoughts. And immediately that a wrong thought develops in your mind you stop it right there.
It seems to me that’s part of putting on the armor.
Really the whole issue is: Are the thoughts that you have or the things that you think you should do
— are those right? You wonder at times, “did that thought come from God or from other places?”
God is so good. All the thoughts that he’s ever passed onto us human beings are rhema. The emphasis
is not just the “word” uttered but the word that comes home to you as revelation from Him. You can
look it up here in this book (the Bible). What stops you from pretending you are Napoleon and that
you should do this or that? You might be utterly led and deceived by a wrong spirit and so you can
just check it. Is it in the spirit of this book (the Bible)? Is it in the spirit that we see
revealed in this book as being God’s will?
And so the Bible is the closest thing we have to the armor of God that is seen by us and can be
touched by us. So it is a great gift to us to keep us right and from deception. That’s some of what
God is talking about here. I don’t think you become a peaceful, saintly supervisor in a factory or a
businessman that is absolutely untouched or unaffected by the disasters that occur all around you. I
don’t think you get to that by effort and will power and the power of positive thinking. You get it
by putting on the whole armor of God and living in that atmosphere everyday inside and out — then
you naturally God’s child.
I would say what we need to look at things as they really are. Where we have strain or anxiety or
worry we need to face it that we are not wearing God’s armor and we are at the mercy of the
principalities and powers. We had better get the armor of God on and find out how to live this way
inside and out.
Put on the whole armor of God. It’s a bigger issue than just “we were caught off balance this
morning.” I think we’d live longer because when you have to experience an emergency inside yourself
to hold back either this irritability you are feeling or a vague anxiety or worry that is keeping
you from sleeping — when you pull everything together you pull the strain into this body and mind,
into all the arteries and all the blood vessels and you grow older faster.
So it does seem to me one of the effects of this is — Psalm 91:16—“With long life I will satisfy
him, and show him my salvation.” This verse is made real by people who have the whole armor of God
on. Let us pray.
God’s World is the Real World - EPHESIANS
God’s World is the Real World
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The right place to start is the word of God. It seems to me it’s not familiarity with the word of
God so that we can quote all the memory verses. The idea of learning verses is good but it is just a
first step getting it into the realm of your head. But the word of God is the real world. It’s the
real spiritual world and so God has put that to us as the first and obvious way to get into the
The word of God is the real world and you can’t live in that real world unless in a sense you live
in God’s word constantly. I think we have a tendency to remember words of God that help us in
moments of emergency. And we would almost think somebody who lives in the whole atmosphere of the
word of God is a bit bonkers. You’d have to be a fanatic. But I think that’s where you have to
start. You have to start by living in the atmosphere in God’s word.
I think some verse come to us at certain moments. But you must admit that we do tend to think of it
as an unusual moment. God has given us light and he’s given us revelation. But why he puts the word
of God in as such as essential to the armor of God is because the word of God creates the whole
atmosphere of reality where there is safety.
In other words I think we go across to the factory probably empty. I used to say to Lucy, “I think
part of your trouble is that you absorb (in a kind of poetic way) the entire environment that you go
into. Whatever it is you just throw yourself open to it and let it all come in upon you.” And I do
think that’s just what she did.
But I think we have a tendency to go over to the factory with nothing much in our heads. And that
wouldn’t matter much if in our spirits we were at God’s right hand. If we were in his word and
filled with Him then we would hit the factory with that rising in our hearts. Then you must admit
the times when you found yourself responding the right way were times when you were already up. You
kind of did it as part of the general spirit of praise or joy or thankfulness that was in your whole
being at that moment.
If you say to me, “Do you think we should be singing at all times?” Well, probably you should be. I
think we should be talking to ourselves the word of God. I don’t mean that in a blind, religious,
obedient way. But the atmosphere of God’s word and presence that’s where our being is. So that when
something comes along it’s a mere nothing and we respond the right way almost without thinking.
I think too often we go across to the factory with nothing in our heads and nothing great in our
spirits but maybe a bit of a down feeling or worried about something. But we don’t hit it in praise
and in God’s spiritual capsule that protects us from the surroundings. And so really why we lose it
because the surroundings are where we live. We live right down there on the earth. I think God’s way
is for us to live where he has placed us in the heavenly places. And that’s where this comes in.
The word of God is the base for it but he says first of all truth. You live in truth. What is the
truth? It’s in Eph 2:4-7 – “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved
us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you
have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in
Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness
toward us in Christ Jesus.”
God has placed us there at his right hand in Jesus. That is the fact. God who is rich in mercy has
made you alive in Christ Jesus and has raised you up and made you to sit with him in heavenly
places. That’s where you are. Living in that atmosphere is living in the capsule. But you see it’s
more than just the thought and that’s where we kill ourselves. We think, “Oh I must remember that.
I’m in the heavenly places and …. We are full of the words, full of the thoughts but we aren’t there
If you ask when do you think we are there at times? Well, an odd time in a hymn you might be there.
You can be there in feelings by influenced by words of a hymn or by somebody else. Sometimes in
prayer God may well lift you into that place. It’s what Karl Barth says about rhema. God has a word
that is special for you and it is different from the word he has for everybody else. And when you
hear that word it lifts you into the spirit of his presence.
It seems to me that that’s the only safe place to be. It’s only safe to dwell in truth at God’s
right hand. In other words I would say if you’re not dwelling there and praising God there you are a
sitting duck. You are bound to lose your temper. Or you’re bound to let your normal human responses
govern your actions. You are bound to because there is no lift within. It’s not just an emotional
lift but a reality that you dwell there at the right hand of God.
Then there is righteousness. It’s your outward action. Your life is to be lived in harmony with
that. You are to be righteous in action. It’s a tricky one where you feel I should show sympathy
with this person and their attitude, whether it’s a customer or somebody in the factory. It’s very
tricky to know if you can do that without being unrighteous. I don’t know how much you can
sympathize with a person’s depressing attitude of the economy without in some way being touched by
it. I don’t know if it is possible.
I think it is serious what Paul says. We are to live in righteousness. Your life needs to be what
your inner being is. If you are living at the right hand of God that needs to show itself in your
outward life otherwise you create a battle or strife within you. Faith is action. You don’t really
live in faith unless you live in it with your words. That’s where it’s tricky when we come to
talking with the expatriates and we sympathize with them. “Oh yes, it’s hard… and you go through a
whole sharing of the troubles you are having.” I’m not sure how much you can travel there and not
lose it, or dent your armor or be creeping out of the capsule.
I agree with you there is need from wisdom from God when you speak with someone who tells you about
the problems he is having in his home. It certainly has to be the response of Christ in sympathy and
understanding. But to what extend you can steep yourself in that without their spirit beginning to
touch you — I’m not sure. I think that’s the whole realm where we are being naïve. We are actually
dipping our feet into that spirit.
We know that God gives the Holy Spirit to them who obey. And so if you don’t obey it seems to me
then the spirit is unable to protect you. So you can see how tricky it is to talk about these things
because it’s a whole realm that we have touched often but touched on the level of the mental.
Then Paul talks about the gospel of peace. We often joke about “losing our peace”. Well the fact is
that the peace comes because God has reconciled all things to himself. He has already made the world
right and has everything reconciled. Our peace comes from that and then living in the confidence and
joy of that. So it’s very tricky how much you can lose yourself in the general depression about the
economy. Or you can lose yourself in the general chaos of a particular department of the factory at
It’s very questionable how much you can steep yourself in that without losing the spiritual
protection that you have if you remain in your capsule. In other words you have to decide, “Are you
living here in this fallen world or are you living in the risen world with your dad and mom?” That’s
about it. The communion of saints was not just a name that the old people had. The communion of
saints was something that we all took part in whether we were living or dead. “Whether we live or
die we are unto the Lord.” And there was great clarity in the New Testament that that’s where you
I think we have a tendency to be man pleasers, and one of the crowd. We want to be with them. Well,
I’m not sure how much we can do that without it touching our own spirits and leaving us vulnerable
to the attacks of the enemy. But that’s what this is all talking about.
Then, there is the shield of faith. There are moments when the attack is intense and the crisis is
so massive –like the economic crisis — or the death of the dad or mom is so overwhelming to us or
some other disaster. It’s vital to get the shield up right away. I don’t know about you but I have a
tendency to say, “Well I ought to experience this and understand what they are facing. I ought to
receive it first as a human being.” I suspect that you don’t in a battle you don’t say “I ought to
experience this arrow. Let me feel this first one. Then I’ll shield myself from the second one.”
So, I suspect that why we have difficulties and why we do lose our peace and lose our self control
is not a failure in the mental realm at all. It is that we have little idea of how realistic living
in this spiritual capsule is and how real the protection is that God gives us. And that’s why this
speaking of the armor of God is generalized to, “Be careful, read God’s word everyday and pray.”
The helmet of salvation is from a Greek word meaning a head covering. Salvation is from a Greek word
that means security. And of course the head is your security. The head is what enables you even when
you are beginning to get outside the capsule to remember the words of scripture and remind yourself
to stay in the capsule. So the head often shields you and protects you from disaster. So that’s why
he talks about the helmet of salvation. Be very clear where your security lies. It’s in your
position in Jesus at the right hand of God where God has already reconciled this whole thing.
Then, when you do that – if it’s cancer – you just stay steady. Cancer or no cancer is neither here
nor there. With financial disaster you stay steady because it is neither here nor there. Because you
live in a world that God has reconciled to himself. And so I think there is real truth in these
verses that we have been studying and I think the heart of it is that we have a tendency to take
this whole spiritual battle and turn it into a whole mental, emotional and volitional battle.
And so we are not able to deal with the spirits that keep on coming and that keep on eating away at
us. The result is that we only from time to time rise up into the heavenlies. We spend most of the
time down here slogging it out but from time to time we rise into the heavenlies.
If you say to me, “Can you clarify anymore the difference?” I certainly know situations where you
are “up”, situations where I’m dwelling in God’s protection and preoccupied with that. I’m enjoying
him and praising him and thanking him and it seems to me that is a definite state that I can
recognize. And then I can certainly say I know another state where somebody tells me something that
has happened and I’m right down there in the midst of the difficulties and trying to work out how
can I manage the cash flow so that this thing actually works. Or what can I do to sort this person
out who is having these difficulties. And there are vast differences between the two experiences.
What I’m suggesting is that the normal Christian life is at God’s right hand, far above all every
rule and authority and dominion and power – not only in this world but in that which is to come. And
that that is where God has placed us. When we dwell there we are in reality. When we dwell anyplace
else we are in unreality and at the mercy of whatever happens to us.
I’d just ask you to think about it because we can easily reduce the whole thing to another self-help
system, another book that tells us how to live victoriously. Then you get back into the mind and
emotional game. So I think God’s will for us is to dwell where he has placed us and I think you lose
everything when you don’t do that. A lot of Christians live an “earthy life” even though we call it
a heavenly life.
The victorious life is uproariously successful. The salvation is uproariously successful. It’s not
just by inches, little bit by little bit. It’s something that entirely different from ordinary
earthly life. It ties up with prayer times in the morning. I’d like to thump myself on my head
something when it comes to prayer times. If we come “down” hoping that we’ll be lifted up we are
just a weight on the prayer time. We are a weight and will have our own trouble being lifted up.
You can’t be responsible for involuntary sin where you have no opportunity to exercise your will.
You just do it and it’s done. I don’t think God holds us guilty for that. But the moment you are
aware of how you are, up or down, do I believe God is here this moment or will I just wait till the
prayer time to do it. The moment God gives us the consciousness that we are not dwelling in
Ephesians 2:4 — at the right hand of God – that’s the moment that we either turn around or we stay.
If we stay you’ve yielded somewhat to the spirit of the world and the people around you. And as sure
as anything if you are going to see any human beings you are going to get more of that. I think all
of us know deep down that even though you might think that it’s a mental thing you can go into
atmospheres and you know there is a different spirit. You knew with Mrs. Steinsland and those older
people that live in the right place. You sense that they live in a different atmosphere.
I am with you that God has given us a good hard road – the road of the machines that can break and
things that can go wrong with the materials. We live in the midst of the financial and practical
world. It’s constantly facing us. I think unless we are in the heavenly places — in the spiritual
capsule — we are sitting ducks for the next spirit to pop from one person into us.
I don’t want to go on forever but you can see how relevant it is for these dear souls. If we live
“there” they live down there in the midst of al kinds of deceptions and wrong ideas. We need to see
that our ideas are wrong too but ours are more failing to live in what is right. But they are often
living in the midst by what is wrong and their lives are governed by it. You can see that this is a
battlefield in a quiet way and there is only one place to live. So we need to feel for each other in
the midst of it. I need to do more than telling you how to govern your mind. That’s not the problem.
The truth is in that verse that we’ll deal with next Sunday, “praying in the spirit at all times.”
Let us pray.
Praying in the Spirit with Strong Desire - EPHESIANS
Praying in the Spirit with Strong Desire
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The verse that we have managed to reach is Ephesians 6:18. We have dwelt in depth with the armor and
this verse concludes the exhortation to put on the whole armor. Eph 6:18-“Pray at all times in the
Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making
supplication for all the saints.”
So what all does praying in the Spirit mean? You remember in my wife’s crisis some time ago that
Irene needed 6 pints of blood. She was obviously pretty low on blood. There came a moment when I
looked into her eyes and she didn’t know me. There was no sense of recognition and I knew that. I
said, “Lord Jesus help us!” It was so definite in my mind I can tell you exactly what I said.
Well, the same thing happened to me a week ago when I was having the catheter removed from my artery
and was in that difficult situation where I had a full bladder that I couldn’t get rid of. I was
trying to do that and the guy was holding onto the artery to stop the blood from coming out and
really I didn’t know what to do next. That was just before I asked for my wife to come in.
I saw the guy who was holding his finger on the artery and didn’t know what to do. The nurse was
slanting the table which isn’t good when you are getting a catheter taken out and I was holding a
bottle and trying to wipe my forehead. I did not know how to solve this. My blood pressure was going
up and down. The nurse was having trouble controlling it and I could not actually see how to get out
of this situation. So I said, “Jesus help us.” And things turned around.
I would say praying in the spirit is first of all a strong desire. You could almost say desperate
desire. I thought I’d dare risk telling you these stories because it’s so different from our saying,
“Let’s have a little prayer, let’s pray for …..”
Praying in the Spirit is strong desire. I thought that was the good thing about the hymn that goes,
“Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed.” It says very plainly that prayer is
strong desire. It’s a hunger and a thirst. It’s something that you desperately want. It’s only when
you want it with all your heart that God is able to act.
Our little prayers that we pray are really what Jesus condemns when he says don’t be like the
Pharisees, speaking many words. So, first of all praying in the Spirit is strong desire. It doesn’t
mean tears and lots of emotion. It obviously doesn’t mean a lot of words. But it’s a strong desire,
a real desire on your part.
Then I would try and jump into something that might be of help to you. Praying in the Spirit is
praying down. It’s not praying up but praying down. It’s very difficult to have a spirit of God’s
own being when you are praying “up” and out of the hole to God. Praying in the Spirit is praying
down. And part of the battle in praying down is the very immediacy of the world around us.
The world is getting more and more oppressive – i.e. it presses in upon you and it’s in your face.
The noise and bustle, the general attitude of people and the shear multiplicity of mechanical
devices that we have to deal with press in upon you. It almost takes out of you your inner self. And
so it is essential that you dwell where you are, and not where you are visiting here on earth. It’s
not where you are visiting in the car driving along the highway. It’s not where you are visiting
temporarily as you go into that store. It’s not even where you are visiting temporarily in your nice
quiet bedroom. But it’s where God has placed you at his right hand.
I don’t know how you bring it about if you don’t use something like these passages in Ephesians.
There may be other ways such as hymns or “how can I keep from singing” that can help you. But for me
it’s just vital that I quietly remind myself of Eph 2:4-10.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead
through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and
raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the
coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ
Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the
gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created
in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
And there I go straight to Philippians 2:4-8. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say,
Rejoice. 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.
And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ
Jesus. 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.”
Then I just do that. If you don’t have something like that, or those very words, it is quite
difficult to escape out of your skin. If you don’t escape out of your skin you can’t really pray in
the spirit. And that’s why the rejoicing. It’s so good – we rejoice – and whatever your excuse for
thinking something else or worrying about something else we are to rejoice. It cuts through all that
and puts you into a position in Jesus at God’s right hand and then prayer rises from you. The prayer
of who? It’s the prayer of the one who is praying for us every moment (Jesus), the one who is
interceding at the right hand of God for the saints. His spirit begins to pray through you and you
pray the person up to God. And as you pray up, God’s spirit is able to touch the lives of those you
are praying for.
You are doing the same thing as the man who let their friend down through the roof for Jesus to
touch them. You are lifting them up through the roof. You are lifting them up to him and you pray in
a joyful praising spirit and not from below. When you pray from below you are heavy with the needs
of the person. Your mind is on that and you are virtually just repeating thoughts.
Like Shakespeare says, “My prayers will not go up any higher than where I am.” That’s what happens.
It hits a ceiling. But when you’re praying from your position that God has given you at God’s right
hand you realize, “that is where I am”. Then the thing hits you, rejoice, rejoice. If God is telling
you to rejoice who am I to say, “No, I can’t rejoice because things are so bad.” If God is telling
you to rejoice then things must be OK.
Then the whole heart rises. That’s praying in the spirit.
Praying in the spirit is obviously life for you and it becomes a “holiday” – or a holy day. Then,
God is able to move in the spiritual world. And that is reality. It’s not a new way to get answers
to prayers. No, it isn’t that. This is just reality. This is where you are. This is what faith is.
Faith is believing what is true.
I’ve been a long time in business and I remember when I realized that I have to sell these books
that I bought in the back of the church. But most of all I have to be “in Him” as I do that so that
people who buy the book or talk with me after the sermon see the face of Jesus and not me worried
about me whether I’m going to sell these books that I got from Alec Brooks. That’s also why I said,
“Open the doors to the Garden Restaurant” even though I knew we were not quite ready.
We should go in and live where we are. I understand fully that it’s a bear in the business world if
you are not dwelling where God has placed you. It seems to me that everything is lit up by the
presence of God. And your prayers are lifted up by his power. That’s part of what it is to pray in
the spirit for all the saints. Pray with perseverance. It’s not that grinding kind of perseverance.
It’s simply enjoying yourself while you continue to look up.
If you ask me, “What about depression?” I know it so well that I am able to tell you. Depression is
just blindness and lack of faith. It’s just ME looking at the things of earth and looking at
something that is partial. It’s not looking at anything that is true, because all this has already
been crucified with Christ and so it’s unreal. It’s allowing yourself to be fascinated by lies and
it’s almost a willful stupidity.
Karl Barth quotes, “A fool in his heart has said that there is no God.” People are foolish that
don’t believe in God. But people similarly who look upon the earth and are preoccupied with what
they see are looking at a thing that God has already said is a picture of what life is not. It’s a
lie and a deception. So whenever we get into depression we are just being downright disobedient and
unreal. So there is only one way.
I have managed to learn those verses in Ephesians and Philippians. And then there are those verses
in Colossians where it says that Jesus is the express image of the invisible God, all things were
made through him and all things hold together in Him. It makes me suddenly realize I am in Jesus and
he is what holds me together. It really lifts you out of yourself.
I would say that’s the battle. I would say praying in the spirit is opposite of praying in the
flesh. It is opposite to being preoccupied with what we can see and touch and hear. It’s living in
the heavenly places. Then the prayer rises. That was the meaning of “Jesus help us.” It wasn’t me
thinking that was a good thing to say. It was me looking up to Him because I was desperate. So let
The Armor of God - EPHESIANS
The Armor of God
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The fact that is very clear to all of us when we get into the car and drive out that gate is that
there are all kinds of forces out there and all kinds of thoughts and feelings. And if you drive out
with nothing in your head I think those flow in upon you. So it’s good when it’s a bright sunny
morning and you’re lifted by that. Yet even then, in some way you’re connecting with the elemental
spirits of the universe. Because some of the spirits around us give us that lift. That’s something
we tend to forget – all spirits are not evil and all spirits are not good. There are often evil
spirits with a lot of goodness in them.
I’m sure you haven’t really thought about it and we normally don’t get preoccupied with it but I
think if you reflect upon it at all you will agree that if you go out with nothing very much in your
head you are open to the first road rage guy that cuts across you. And already you are sliding in a
certain direction. So that’s why I’ve put these up again as I know you’ve seen them.
These few verses give you a very clear list of thoughts and attitudes that help to protect you
against those things. That’s why I put these up. It’s not that you can’t remember them but it’s good
to look at it again. You put on the whole armor of God. I think it’s good even to have that in your
head so that you can decide to think of one of them or not. But at least you have them in your head
and that is the armor of God.
The first one is the truth of where you are residing. Are you at 71 Blanche Lane or are you at the
right hand of God? Has God raised you there? If so, that is where you are and that is where your
spirit is. It seems to me it’s good to settle that. You either set your mind on the things of the
earth or you set your mind on the things above where Christ is seated at God’s right hand.
The righteousness is, “Am I in that position? Am I dressed like that? Am I clean and ready to go? Am
I living in the light of the fact that I am at his right hand? Is that where I am spiritually? Is my
mind set on those things? Is my will?” Just check on yourself.
We don’t normally think of doing this but it makes good sense. You know fine well that if you don’t
do that you just happen by chance thinking of this or that. You pass that house on the right and you
wonder if they are further on? Well that’s harmless in itself except that your mind tends to go on
in that way, stimulated by what you see. And often what you see is not really very helpful. I would
say that when you put things in order within by exercising your will over your thoughts, “by
bringing everything into captivity in Christ Jesus” I would say you are in shape to meet whatever
Most of all you are in shape to express Christ and to express the joy of God. And it seems to me
that’s part of what they did in the old monasteries. “This is the day that the Lord has made!” Then
you stood up and said, “We will rejoice and be glad in it!” We smile at it but it was good because
it settled the thing. It set a path for them. And it made them sources of life within rather than
sponges that just soaked in from the outside.
We are in the selling business and concerned with people and what they want. We are concerned in
what they would be interested in buying from us. But it seems to me you can do that safely if you
are fortified within. It’s like a capsule. Would you ever dream of throwing yourself out to space
without one of the space suits on? You’d prefer to be in the space capsule but if you weren’t in it
then you’d want to be in one of those space suits that protect you. But we throw ourselves gaily out
into space here on earth with no protection at all. I think it caught Mary’s imagination that
putting on the armor of God was like getting into a capsule or space suit to go out into the world.
It protects you.
Then there is the peace that God is able to enjoy at this moment despite the marathon situation in
Boston, despite the fact that there are all kinds of little ones dying, despite the fact that there
are all kinds of dreadful things being done to children and to other people. God is at peace himself
because he has already reconciled those things. It’s only a temporary situation where he himself is
giving them grace to bear the difficulties. And so he can rest in peace and he is able to give us
that peace and asks us to rest in that peace ourselves — the peace of Christ. Let the peace of
Christ rule our hearts. And it seems that’s important as you head out into a day.
If you say, “What about that financial thing I have to solve yet?” I would say leave that aside. God
will give you grace at the right time to think that through but let his peace rule your heart, the
peace that he has already dealt with that thing. That it’s already provided for. You may have to do
something about it but it will be something he will direct you in and will be something that is just
to please him – not in order to solve the problem. The problem is already solved. He doesn’t let you
face something that you have to sort out yourself. He always faces you with trials that already have
a way of deliverance. So peace is having that attitude. If you don’t have it you end up frazzled.
Because you barely sort out one thing when further along the road you’re hitting another thing. It’s
not long before there is confusion and a lack of peace in your heart.
It seems to me right from the beginning it’s important to put on the gospel of peace and to walk in
that with the shield of faith. I would say to ones like Greg and me who can be very quick to look at
the dark side that it’s always right to exercise faith. It’s never right for us to exercise just
sight. We’re just making trouble for ourselves. We are just walking straight into difficulty when we
say, “Well, the situation looks like this.”
No, it’s always right to exercise faith and say, “Father, you have all things under control. You
have promised to never leave me nor forsake me. You have said that you are working in all things for
good to those who love you. So Lord, I know you are working for good in this situation. And I have
my eyes upon you.” It’s always right to do that.
It’s always wrong to look at the problems of the situation visible to you. It’s always wrong. We
walk by faith and not by sight. If we walk by sight we have no power at all. We must walk by faith.
Do you mean the first thought of the day? The first thought is the dangerous one. You can’t help the
birds flying over your head but you can stop it building a nest in your hair. And it seems to me you
can’t stop thoughts of wrong or depression or sadness going over your head but the moment you think
of it then you own it and it becomes part of you.
It’s interesting that evil has to be invited in. It has to be allowed in. You are the owner of this
home. You belong to Christ and all things are under his feet. So it’s always right to exercise
faith. It’s always wrong to exercise the sight.
Salvation is the safety that comes from being in Jesus and that we are safe in his arms. There is a
place for singing about “the everlasting arms”. Isn’t that what praise does? The walls of Jericho
came down because they shouted in praise. We have difficulty understanding that the praise has to
precede the work. We want to see the walls come down and then we’ll praise him for bringing the
walls down. But it’s the other way around. When you praise, then the walls come down.
The sword of the spirit – whatever quiet time you’ve had it’s always good to look at the word of
God. It may only be a few verses that have hit you but you have them and you just think about them
as you are driving in the car.
It is interesting that though the armor is setting you up for aggression and action most of the
armor is defensive against the powers of the enemy. And most of your action is in here – the mind.
No, we want to be like a Martin Luther and nail up our 95 theses or haul the walls of Jericho down
ourselves. We do a few things but the main thing that we can do is this – (pointing to the board
listing the armor of God).
I noticed this morning that I was thinking again what I thought the previous night. I see you can
make it a work. You can make it heavy and a burden — “I have to pray!” Well, that kind of prayer
won’t do much. I think part of what is meant here is ejaculatory prayer – prayer that you throw up
to God. It’s says we are to pray always and that means walking in a spirit of prayer all the time.
Someone asked Andrew Murray why people didn’t pray. He baffled me with his answer. He said, because
of the flesh. Flesh in the Bible is independence of God. It’s because people don’t really believe in
God. They don’t pray because they don’t really believe that he’s there and able to do anything for
I thought it was good because we all like to piously say why we don’t pray. We don’t have the time,
we can’t get up early in the morning or we’re just not praying kind of people. We are reluctant
however to say that we don’t pray because we don’t believe God can do anything about it. We depend
on ourselves and it’s our own right arm that is going to achieve anything.
And so that’s why we don’t pray and it’s more honest to be straight about that. You don’t pray
because you don’t think you need to pray. And of course this is the heart of a person who believes
in God. A person who believes in God is a prayer – ones who is always praying. We pray when someone
is talking with us, as you go out of a store you send up an ejaculatory prayer to God out of the joy
in your heart and out of the love and concern for the person you just talked to.
Does that do any good? Without a doubt it does because it creates a whole atmosphere through the
Holy Spirit of God’s presence. It’s one human spirit seeking God’s spirit and lifting himself up
into his Spirit. That affects the spiritual atmosphere in that very area. And most of all it’s God
being free to act. Remember Watchman Nee’s statement, “God will not act against his own will and he
will not act apart from man’s will.”
I thought it was a good use of the prepositions. God will not act or cannot act against his own
will, but he will not act apart from man’s will. So it’s interesting the “will” and “can”. God could
of course; he is capable of acting apart from man’s will. But he will not and refuses to act apart
from man’s will. He cannot act against his own will. But even when he wills something he will not do
it apart from man’s will.
This is part of why Jesus says, “Stretch forth your hand”, and then I will heal you. If you won’t
stretch forth your hand then Jesus will not heal you. So of course whenever you send up an
ejaculatory prayer to God it frees him to do whatever he was going to do in that shop or in that
office situation. So it’s important to walk in that spirit of prayer.
I think it’s very practical. I don’t think it’s a mystical feeling. I think it’s just very
practical. “It’s true, it’s actual, everything is satisfactural. There’s a bluebird on my shoulder!”
I just think of the old black man in that Disney movie. He was sitting there and then the bird
flutters down and says, “It’s true, it’s actual, everything is satisfactual!” It’s like that. The
whole power of God is on your shoulder and your recognition of that enables him to work without
forcing man’s human will.
It is so important for us to see how vital that is in God’s mind. That is why he set out to die.
That’s why Jesus had to die. God was determined not to have robotic saints. He knew it would not be
possible to have robotic saints. It’s only possible to have robots that have no will at all. But the
moment he wanted children of his Son who could love him because they wanted to, then free will was
necessary. So free will is vital for his work here on earth. So we need to be praying always in the
I thought this was important. Let’s look at Ephesians 6:18 “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with
all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for
all the saints.” We usually overlook that supplication and don’t like too much the idea of it
because it emphases how poor and humble and lowly we are. But making supplication for all the saints
— the translation of the Greek is “imploring”. We implore for all the saints. That’s what God
needs. He needs to be able to express through us his deep concern for the people. He needs to be
able to bring to our hearts the seriousness and gravity and the love and compassion of his heart.
And that’s what supplication is. It’s imploring God because your heart breaks for this person.
God cannot act apart from us. He cannot create what is not there. He has put within us his own image
but we ourselves have to then express that image. And until we express it freely with our own will
he is not able to activate his. So it’s “imploring God”.
You get that idea when you read about people like George Mueller and David Brainerd. You wonder why
are they sweating it out in prayer? Then you realize that it’s because they feel this. They feel the
want that these people have and they want desperately that they will receive from God what they
I thought that about ourselves. We don’t need to make prayer a work but we do need to allow God’s
heart to express himself through us and to pray with real concern for the people. We might do our
duty by praying for this person and that person but we really don’t feel for them. God himself is
not a mechanical God like that.
It can sound a bit like God is mechanical when he says, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and
you shall find.” Then, because of our limited human minds we think, “Just say it”. Pop the penny in
and out comes the chocolate. But he’s saying, “I want you to express here on earth freely the
concern and compassion that I have for these people.”
Our prayers are to be ones of feeling, love and concern for the other people. How does that apply? I
think it applies when you deal with your customer in the store and you know they are going through
things. I think there is a place for expressing your own heart (whether you express it to them or
not) to God the compassion you feel for them.
It’s really natural isn’t it? If you are part of Jesus his heart is given to you and it’s just a
matter of being what we are. That’s what God means when he says to have that mind in you which you
have in Christ Jesus. You have it, but recognize it and express it. Prayer is to be that of feeling
and compassion for other people and is not just a mechanical thing.
So it seems to me there is content in your own inner being as the day goes through. There is life in
here. Remember at Garden Court the complex air system would make for areas of low pressure which
wasn’t good in the middle of Minnesota winters because it pooled the cold air into certain spots. So
it’s the same here. We can either have a low pressure here where everything outside flows in or you
can have a higher pressure here which enables you to give out. So it is a very different day to
tackle the day. Are you low pressure or high pressure?
Let us pray.
Will You let Christ Live in You? - EPHESIANS
Will You Let Christ Live in You
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Please turn to Ephesians 4:11-16 and I’ll elaborate on what I think God has to say to us today.
“And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and
teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we
all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to
the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” (That’s the subject of the message today, ‘to
the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’) “……so that we may no longer be children,
tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their
craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way
into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every
joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and up
builds itself in love.”
I think I’d like to get to business. I read you of course some of the funny things in the life of
Smith Wigglesworth but now I’ll go on to read you the serious part of this man.
“We have a wonderful God – God whose ways are past finding out and whose grace and power are
limitless. (Now this is one of his usual funny ones) I was in Belfast one day and saw one of the
brethren of the assembly. He said, ‘Wigglesworth I am troubled. I have had a good deal of sorrow
over the past five months. I had a woman in our assembly who could always pray the blessing of
Heaven down on our meetings. She is an old woman but her presence is always an inspiration. But five
months ago she fell and broke her thigh. The doctors put her into a plastic cast and after five
months they broke the cast. But the bones where not properly set and so she fell and broke the thigh
This man took me to her house and there was a woman lying on the bed at the right side of the room.
I said to her, Well, what about it now? And she said, ‘They have sent me home incurable. The doctors
say that I am so old that my bones won’t knit. There is no nutrients in my bones and they’ll never
do anything more for me. They say I shall have to lie in bed for the rest of my life.’
I said to her, Can you believe God? She replied, ‘Yes, ever since I heard that you had come to
Belfast my faith had been quickened. If you will pray I will believe. I know there is no power on
earth that can make the bones of my thigh knit. But I know that there is nothing impossible with
God.’ I said, Do you believe He will meet you now? And she replied, ‘I do.’
It is grand to see people believe God. God knew all about this leg and that it was broken in two
places. So, I said to the woman, when I pray something will happen. Now her husband was sitting
there and had been in his chair for four years. He could not walk a step. He called out, ‘I don’t
believe. I won’t believe. You will never get me to believe.’
I said, all right and laid my hands on his wife in the name of the Lord Jesus. The moment hands were
laid on her, the power of God went right through her and she cried out, ‘I’m healed!’ I said, I’m
not going to assist you to arise. God will do it all. She rose and walked up and down the room
The old man was amazed at what had happened to his wife and said, ‘Make me walk, make me walk!’ I
said to him, you old sinner, repent! Repent! He cried out, ‘Lord you know I never meant what I said.
You know I believe.’
I don’t believe he meant what he said but the Lord was full of compassion. If he marked our sins
where would any of us be? If we meet the conditions, God will always meet us. If we believe, all
things are possible. I laid my hands on him and the power went right through the old man’s body.
Those legs for the first time in four years received power to carry his body. He walked up and down,
in and out and said, ‘Oh what great things God has done with us tonight.’”
And Jesus says, “Whatsoever things you desire when you pray…..” We have a tendency to laugh at the
funny bits and say, “Boy I’d love to be able to do that. There is some trick to it. There is some
easy way in which I can get that faith. If I can rise up and have faith, that would happen to me.
I think God has given me real light about that. The funny bits are good but we sense that something
did happen. There are a lot of stories about his healings and we tend to think that Wigglesworth was
real. Whatever Pentecostalism was in him that puts us off he did see the power of God working. And I
must somehow get through to that. Maybe somehow I’ll get through to that. And I think that’s our
Now we are in our 60’s and you wonder how much time you have left to find out what the secret is? I
think it ties up with today’s verse. So will you start with today’s verse in Ephesians 6:19. Let
begin with verse 18, “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end
keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (and then verse 19) and
also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of
the gospel — to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.”
Then, you remember we looked up the mystery of the gospel in several places. One short one is
Colossians 1:27, “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the
glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” That’s the mystery of the gospel.
That’s what we talked in some sense about last Sunday.
This is the mystery and the real gospel that is not preached. What is preached is that Christ died
for your sins and you can have forgiveness and you can be forgiven by God and get into Heaven.
That’s the gospel that is preached. The real gospel is the mystery that Christ is in you.
We talked at some length last Sunday that that’s what men and women need to know. They are here so
that Christ, the son of our Maker, can live in them a life that he will live in nobody else. And I
agree with you that they know in some sense that Jesus comes in because they sing, “Come into my
heart, come into my heart, come into my heart Lord Jesus.” But they are very vague on it. And even
as we sing that verse I’m sure most are thinking that’s the mystery of the gospel. It’s a sign that
God has forgiven us if Jesus comes into our hearts. So we’re asking him to come in by his Spirit so
that we are sure that we are forgiven of our sins. That’s what we talked in some sense about last
If you say to me, do you mean that there is no sense that Christ is in us at all? I’d put it to you.
The secret to a successful Christian life at least three years ago and probably the one that is
accepted today is “What would Jesus do?” That’s about it. I think I’m right in saying that. It’s
about what they mean by Jesus coming into your heart.
Do what Jesus would do. Think about what Jesus would do and then if you do that, that’s what you are
here to do. With your sins forgiven, you should try to do what Jesus would do and then that’s it. It
seems to me we have not taken seriously the many places in the Bible where Paul does talk about what
we read there about rising up into the fullness of the stature of Christ.
We want to be as good as Jesus but we have little sense of the whole of those verses that we read a
few minutes ago in Ephesians. We are part of the body of Christ and you are to rise up into the
fullness of that body in which you dwell. In other words, you are part of Jesus and he says we are
to rise up into the fullness of Jesus.
Of course it’s mentioned in other places such as Ephesians 4:11-16 and then I think Colossians
1:19 is very definite. “For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” In Jesus all the
fullness of God was pleased to dwell. And we are encouraged to rise up into the fullness of his
Then there’s the verse where Paul exhorts us to rise up into the fullness that Christ may be formed
in you. It’s Galatians 4:19 and seems very definite in what he is saying there. “My little children,
with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you!”
How did Smith Wigglesworth get into the fullness of the stature of Christ? Here are his own words.
“At one time I was so bound that no human power could help me. My wife was looking for me to pass
away. There was no help. At that time I just had a faint glimpse of Jesus as the healer. For six
months I had been suffering from appendicitis and occasionally getting temporary relief. I went to
the mission of which I was pastor but I was brought to the floor in awful agony and so they brought
me home to my bed. All night I was praying and pleading for deliverance but none came.
My wife was sure it was my home call and sent for a physician. He said that there was no possible
chance for me because my body was too weak. Having had the appendicitis for six months my whole
system was drained and because of that he thought it was too late for an operation. He left my wife
in a state of broken heartedness. After he left, there came to our door a young man and an old lady.
I knew that she was a woman of real prayer. They came upstairs to my room.
This young man jumped on the bed and commanded the evil spirit to come out of me. He shouted, “Come
out you devil! I command you to come out in the name of Jesus!” There was no chance for an argument
or for me to tell him that I would never believe that there was a devil inside of me. The thing had
to go in the name of Jesus and it went! And I was instantly healed. I arose and dressed and went
downstairs. I was still in the plumbing business and I asked my wife, if there was any work in. I’m
alright now and I’m going to work. I found that there was a certain job to be done and I picked up
my tools and went off to do it.
Just after I left, the doctor came in, put his hat in the hall and walked up to the bedroom. ‘Where
is Mr. Wigglesworth?’ ‘He’s gone off to work’, says my wife. ‘You’ll never see him alive again’ said
the doctor. ‘They will bring him back a corpse.’ Well, I’m the corpse!”
What came home to me was it wasn’t as easy as it looked. He didn’t get to the place of certainty
easily. God brought him through some things so that he could come up into the fullness of the
stature of his son. We tend to think, no, he was an extrovert. He had this Pentecostal experience
and somehow that brought the power of God down. God gave him the power at that time for that
particular ministry and it suited him.
It wasn’t so. The guy obviously came up the hard way. The issue is not whether you believe that
Jesus is inside you and you are inside of Jesus and therefore because of that you will be able to
lay your hands on somebody and they will be healed. The issue is — are you letting Jesus run your
life? Are you letting Jesus actually do the things he wants to do with your hands and the things he
wants to do with your time? And we say, generally to ourselves, there we’re doing our best to do
that. We’re trying the best we can to bring our time into order.
But, it’s not your time. It’s not you that has to bring it into order. It’s Jesus’ time. Are you
letting Jesus spend the time he has in your life doing things the way he wants to. Are you letting
him do the things? But we keep saying, “I’m going to get to that thing. I know I have to come into
line. I know my life has to become disciplined. I’m getting to that. I will get to it.”
Is this your life to run or is it Jesus’ life? Is it yours to do your best to pass onto it the
instructions that he gives, filtering them through your mind, so that you give to it only the things
you know without a lot of trouble?
The issue is, are you letting Jesus inside you live the life he wants to live? I think that’s what
the guy came into through a lot of hardships and struggles. He allowed Jesus to be fully formed in
him. And as Jesus is fully formed then he stretches out his hand whenever he wishes. And if it’s me
stretching out my hand, I’m almost not conscience of it. It’s what Jesus wants to do and it’s his
hand. So Christ himself does the work and what he says is right – all we do need is simply faith.
God will do what we command if it is not “I that live but Christ that lives in me giving the
I think God is in process of trying to get us to let his son live — to take a couple of breaths in
the midst of all the breaths that we take. Our Father is patiently, mercifully giving us the chance
to let his son breathe – to let his son rise from the dead in us. And then, if we do that, his Son
will do the works that his Father has given him to do. You remember he says, “I’ll work and my
Father works. You work and I also work. Work out that which God is working into you.” I think that’s
I don’t think it some magical thing where you wish you had that experience that Wigglesworth had.
But we don’t quite believe that. We don’t quite believe that Pentecostal way. We think that
Wigglesworth came into it for some other reason – he was an extrovert character or because God had
that kind of work to do in that time when there was no medical insurance or some other reason that
we give for ourselves.
But the reason it doesn’t happen with us is because we won’t let the man out! We won’t. We won’t let
Jesus out! We keep him bound in those grave clothes while we do our thing and run our lives. We
aren’t that conscience of Him inside. We’re really not. We are in no doubt that this is our life and
we’ve written off as poetic exaggeration that Jesus is in us.
We are missing the whole point of our existence. Our job is to take the host around. And wherever we
meet a person the host is within us. The bread of life is within us. The Christ of God is in us. Our
job is just to carry the host around the way the priests in the Catholic Church did. But I think we
don’t see ourselves in that way and we don’t yield ourselves to that end – to rise up into the
fullness of the stature of Christ, to let Christ be fully formed in us. We don’t have quiet talks
with Him. Lord, why are you not filling me? Where do “I” take control? Where am I ignoring things
that you want to do? Where am I binding your hands? Where am I — and you just go on a little and
you get to the cross – where am I nailing you to the cross in my life so that you cannot move?
I think that’s it. It was real light for me. God led me to this book (on Smith Wigglesworth) in the
library when I was thinking how could I make that clear? And it became clear to me by Wigglesworth’s
life. That was the explanation. He had risen up into the fullness of the stature of Christ and we
It wasn’t at all that he was Pentecostal or an extrovert or an uneducated plumber and so God had to
help him. It’s simply that he went through the agonies in his own life until he realized that “I
dare not do a thing unless the Savior inside of me wants to do it.”
I think that’s what we are here for and that’s why God has us together. I think it will be
dastardly if we keep on doing this until we die. God has brought us here so that his Son could be
fully formed in us and do the work that he wanted to do. You know fine well what I’m talking about
when I say, “Do we think of this body as his hands?” In a distant way we do. But when it comes to
this afternoon do we say to the Savior, “What would you like to do?” Do I say to the Savior, “What
would you like to do?” I think that’s it and it’s that simple.
So we’re here, you’re here; you personally are here so that Christ, the Son of our Maker can live
the life in you that he has planned. That’s why you’re here. Sure you’re here to be his wife, you’re
here to be his husband and you’re here to be my friend – but above everything else we are here to be
a carrier or Christ who has a life that he wants to live through us. And when we begin to live that
life healings won’t be a difficulty. They will be a small thing. The sales will blast and the money
will come. God will be faithful to his promise, “Ask anything in my name, and I’ll give it to you.”
You’ll ask for $5000 in sales and he’ll give it to you, but not if it will take you into more
indifference to him. Then he won’t because he wants you most of all. He wants you as his child. He
wants you as the expression of his dear Son. And he will work upon you to that end. Let us pray.
God’s Steadfast Love - EPHESIANS
God’s Steadfast Love
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
This is a rare moment when we come to the end of a book and we are at that with Ephesians 6. Let’s
look at Ephesians 6:23, “Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the
Lord Jesus Christ.” I think it is the subjunctive tense in that verse and so it would be, “May peace
be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
And so it is a prayer or a wish stated by Paul. “May there be peace to the brethren and love with
faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” I am surprised how God is constantly bringing
those things home to us. The prayer is a good prayer and is constantly answered in our lives —
peace and love with faith.
Peace about everything came to me in an incidental way when I began to think through this whole
business of predestination and especially statements like, “Before a word is on your lips, lo I know
it altogether.” And when I saw that every day of my life has been written in his book it struck me,
you mean that person saying that sarcastic thing to me — you knew that would happen? Why did you
let such a thing happen? Or why did you let such a thing happen as the drive shaft going out on this
car? Or why did you let such a thing happen as me losing my money at this time when I most need it?
It gradually dawned on me, that God did it and he might even have caused it. After all he is the
sovereign Lord of the whole universe. You can’t say they chance caused it. Surely he knew about it
and therefore willed it. And if he willed it, he must have a purpose for it. And if he has a purpose
for it he must be able to bring me into that purpose and reveal it to me.
And that strangely enough brought a peace to me. It brought a sense that God had foreseen not only
all the good things that have happened but all the bad things. I don’t know how much you know about
the whole Armenian , Calvin controversy. The Armenians emphasize the human part of salvation whereas
Calvin emphasizes the sovereign God’s part. When you are on the Armenian side you have to deal with
predestination in some way. So you say God foreknew. He would never make a Hitler. He would never
make someone suffer. We have difficulty with the verse, “that it pleased the Lord to bruise him” but
we brought the permissive will of God into the picture.
But peace began to dawn upon me when I began to see how maybe they are right. Maybe it’s not right
to make the distinction between permitted will and ideal will. That is probably a bit unreal. If God
permits it then he wills it. It was then that I began to see, God’s whole goal for us is that we
would become free will children – children who are free to love him or free to reject him. If we
were not free will children then we were in some way little robots or protected creature that he had
created. We therefore had no choice in the matter. Therefore in a strange way we could NOT love him.
In order to love you have to be free to love or hate. Love is a choice of the will. It began to dawn
on me that God knew all this. He saw that he had to provide a clear choice for us and a clear view
of what life without him was like.
In a way he had to make nothingness. If there is God then there is something that isn’t God. And he
had to be prepared for that to exist in some sense. Therefore in a real way he is behind everything.
If there is God then there is something that isn’t God. And he had to be prepared for that to exist
in some sense. Therefore in a real way he is behind everything. It’s like when the Old Testament
people would say, that God sent a mighty wind or God did this or God did that. But we would always
interpret it that it didn’t really mean that God did it but it’s just the activity of the creation.
Of course if God isn’t in charge of creation then who is? We had better find out who is. Maybe we
had better all start to go to Las Vegas because it’s chance. So you know it began to come clear to
me that our dear Father wants so much to have children like his own son that he is prepared to
provide for us to see what nothingness is. And therefore if we’re going to have any chance of life
he had to put us in a place that could survive that choice. And he chose his son. He put us in his
son and made us in his son. Only his son could bear that nothingness and live. And that’s what is
happening in our lives.
It’s strange that it brought a peace to me that we were not dealing with a wild, evil thing out
there that had its own will and that was outside of God’s control. But that in a real way, all of it
was due to his desire for us to have nothingness or him – to have a real choice and be able to
choose him and therefore be able to love him. So, God’s will is for us all to come into peace, into
real deep peace about all that is happening in our lives.
It affected the way I began to see things in my own life. I stopped resenting them. I stopped
worrying about them. The moment I saw anxiety, I knew there was no sense in that because the Father
has this under control. He has a purpose for it. He will bring you through it. Most importantly if
he knew it was going to happen, if he made it happen, then he made the antidote. He made what will
counteract it and what will bring it all into accordance with his will.
And so it brings a great sense of ease. I always saw it that you were going from there to there and
this terrible mistake was the detour. And that detour was all wasted time. Instead, God knew and
allowed it so that you would rest there in things that didn’t seem to be under his control and have
real faith in him that he would bring us back into line.
And so when Paul says, “Let peace be in the brethren” he meant that God is working to bring that
about in their life every day. God is working to bring peace in you – a deep sense that everything
has been reconciled and works accordance to the counsel of his will and that everything does work
together for good to those who love God.
So this peace that is mentioned in this kind of benediction is remarkable. That’s what God is doing
in our lives and he’s bringing the answer to these things much the same way as love.
I don’t know where you are with love but certainly love for many of us is something we distribute
according to our own wishes, likes, or dislikes. And it’s a slow process if you look at your
attitude to each other even through these years. It’s a slow process by which God gradually makes
you aware not only of his love but of how much others need to experience that love through you and
how much of God’s generous, merciful love he wants to express through you to people who are not
naturally people you would like or have affections for. It seems to me God has a way of working love
I suppose both Irene and I see how as the years go by you do mellow and see things in a more
balanced way. It seems to me that God is always working to bring that into us. And that’s why he
also allows us to come into touch with people who are not naturally our choice, not naturally our
associates or like us. But God allows that to come.
I could not believe His love for me as the years went by. We sing, “Oh love that will not let me
go…” But as the years go by you are set back on your heels by how he continues to be merciful to us.
God brings this benediction into your life whether you know it or not and whether you want it or
not. He brings it into your life, he brings love in.
Sometimes it comes to you through a revelation of scripture and sometimes through the events that
take place such as I described. But it was through revelation of scripture that it came to me. I’d
seen the verse so often but it startled me the same as the verse in Lamentations that says, “The
steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end.” I did a double take
because I had not seen those words “never ceases” – NEVER CEASES! And all my concern about hell came
up because I am the guardian of hell as are all evangelicals.
No protestant liked purgatory but it made you wonder that maybe the old guys weren’t so stupid.
Certainly it is something deeper than we can understand. The steadfast love of the Lord NEVER
ceases. I think Barth was pretty close to wondering about the whole thing of eternal punishment.
And you certainly have to give credence to a verse like “the steadfast love of the Lord never
It brought to me a sense of his everlasting and merciful love. A picture of Jesus comes to you. To
think of the Father looking upon his son being treated that way and not only looking upon him but
knowing what would come about. Not only would that come about but that he in some way would bring it
about. That it pleased the Lord to bruise him — not in the sense that he delighted in torturing
his son but he was willing for that to take place if that was the only way he could bring us into
the same reality that his son was.
So God has different ways of bringing us all into real love and into real peace. Then he says, and
love with faith because you can love a person, you can love the people we have prayed for but the
work will only be done by faith, by our confidence in God that He alone can do it. And I think
that’s the key to what we are involved in with praying for the world at this present time, in
praying for our loved ones and friends, in praying for our business associates — that it’s love
with faith. Without faith it is not only impossible to please God but it’s impossible for anyone to
come to God. And so it’s vital for us to see with all our talk and with all our witnessing which is
important – the only thing that will move their hearts is God himself and that depends on our faith
And that’s why he brings us into situations where we have disease that we cannot deal with – a
sickness, a pain, a weakness in our bodies or in our minds that we cannot cure ourselves. Or we come
into business situations also or relationships where we see that only faith in God can bring this
In a real way the benediction is fulfilled in our lives in a way that we don’t realize. But there is
coming into us peace and love with faith in God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. And that’s the
wonder of it that God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ are working on this every moment. Every
second they are both looking down on each one of us and they have peace and love and faith to impart
to us the moment we open ourselves to them and they will bring that about. They will bring into us
love and faith and peace and that’s the purpose of our lives. Let us pray.
God’s Undying Love - EPHESIANS
God’s Undying Love
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
We are on the last verse in Ephesians – a big moment. It’s a very simple verse – Ephesians 6:24.
“Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love undying.” Grace is God’s undeserved
favor. That’s one meaning of it. And the other meaning is the power of the Holy Spirit. So in a way
it’s both – Grace be with you –i.e. God’s undeserved favor and the power of the Holy Spirit be with
Then….”All who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love undying – it’s immortal, genuine love. It’s
endless love and also genuine love. So it’s not a bad translation that the RSV has, “love undying.”
So, grace, the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s favor be with all who love the Lord Jesus with
love undying. And it’s the love side that I’d like to remind you of now.
We’ve been 27 years in Raleigh and 17 in Minneapolis and of course you know how long we’ve been here
in London. So we’ve been at this Ephesians for a long time. The big thing it brought home to me was
the eternity side of things. We have a hard time getting our heads around the fact that everything
is one great eternal moment. God has just broken it up into months and days and years for us. It is
a slow playback of a great moment and that’s what we are seeing.
When we get into eternity we’ll find that it’s one continual eternal moment. And that’s been a
difficult one to get our minds around in Ephesians. The Greek is very complex and the terminology is
At the time of the gas chambers in Germany there was a little boy around 4 years and the girl (his
sister) was maybe 10 or 11 years. A German soldier was taking care of them and he couldn’t die
without telling it to somebody. He was about to separate them because they killed the men and the
women separately. When he went for the little guy, his sister says, “Leave him alone. My precious
brother will die with me.” It’s heart breaking and so they marched to the gas chambers.
precious brother will die with me.” It’s heart breaking and so they marched to the gas chambers.
Now here’s the bit I think that we don’t grasp. We don’t grasp exactly where that took place. Even
though you are touched by my tears and we are sad about it we really don’t see it as it is. That’s
because we have difficulty getting hold of Ephesians. If you go back to the first chapter you almost
think Paul is getting his Greek tenses mixed up a bit. He starts of in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual
blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that
we should holy and blameless before him.”
How could you choose us before the foundation of the world? How could you do that? He destined us in
love to be his sons through Jesus Christ. How could God destine us before we were even born?
“…..according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely
bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption.” How could you talk about all that as if
And then he goes on in verse 9, “For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery
of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of
time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven, and things on earth.” How could he do that? How
could he foresee all that?
So, I think you really have to verge into what is dangerous territory. Some people would say it’s
almost blasphemous. What would you do if you were God and you wanted to have others like your son
Jesus who were free to love you? How would you bring that about?
What if you were not only God but if there was nothing else but you? If you think of that it creeps
up on you from behind. You say, “Yes, there can’t be anything but Him. If there is, we could have a
battle of worlds if there’s somebody out there that’s as powerful as God. But there is only God.
What is there besides God? Nothing! There’s nothing. You mean there is no love? No. You mean there
is no mercy? No. You mean there is no beauty? No. You mean there is no kindness? No. There is
How do you get beings who will love you because they want to? You’ve got no alternative. How will
you end up with them loving you or having a will that can choose to love you — as opposed to loving
nothingness? Now that is difficult and I think that’s what our Father faced. He had to find some way
whereby we would see the difference between him and nothingness. He had to find some way where we
would see what beauty was rather than ugliness and what love was instead of hatred.
Unless we were able to see an alternative we didn’t have a choice. All we could do was be what he
made us to be. And God faced a group of little creatures that couldn’t do anything that he didn’t
want them to. And so he was faced with having toy soldiers that he could play around with but not
anyone that he could have real relationships with.
It seems to me in that situation our Father had to himself experience what it would be like for him
not to exist. He had to experience what anything would be like that was not like him. He had to
create the possibility of nothingness and to allow these people that he wanted to make in his own
image to experience nothingness. He had to allow them to see what ugliness was so that they might
know what beauty was. They had to see what hatred was so that they would know what love was and then
they would be able to make a choice.
I think our dear Father knew that if he ever created anything that was nothing it would not exist
unless he created it inside himself — unless his own beloved Son would allow him to make these
things inside him. And that’s what it says, “in him all things were made and all things were made
through him.” In John it says, “Without him was not anything made that was made.” And indeed, all
things hang together inside of him. Even the evil things hang together only because they are inside
of Him, because he himself has eternal life.
The only way God could create nothing that would exist is if he made it inside his own son who had
eternal life. And so everything that has taken place from the very beginning has taken place through
his permission and in a strange way by his will. It’s taken place inside his own son.
We evangelicals like to think that there is Jesus and then there is this evil world out there. There
is Jesus and in him all things hold together. And he has allowed things to be made inside him and he
bears everything. He bears their sins. He bears their nothingness. He bears the little guy in the
gas chamber. He bears him. He bears the German soldier that wanted to separate them. He bears the
hatred in the German soldier. He feels that. He is touched by our infirmities.
From our tiny perspective we cannot believe that he can touch the fellow with the mustache. Hitler
was made inside of Jesus. He bore Hitler inside himself. He bears inside himself me when I’m making
a sarcastic remark to my dear girl and then he bears that in her. So the whole thing is wrought
inside of Christ and God has indeed destined us all to be our Father’s sons – part of his son. And
that’s the situation.
Every time you are harsh with one of us the Savior feels that inside of himself. Otherwise you
wouldn’t continue to exist. That’s because there is no existence outside of God. There is
nothingness. The only reason you continue to exist is because you are inside Jesus and everything
you do is done inside him. And that’s why this verse is so important – to love Him with an undying
love. That is what he has done endlessly with us.
Think it through for yourself. It seems to me you end up touching something of the deep truth in
Ephesians. There is something in the simple fact – that everything that takes place is born by our
dear Father. Our Father is not one who creates a bunch of people and then let’s them tear each other
apart while he looks through binoculars at a distance. He is not that kind of God. He makes us
inside of himself so that he is touched by every bit of evil. He knows it and understands it and
feels it long before even we do.
I cannot believe that anyone would make themselves nothingness because of love. Who would allow
himself to be filled with all that he doesn’t want — with all that hurts him deeply? I sure
wouldn’t do that. But that’s what He’s done. So everything we do and are feeling has already been
sorted out by our Father. He’s already sorted the flat tire out. He’s already sorted out the bank
account. He’s already sorted out the strain you have with the customer. He’s already done all that.
But he bears your restlessness and your strain and stress. He bears it in himself.
We all know something about moments of danger, and crisis or in hospital situations how you feel a
remarkable quiet and peace during that time. We’ve all been in accidents where we actually don’t
know what’s happened. We are not absolutely clear or conscious of the second.
Dan knows this from a guy that pulled out in front of him on his motorbike. He was suddenly on the
“other side” and didn’t know how he got there. We’ve all had moments like that. It’s the same with
dreadful pain. You feel that someone else must be bearing this pain. You feel a tinge but not all
that you thought it would be. It’s the same as going into surgery or anything like that. It’s just
barely a second of awareness and then it all just goes very quickly.
The little 5 year old guy was out before he knew it. The gas hit Jesus because Christ bears the main
brunt of things and that’s what our Father has lovingly done. He has given us free will and even
created the possibility that we would do certain things. But he himself bears the main pain. And he
allows a little to filter through his fingers to us. I think that’s the reality and what that verse
“Grace be to you – the undeserved favor of our Father –and the ability of his Holy Spirit be with
all of you who love Christ with an undying love because there is nothing alive outside of him at
all. There are some kindly hopes for your moms and dads and all the kindly people who have gone
before us. They have in some way died in Christ. I know according to the formula they should have no
rights. But certainly God has not washed his hands of them. He has not washed his hands of us and he
himself is after something more than you wear a black hat and I wear a white hat.
It’s worth thinking about when you and I are doing or thinking of something that we know you
shouldn’t, it’s relevant to reflect that God feels it too — Jesus feels it. I’ve thought often when
I get into moments of strain or stress – am I causing Jesus strain and stress? Am I wearing him out
with my silly little worries? When I know he has not simply born the strain and stress of that but
he has solved the thing. He has actually solved it. He faces the problem, solves it and then bears
our strain and stress as we worry about the problem.
So I think it’s important to realize what a dear Savior that we have. Let us pray.
What Jesus’ Victory Means to Us - EPHESIANS
What Jesus’ Victory Means to Us
Sermon transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The whole Palm Sunday is so plain to us in our day because we’ve seen so much outward show and so
much empty talk about God and about Christ that we can see that the Palm Sunday is in a way part of
that. You remember that the Jews were always thinking of deliverance from their oppressors, they
were so often either under the Assyrian or under the Babylonians or under the Romans and later on
under the Greeks. They were always oppressed by some other people.
So as the whole vision of the messiah began to take hold in their national consciousness they all
tied it up with deliverance from the oppressor. It was almost impossible for them to see it any
other way. Just as they had a very vague idea of heaven and of the hereafter, so they had a very
vague notion of the messiah and always tied it to a conquering general who would come and deliver
them from the yoke of in this case the Romans.
So when Jesus came of course they recognized his power and his wisdom and they recognized that he
was somebody that was different but they were of course preoccupied with their own vision of what he
should be and they were determined to make him that if they possibly could. That’s of course what
lies behind the entry into Jerusalem and to Palm Sunday. It’s them making another more obvious
attempt to get him to proclaim himself the King of Israel, to proclaim himself the deliverer who
would free them from the yoke of the Roman rule.
Jesus really by God’s wisdom and will went so far with them. Probably to let us all see that that
was not the truth and was not the reason for his life. In fact that would never bring anything but
death and destruction. So he allowed them to put him on the donkey of all things and to ride into
Jerusalem and of course they used the palm trees and tried to proclaim that he was the coming
deliverer. You can see how it all kind of fizzled out really. Immediately after it he made it very
clear that he had come to die and not to be crowned king of Israel at all.
So that whole idea of Christ triumphing in this physical world in some military or economic way was
put to sleep and remained asleep. Rose again you remember with Judas Maccabeus and there was a
period there in the first century where he attempted to lead the Jews in rebellion against the Roman
yoke. And from time to time it would crop up but really it died on the day in Jerusalem there.
So the idea of Christ bringing victory in that way really was put thoroughly to sleep at his death
even despite his resurrection because he came and for 40 days was seen as we know here and there but
mostly by his own followers except that time when above 500 people at once saw him. But he made no
move during the days of resurrection to bring physical deliverance from the Roman yoke.
The reason is that in fact he is the conqueror. That is fulfilled if you would like to look at it
in verses that we’ve often talked about in Ephesians. I encouraged you to memorize them and to
memorize them myself so that I would be able to bring them to my own mind in prayer. Of course it
begins at verse 15 of Ephesians 1 you remember. Ephesians 1:15, “For this reason, because I have
heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give
thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,” my prayers “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of glory, may give you” and this is what Paul prayed for them and obviously what we
should pray for Trish and for each other, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of
glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him.”
That’s what we each need most of all. There are things that we can not see and that we do not
understand and only God can give us that spirit of wisdom and revelation in our knowledge of him.
We can share with each other as we often do, little things about God and little insights we have and
little lights we get from books and little quotations that we can appreciate and many of them are
very good and some of them we actually receive by revelation as the other person says it. We say,
“Yeah that’s right, that’s true.” That is of course God giving us a spirit of wisdom at that
More often than not we gabble away to each other, telling each other all kinds of very wise worthy
things and very true things but really they’re second hand to each of us. They are passed on by one
of us to the other and sometimes they become first hand revelation as we dwell upon them or think
upon them or we go up to our rooms or we’re driving in the car and God gives us a revelation. But
many times they’re just things that are true enough but don’t come right from the heart of God to us
and therefore we don’t see them through his eyes. What we need is a spirit of wisdom and revelation
in our knowledge of him.
That’s the most precious thing we can pray and yearn for each other and that’s what he does. “Pray
that God may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes
of your hearts enlightened.” And it’s the inside of us that needs to see these things deep down
inside. “Having the eyes of our hearts enlightened,” having our spiritual perception enlightened,
lit up to see. All of us know those moments, we know moments when we see something and we have
never seen it before or we have never seen it as clearly before. And we see it and we know that is
from God, that’s light from him to me and that’s having the eyes of our hearts enlightened.
“That you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.” That you may know what is the hope
to which he has called you and I’d just like to mention to you again the words that spring up there
that are used in another phrase. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” and that’s the hope to which we
are called. We’re called to Christ in us and it came home to me that’s it. Christ is actually in
me and at the moment of death he will be more fully formed in me and he will lift me up where he
will be the one that is seen though he’ll have my face. And I will be aware that I am being lifted
up but I’ll be lifted up as part of him and then in heaven I will be another version of him and we
will all see Christ as he really is.
This little nail of his, we will all see it and there it’ll have “MP” (initials for Martin Poehler)
on it and this little piece of skin here we’ll see Christ and it will have “CD” (Colleen Donahue) on
it and it will be you and me. It will be you and me but we’ll be seen as Christ. We’ll be part of
the great son of God. That is our hope. Our hope is not just our little selves getting into a
little corner somewhere in heaven. Our great hope is that we will be part of him and he in us will
begin to work with what you know now with our new telescopes. We don’t talk about millions we talk
about billions of solar systems, millions of planets. We talk about a whole universe that is far
more vast than we have even guessed it to be.
The hope of glory is the hope that God has planted in our hearts, Christ bursting out through us as
on the Mount of Transfiguration where they saw him almost illuminated. And Christ will burst
through us and it will be each one of us. It will be each one of us but we’ll all be part of him
and he’ll be seen in all his fullness. And that’s why you were created in him and I was created in
him because we are an integral part of him. We are a vital part of him; we are a part of him that
nobody else is. We are in that sense a bit of God. We are you’re right, derived from him. It is
because he lived that we live also but the hope of glory, that is it, that we will come up into
eternal life as part of him and therefore solid.
Our place is unbelievably solid; our place in this universe is unbelievably solid. I should not use
unbelievably, everybody is using unbelievably and I think well if it’s unbelievable we shouldn’t, we
can’t believe it. So it’s a silly word to use but our place in him is solid. We have been created
in him by God’s will. We exist because he exists. We will be in heaven as part of him. If he
loses you he loses a bit of himself. That’s how he feels, that’s how he thinks about it.
“I in you and you in me, Father you have given me these people and I will lose none of them.” So
you are not an add-on, we’re not add-ons. “Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened that you may
know what is the hope to which he has called you.” And then “What are the riches of his glorious
inheritance in the saints,” and his glorious inheritance in the saints partly is Christ in us.
Christ in us, that’s part of the riches of his glorious inheritance and he wants us to have the eyes
of our hearts enlightened so that we may know not only the hope to which we are called but what are
at this present moment in this present life “what are the riches of his glorious inheritance,” what
are the powers and riches of Christ within us.
And in verse 19, “What is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe.” And that is
the triumph of Christ. That Christ himself is alive at God’s right hand and through his spirit is
alive in each one of us and all the power that he has is in us at this moment, all the power. He
may choose to walk in that power with people spitting on him. He may choose you to walk down a bit
of the Calvary road but the power will be there. The power will be there for you to walk as he
walked triumphant in your heart and content with what you’re facing.
He may choose that or he may choose to express it through his risen body leaving the grave clothes
and appearing so real in the garden that Mary thought that he must be the gardener. So he may
choose in you to bring obvious open plain triumph that the world can see but the power will be
within you all the time whether he manifests it one way or the other. He may manifest it as hanging
on the cross with a soldier sticking a spear into his side and the blood and water pouring out but
the power will be within you to bear that and to walk in victory and in quiet peace and confidence
Or he may through you say “Into thy hands Father I commend my spirit.” And in complete peace and
serenity you may go. Or you may go like Eric Little, concerned because the tumor of his brain had
brought him into mental confusion and he perhaps thought in some way I’m not walking in inner
victory at this moment but inside him is still the immeasurable greatness of God’s power to give him
grace to walk through that.
So that’s the triumph of Christ, not the outward walking of the palm branches obviously being thrown
at his feet and the great crowds elevating him and exalting but him at the right hand of God
continuing to live in each of us and impart to us the power that he has. That’s why it goes on in
verse 20 the “greatness of his power in us who believe” in verse 19, “according to the working of
his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at
his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and
above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has
put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his
body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
Of course the church that’s what we are, his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. And
what is the truth of it? The truth is what we’ve shared with each other often. I was saying to
Marty yesterday I’ve looked at a wave at times down there in Florida. Looked at a wave as it curls
over, it’s just gone in a moment, you know how they crest and then they break. And I thought how
many atoms are in that wave? How many infinitesimal protons and neutrons are in that wave? And
then how do they all mix up just right to break like that? And then to disappear and to flow back
into the sea and then another one come up? I wonder have those to be controlled those billions and
billions of protons and neutrons. I suppose they have. I mean how could they form themselves into
that shape and tumble over each other and then flatten down and recede. Nobody, nobody could keep
track of every proton in that wave. And then I thought well if nobody does it how does it happen?
He couldn’t count all those things and then I thought of course he could. Of course! But keep on
doing it every day and every ocean and every planet? That’s what he does.
So does he know what you’re going to do next week? Oh, maybe, maybe. So that’s it. That’s the
triumph of Jesus. He sits at God’s right hand and all things have been put under his feet and he
has already seen everything that you’ll do next week. And he has already reconciled it to his
Father’s will. He has already worked all things according to the council of his will. You’re not
going out there to meet something that you don’t know. It’s all planned.
And it’s all been reconciled, Christ has done it. That’s what happened in Christ’s death when the
world was crucified in him, your little world was crucified in him, my little world, our little
series of actions that we have done in our lives so far and that we will do, the rest of it, that’s
all been crucified in him and raised up and made new and has been reconciled to God. God has
reconciled the world to himself. That’s the triumph for us. Palm Sunday for us is every day, every
day it is the triumph of Jesus. So you remember there is that verse that we will be always led in
triumph in Christ Jesus. God will lead us always in triumph in Christ Jesus. That is the real
victory and that is the real triumph. That’s our privilege. Let us pray.