New ( TMP ): " Track My Progress "- Register & Login
Forgiveness - REVIVAL
Communion: ForgivenessSermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillThe problem is what you and I in our generation think is forgiveness of sins. We don’t see forgiveness as it really is and like so many things in our world, we’re losing touch with reality because we’re losing a sense of what truths really are. So all of us probably suffer from a total misconception of what forgiveness is. Let me give you an example that we’ll all know immediately and will sympathize with. You have a roommate or you have a husband or a wife or a friend, someone who lives with you, and one day they just burst out in a show of bad temper and criticize you and tear you apart. So there’s coolness between you for the next couple of days and they come to you and say “I’m sorry, forgive me.” You of course want the relationship to be right and you forgive them. It goes on like that for a week or two weeks and then once more they burst out in a show of temper and they tear you apart and they criticize you and there’s coolness between you for the next two days. And they come again and say “I’m sorry, will you forgive me.” And you say “Yes, I will” because you want the relationship. It’s a little harder this time because you forgave them last time and it was right from your end but it didn’t seem to give them any ability to stay right with you. But you still say “I forgive you.” It goes alright for another two weeks and they burst out again in bad temper and they criticize you and they tear you apart and there’s coolness for the next two days. Then they come to you and they say “I’ sorry, will you forgive me?” Well you don’t know what to do; you just don’t know what to do.We’ve all been in the same boat; of course we want to forgive them because we want things to be right between us as they used to be. But we begin to wonder in our minds is this forgiveness? I forgive him or her but what use is it if our relationship is going to continue going through these agonizing crises? Isn’t there something inside your heart that says “I want to forgive them, but I want a relationship. I want a relationship of love. I want a relationship that is continuous. I want a relationship of peace. I want a good friend here whom I feel I can really trust. It seems to me that there’s something that needs to be done in their heart that will enable them to walk free from this bad temper otherwise it doesn’t matter how often I forgive them; our relationship is going to be like that.”And gradually you must admit in your own heart you begin to sense that your relationship is going to sink to a superficial level because bit by bit you’re going to feel in your heart that it doesn’t matter how often you forgive these people because any minute they could burst out against you again. And whatever you say, deep down in your heart, even though you want to forgive them and you do forgive them, deep down in your heart there’s a growing uneasiness. There’s a feeling inside you that this relationship is not very intimate, it’s not very trustworthy and it’s not very dependable. And surely, bit by bit you begin to question what you mean by forgiveness. And you begin to say “Now is this forgiveness? Or if I do keep on forgiving them is it not just indulgence of sin that I’m involved in? Is it not just encouraging them to think that it doesn’t matter how often they burst out in temper, it doesn’t matter how often they lose patience with their friend, that’s the way life should be.“ And is it not true that most of us would start examining whether forgiveness is possible where they is no change in the other person’s attitude to you—that it’s permanent?Loved ones, do you not think that’s what runs right throughout our legal system? Do you not thinkthat’s why we’re all concerned about it? We all rise to the idea of forgiveness, but we feel that there’s something wrong with the kind of forgiveness that we’ve just outlined because it looks to us very like indulgence. It looks very like carelessness about morality. Eventually do you not think that if you carried on that way, if for instance you substituted criticism of you or stealing your money for bad temper, do you not think you’re beginning to indulge in the same amorality as the person who has sinned against you? In other words does there not come a time when you’ve forgiven so often that actually you’re just teaching people to ignore standards? Certainly you must admit that if you were doing it with a child, and I know it as an ex-school teacher, there’s no doubt in your mind that you’d be teaching them to be amoral. You’d be teaching them, “Son, it doesn’t matter how often you lose your temper, it doesn’t matter how often you criticize, it doesn’t matter how often you steal, I forgive you; you’re ok.” And I know from my experience the dear kid takes full advantage of that. He just keeps going one way and probably we’ve all seen homes that have ended up in a mess because of that.In other words, surely you can only talk about forgiveness in righteousness, is that not true? Surely you can only talk about forgiveness, which is really the restoration of a relationship, you can only talk about the restoration of a relationship in righteousness if the other person, sooner or later, after however many time of forgiving eventually comes to the point where they no longer lose their temper with you, where they no longer criticize you, where you begin to have a relationship of love.And loved ones, that’s really what forgiveness is, even in the Old Testament. You don’t need to look up this verse, “the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.” And that’s as far as we, in our generation, read: “The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him and his righteousness to children’s children. To those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.” In other words, our dear God does not indulge us in amorality the way we tend to think he does and the way we have presented him to each other as doing. Our dear God planted in us the same common sense that is part of his own nature. Forgiveness only makes sense if eventually the husband or the wife or the son or the daughter or the roommate begins to change in their own hearts and lives and begins to continue a relationship of love with you.So in a sense the problem has never been God’s forgiveness, God has always been willing to forgive us. The problem is that it becomes to us just indulgence of our wrongs or our sins unless we can change ourselves. And loved ones, that’s what communion is about. You’re right, forgiveness is preached in Jesus’ name, but it’s preached in Jesus’ name because Jesus is the one that enables us to change so that forgiveness can be real. And it’s in Jesus that all of us were changed, that’s why communion is precious. If you’ve had things in your life that you know are wrong and you’ve continued to ask God to forgive you them, and he has continued graciously to forgive you them, even though his voice has become quieter and quieter and you’re having more and more trouble listening to it, yet he still has graciously has forgiven you. If you’re in that situation and you know his voice is becoming quieter and more distant because you’re continuing to do the things that you ask him to forgive you for and if you’re getting yourself into that position as we described between the two friends, if you’re in that spot,loved ones, God changed you in Jesus.That’s what communion is about. God changed you in Jesus. He foresaw the kind of life you wouldlive. Could I just tell you a little thing that should make that much easier for you to believe; that God foresaw the kind of life you would live. The little IBM personal computer would take 153 days to solve a certain difficult mathematical problem. Cray invented one of his massive Cray computers that solves that problem in three seconds. If we can do that with our computers is our mighty God not well able to foresee the kind of life that you would live and provide a remedy for them? Of course he is. God has an infinite mind and even though he doesn’t make us do what we have done in our lives, he foresaw that we would do it. And he put you into his son Jesus and destroyed you there and made you anew and clean and whole and if you believe that, you can be changed this morning. That’s what communion is. Communion isn’t just about God being willing to forgive us. Communion is about God changing you and me in Jesus so that we can continue a real, restored relationship with him forever.Just one last thing; you may say, “You mean through the influence of his Spirit, and through my coming to Church, and through my reading the Bible and praying and trying to obey him I can be changed?” No. No. I mean you have been changed. That’s what this dear Book says. It says Christ died for all of us; therefore all of us have died in eternity, above time and space. And if anyone is in Christ, and all of us are in Christ because Christ died for all and all died, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has passed away, the new has already come. You can be that now because God has already made you it in Jesus. And through your faith in that, the Holy Spirit can bring that into your life. That’s true, loved ones. You can believe into that this moment. Let us pray.
Jekyll Or Hyde? - REVIVAL
Jekyll or Hyde?Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillI don’t know how many of you have actually read Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” I read it over again this week and those of you who have read it know that Dr. Jekyll, the good respectable doctor was at times taken over by the murderous lustful Mr. Hyde that was his other self. Towards the end of the novel, he writes it all down, of course, in a confession and he describes how the drugs ceased to work, how he was able to call up the worst part of himself, that Mr. Hyde.But how the drugs ceased to be able to get rid of that Mr. Hyde and indeed as the years went on, that Mr. Hyde began to take him over completely. He says this: “All things therefore seem to point to this: that I was slowly losing hold of my original and better self and becoming slowly incorporated with my second and worse. Between these two, I now felt I had to choose.”“Between these two I now felt I had to choose.” And so do we because there isn’t one of us who has even heard of that story, who does not recognize that Stevenson spoke for us because every one of us knows that there dwells within us a self that our friends do not know and have not seen. We too have felt at times that we’re losing touch with the better self that our friends see. Stevenson, of course, even though he was a dear child of God, and you can see that in some of his poetry, he did not tell the answer that God has given for us.And here it is at this communion table. This death of Jesus was the death of all our old selves. It was the death of the human race — that’s the meaning of it. This table sets forth the death of Jesus Christ of Nazareth in 29 AD. And all of this dear book that we have here, all of this dear book tells us that when that man died, he was simply setting forth a complete remaking of the race that had taken place in him even before the foundation of the world. So loved ones, every one of us here in this room can be free, once and for all and forever, from that Mr. Hyde within us, that’s true.Now, loved ones really if you choose not to believe it, that Hyde within you will kill you, it really will. It will destroy you and as the years pass it will just get more and more subtle in its manifestations. Loved ones, you cannot live with it, without it taking over your life. You have to as Jekyll himself said, “You have to come to a place where you choose between the two.” And the truth this morning is that God is offering you an opportunity to believe what he has said he has done in his son Jesus. That he has destroyed that old self part of you that manifests itself in temper and anger and envy and that was destroyed with Jesus and you can believe that this morning and you can go out of here in the power of that, that’s right.Don’t sit there and say, “Oh, I don’t know how to make it real.” Believe, believe — that’s what God has said, simply believe. Believe that it is done away with in Jesus. Believe that when he died that was destroyed with him and you will see that the power of it in your life will be destroyed and the Spirit of Jesus will begin to take over, and loved ones that’s it, you know.Forget all the deep theology and all the labyrinthine twisting of our own minds. That’s the plain simple Gospel: that you can be free this morning because God has already destroyed that part of you that is spoiling your life and if you will simply believe that, the power of that reality through the Spirit of Jesus will begin to manifest itself in you. Just three simple steps. First, if weconfess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.Be real this morning about your sins, just be real, confess. The Greek word “confess” means “raising your hand and agreeing with God”. “I agree Lord, that is a sin” — that’s it. That’s usually where the trouble is, where you’re trying to pretend a certain thing is right and it’s not. First of all confess, repent and believe the Gospel. Second, repent. Change your whole mind — that’s what repent means. Stop thinking of yourself as living your own life. See that that self has gone and that your life is now in the hands of the Son of your Maker and he can live again his life in you if you’ll give him room, that’s it.Thirdly, “to as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become the sons of God.” Receive Jesus’ Spirit into yourself by faith this morning and go out and let that Christ Spirit live in you. The Christ Spirit that actually controls the swallows as they soar in the sky. It’s that Christ Spirit that makes the breakers roll on the Hawaiian beaches. It’s that Christ Spirit that makes the snows lie on Everest. It’s that Christ Spirit that makes the daffodils come up in springtime. Accept that that Christ Spirit is in you now and respond to him, that’s it.Loved ones, your life can change this morning, really. Now if you want to take part in communion that’s what you need to do. None of us are members of this church, you don’t need to be a member of this church, you just need to be real about those things. So, loved ones will you stand and receive the invitation?You that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbors, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in His Holy ways, draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort, and make your humble confession unto Almighty God.Let us be seated as we pray.We do not presume to come to this Thy Table, most merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in Thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Thy Table. But Thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so by faith, we will eat the bread and drink the wine, that we will proclaim the Lord’s death till He come.Grant us therefore Lord Jesus so to eat this bread and so to drink this wine that you yourself may come inside us and may possess us and may fill us and energize us. Lord Jesus we want to live that life above self, freed from ourselves and our own enslavements, and possessed and controlled and delivered by you.The Lord Jesus, on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and broke it and said, This is my body which is broken for you, this do in remembrance of Me. In like manner He took the cup after supper saying, This is the cup of the New Covenant in My blood, this do, as often as you drink it. For as often as you eat the bread and drink the cup you proclaim the Lord’s death till He come.
Can You Change? - REVIVAL
Can You Change?John 5:39Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillThere is that pathetic verse you remember in the famous poem by Robert Frost of “Two Roads” where he says, “Both roads that morning equally lay in leaves, no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept to the first for another day, but knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back”.It seems that that is Satanic, doesn’t it? I mean it’s true, but it’s Satanic. So many of our lives drift along in that way. You might almost say, drain away in that way. “Oh, I kept to the first for another day, but knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back”. And it’s a shame that not only older people here but some of us who are younger, can get ourselves into that spot where we say, “Oh I’ve chosen this way and it’s led to that way and it’s led to that way and I really can’t go back now.” And it’s the same truth that comes through in Auden’s pessimism, “in headaches and in worry, vaguely life leaks away.”“In headaches and in worry vaguely life leaks away. And time will have his fancy tomorrow and today.” Loved ones, that is a Satanic lie. That is Satanic untruth. The meaning of every springtime is the same. It’s what Hopkins said, “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.” When you see the daffodils come up and the tulips come up, you realize there’s something on this earth that is eternally renewing and fresh and resurrecting. It’s the same in your life and mine. It’s never too late to change.You’ll never go far down along a certain path that you can’t decide today, “I’ll change”, and the reason is that each one of you is actually part of the Son of the God who made our world. Each one of you was made by Him. There’s not one of you here this morning that wasn’t made personally by Jesus. That’s what the best book we have that tells us about what is beyond the world. It says, “all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything (or anyone) made that was made.” (John 1:3) Every one of you was made by Jesus.Every one of you has something of Jesus within you. The literal translation of John 1:3 in the Greek is “That, which was made, was previously life in Him, you’ve been made.” You were originally life in Jesus. You were part of Jesus’ life. You were a spark of his Spirit that has been given your body and your personality. You are part of Him. And there’s another way you are part of Him. This dear book says, when He died, you died too, and everything that has been a failure in your life was destroyed in His death. That’s an eternal, a great eternal event that can be brought down into time and space at any time by anyone of us here.Just as lightening fires from one cloud to another and can be brought down to earth by a lightening rod, so you and I are able to bring down into time and space- into our life – the eternal change that took place in Christ. You bring it down by simply one thing – faith. The moment anyone of you says, “I will be done with this, I am determined in God’s name, I am determined I will be done with this”, at that moment, all the power of that eternal destruction and remaking of you which God carried out in Jesus comes down into your life.Do you realize that’s why even non-Christians, people who don’t believe in God, are strangely able to make mighty changes in their lives? Have you noticed that? I mean there are some people who don’tbelieve in God at all, can turn away from hideous situations in their life and can change completely. You see it is because they too were put into Christ and were changed and the whole dynamic of that eternal event is released into their lives the moment they determine it.Now, I agree with you, they don’t give glory to Jesus and in that way they do not come alive in His Spirit but they are able to make use of the power of that event. So it is for every one of us. You’re able this very morning to say, “Lord God, I am not going to touch that stuff again. Lord, I am not going to touch that habit again. Lord I am going to get out of this meaningless, directionless, purposeless life that I have and I am going to accept what You said in Your word that I am part of Your son, that you did put me here for a purpose, and now Lord, I am going to find that purpose and You can use me for yourself.”Loved ones you can do that, you can do that this morning. Simply because Christ died for all of us and all of us died. If anyone is in Christ and that means all of us, all of us died. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation and you can be new this day. So I would plead especially with those who are kind of worn down. You get worn down, don’t you? You get worn down after a while. Either you get worn down outwardly or you get worn down secretly in your heart, but you get worn down.You just begin to get to the point where you think “Oh, nothing is going to change very much, I am just going to drain on the way I am draining and dwindle out at the end”. Elliot said, “Not with a bang but a whimper”. And that’s the way it’s going to go. Loved ones, get up. Get up! God, our Father put you into His Son and He destroyed all that hopelessness in you. He destroyed all that weakness in you and He raised you up in His Son and He made you new and He is able to give you the power of that event here in your own life but you do have to do one thing. You do have to move towards that in faith. You have to believe it and you have to make a move with your will towards it.If you get a car with very good power steering, it is so easy. But the wheels only turn if you put the pressure of your finger on the spokes of the steering wheel. You do have to do that. But none of us here are in any doubt about whether it’s our strength that actually turns the wheel. It’s not. It’s the power steering that turns the wheels. But you do have to put at least your little finger on the spokes of the steering wheel, that’s what God says to you this morning.I have made available a power, indeed I have already changed your whole life but I wait and the whole resources of heaven wait upon you saying, “I want that Lord, I commit myself to that.” So I would encourage you, especially those of you who have never made any move towards Jesus at all. Those of you who have listened to this for weeks and months and have never actually taken the stand, “I am part of Jesus and my God has put me here to do something that only I can do. Lord I believe that. Lord Jesus I believe You’re in me and I now give myself to You and You can do what You want with me.” Loved ones, I would suggest that you do it. Open yourself to God.It might be good to look at the means of grace. Many of us are dissatisfied with our own spiritual lives. We are vague about God’s voice and can’t get much strength from a sense of His presence. We find ourselves at odds with other Christian’s views and attitudes and generally miss the joy of our salvation. Then on the next page the spiritual life has the same symptoms of disease and rules for health as a physical life.Removing the symptoms of disease and following the rules of health opens the way for God to revive us with His spirit. It’s not actually your breathing that keeps you alive. Isn’t it the air? You could breathe like mad but if you’re breathing coal gas, you could die. It is not the breathing thatdoes it. It’s the air that you breathe. So, with this, it’s the grace that you receive in.It’s not actually you coming to a prayer meeting or doing bible study, but it’s the grace that you receive through that. The way to do this is to use the means of grace, which God has provided in the body of Christ. Examine yourself and act and then God will answer. Don’t argue or philosophize or rationalize. Appropriate action enables God’s grace to renew your life and that’s what I suggest loved ones. Why I did this, was to show you there’s something you can do about it.Some of you will say, “Well, how do I exercise faith?” Oh well, it’s easy, look at… – #10 how many mornings in the week did you have a personal half-hour prayer and bible study? That’s exercising faith. – #11, did you invite anyone to fellowship lunch at Sunday morning service? In other words, did you think of anybody else after Sunday morning service? – #12, did you witness to anyone? – #13 did you experience any answer to prayer? – #14 did God speak to you about anything? – #15 did you send anyone a book or tract, did you make any venture to bring a friend or relative closer to God? Well, that’s it loved ones. Faith is action. Those actions themselves are useless. Those don’t do a thing for you but they express your faith that God has chosen you to be His child and is intent on using you.So loved ones, I would encourage you to take the opportunity that this beginning of a new year offers. Look briefly over your life especially during the quietness during communion when we distribute the bread and the wine. Just look at your life and see where it is going. Then see, you can change it today. The power of Heaven waits upon you and waits upon you exercising the little finger of faith.Now loved ones, over the years we have always used this first Sunday, just as I have outlined here. We renew our covenant with God and bring before our own hearts our commitment to the One who has made us. John Wesley wrote these words and I’d read them just before we make our own covenant.“Dearly beloved, the Christian life to which we are called, is a life in Christ redeemed from sin by Him and through Him consecrated to God. Upon this life we have entered, having been admitted into that new covenant of which our Lord Jesus Christ is mediator and which He sealed with His own blood, that it might stand forever. On one side, the covenant is God’s promise that He will fulfill in and through us all that He declared in Jesus Christ, who is the author and perfecter of our faith. His promise still stands. We are sure for we have known His goodness and proved His grace in our lives day by day. On the other side, we stand pledged to live no more unto ourselves but to Him who loved us and gave Himself for us and has called us to serve Him, that the purposes of His coming might be fulfilled”.From time to time we renew our vows of consecration especially when we gather at the table of the Lord. But on this day, we meet expressly as generations of our fathers have met that we may joyfully and solemnly renew the covenant, which bound them and binds us to God. That is in remembering the mercies of God and the hope of His calling, examine ourselves by the light of His spirit that we may see wherein we have failed or fallen short in faith and practice and considering all that this covenant means, may give ourselves anew to God.Loved ones, though I’d encourage all of us to stand, I’d ask only those of us who are really serious about this to take upon our lips these sacred words and this holy covenant. So let us stand together.If you intend to give up the ownership of your own life and the governing of your own future and intend to put it into the hands of Him who really owns it anyway and intend to live the life that is pleasing to God and that is empowered by Son Jesus, I ask you to join with me then, in repeating this covenant.“I am no longer my own but Thine. Put me to what Thy wilt, rank me with whom Thy wilt, put me to doing, put me to suffering, let me be employed for Thee or laid aside for Thee, exulted for Thee or brought low for Thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now oh glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine and I am thine, so be it and the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.Let us be seated as we pray.
How will You live your life? - REVIVAL
Decide Today!Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillEven for those of us who are young, this is a solemn day because this is the first Sunday of another year and however young we are, we know we have only so many of these years to spend. So it is a solemn time and a time when we need to, if we have any intelligence at all, look at our own lives and see where they’re going, and try to fix in our minds where we want to try to get them to go this coming year.Loved ones, if you don’t do that, you will drift. And some of us here find we’re in the tragic situation that we feel we’ve been drifting for longer than we care to imagine and we feel we’ve been drifting from one spot to another, from one job to another, not really choosing our way, but almost just bouncing from one spot to another. Often we have found — those of us who have believed God for a long time – often mouthing the same old beliefs and the same old clichés but not really being changed at all by them.Now, I would ask you, whether you believe in God this morning or whether you don’t believe at all, would you look at your own life and try to determine in your mind where it is going? Because you only will have a certain number of years like this past one, and they are precious, and there is no guarantee that you will see the end of this year — there just isn’t — and you and I both know that. That’s no “hellfire and damnation preaching”, that’s a fact of life. None of us know whether we’ll see the end of this present year or not, this is an important time for us. There is that pathetic verse you remember in the Old Testament, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended and we are not yet saved.” So I would ask you, where is your life going and what is happening in your professional life, your job life, and your vocational life?And then what is happening in your resolution life? Because it’s one way out of the difficulty to become cynical about new year resolutions but it really doesn’t solved anything, you’re still left with a thought that there are countless habits of thinking and habits of behavior that you’re still fighting and you were fighting them 10 years ago, you were fighting them 15 years ago and as far as you’re concerned, you can see little improvement in your own life over these past 5 or 10 years.Now loved ones, it’s vital to look at those facts and not to ignore them and to see that that is not normal, that’s not normal. It’s normal in a fallen world that has no God — but it is not normal in a world that has been made by a Father that makes a new sunrise every morning. The norm for people who live in that kind of a world is that they progress in their lives, their lives become more ordered. They grow into greater and greater peace and contentment, greater trust, they have less anxiety than they had before. They are fighting greater battles because God gives them to them, but they’re able to fight them and win, that’s normal.If your life is not like that, if your life — I remember it was an 18th century novelist called Sterne and in one of his books, I think it was “Tristram Shandy”, he did a diagram showing the plot of the novel and of course it went like that, then like that, then like that and then away back there and it was a hideous novel to read because it kept flashing back and going back and forward. Now, if your life is like that, it’s not the way your life was meant to be. Your life was not meant to be a trail of unfulfilled promises, of failed resolutions, of broken relationships, of uncertainty about your future and your job life. It’s not meant to be like that. Your God put you here to do a job and He has a plan for your life and He means your life to go from glory to glory,that’s it.So I’d ask you, if your life isn’t going that way, will you seriously examine your life before your Maker today? And I would say, will you do something about it? You may sit there and say, “Well, why doesn’t He do something about it?” Well, He has done everything that’s needed, but He does require you to stand up on two feet like a man or like a woman with some backbone in you and get going the way He has shown you.And if you say to me, “Oh well, I don’t know which way to go”, you know fine well, you have a thousand little signals from your conscience from time to time that give you an idea which way you should go and you should head out in those directions. Whether regarding your own personal behavior or regarding your own professional future, you should head out in that direction. It’s only in action that your faith is seen by God, and it’s only when your faith is seen by Him, that He can operate to bring your life into order.So I would ask you loved ones, if you’ve been drifting, or you’ve been sliding from place to place now for several years, would you stand up this morning inside in your heart and your mind and decide, “Lord God, You have something for me to do, I want to get my life going in a straight line,” and loved ones, honestly, believe me, if you even make that kind of move, if you make any kind of a move towards order in your life, the Creator will begin to work in your life.But loved ones, we aren’t jellyfish. We aren’t jellyfish, wobbling about like that forever, we aren’t. The society tries to make us think we are, that we’re the victims of our heredity plus our environment, but we aren’t. We are able to make our lives go in a way that we believe our Maker wants us to, that’s why He gave us intellects and minds. And you know fine well that the only way you can achieve anything in this world is to determine what’s to be done and do it.So I would ask you, will you think now, each one of you, wherever you are in your Christian faith, wherever you are in your belief in God, wherever you are in your atheism or your agnosticism — would you pause for a moment now on this first Sunday of this year and would you in the quiet times that we’ll have for prayer during this communion service, will you examine your heart and look in and see has God given you any impressions there that would give you a direction in your life? Has He given you any hint over the years of which way you should go? Then will you align your will with that?Why I pleaded especially for that, is my heart goes out to those of us who have been educated in recent years because we have been the victims of this kind of brainwashing that you can’t do anything about it. “You are determined by your father and your mother and your environment” — you’re not, you’re not. You’re a free person and that’s what we say, here in this country we say, “We’re free and we can do what we really want to do”, and that’s true, loved ones, that’s true.I would ask you to think seriously about it. This is what we call in the family here Covenant Sunday. When we renew our covenant with our God, with our Creator — and we do it in some formal words that have been used over the years, but most of all, we do it in our heart of hearts. So, that’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to have the short covenant service and then we’re going to have the communion service. So, I’ll just read the words really that we’ve used so often before and that thousands of our forefathers have used.I am no longer my own, but thine.
Is it possible to be certain God Loves you? - REVIVAL
Testimony: Ernest O’NeillRomans 6:6by Rev. Ernest O’Neill17 April 1983, Minneapolis, MN U.S.A.It’s difficult loved ones for me to go too long without testifying again to what Jesus did in my life. So I’d like to do that simply.I was a Methodist minister in Ireland and I sensed that God wanted us to go to London to study, so my wife and I went there and I really didn’t know what to do next. I was a Christian and knew that God had forgiven my sins. I knew that from when I was 17, when I went to University. That whole business of sex and the impossibility of doing anything about the strong drives that I had in that direction brought home to me the power of sin and the need to at least have it forgiven. So when I went up to University in Ireland at 17, I got down to what was to Protestants a dreadful thing, the Stations of the Cross. I began to spend my prayer time thinking about Jesus dying. I tried to get it through my own thick head that He had actually died and that there was a piece of soil in Palestine where His Cross had actually been thrust into the ground. Gradually, as I thought about that and my mind dwelt upon it, I came to the conclusion He had really done that. There was really a man Jesus who had a beard that you could maybe smell if you were close to it or He had ears like mine and He had clothes on. And He had actually died on a cross in Palestine and He had died looking right down the centuries past the Roman soldiers to Ernest O’Neill and saying, “Father, forgive HIM for he knows not what he does.”So it came home to me when I was 17 that Jesus had actually died for me, and that because He had died for me, God was willing to forgive me my sins. So I was born of God when I was 17. From then on I had a Bible study and a prayer life, not daily but pretty close to daily. Then I sensed God calling me to the ministry and that’s why I went into the Methodist Ministry. Now after teaching English literature for a couple of years in Ireland, I went into the Methodist Ministry and then ended up in the position that I’ve described, where I felt God wanted us to go to London.We found ourselves in London in the Methodist Church there and then did not know what to do next. My life, even though it was Christian and I was committed to the ministry, was not what it was meant to be. I didn’t know what was wrong then, but I knewm this is not a wonderful life. My mother would often say to me, “Ernest, Christians are supposed to be happy.” I mean, it was just like a sword in my side because I wasn’t happy. I was worried and anxious and concerned and troubled most of the time or a lot of the time and very tense, and yet I was a Christian. So I knew that something was wrong but didn’t know what.When so it came to whether I’d go back to Ireland or stay in London I at last just said, “Lord, I don’t know.” I began to seek God, fairly much day after day in London, where should I go? Through prayer came “America” and that was the last place I wanted to go because America had a lot of money, a lot of commercialism, it wasn’t the place where you wanted to go if you were really serious about God, at least as a little Irish minister. And I felt I WAS serious about God.That was the only answer I got so I went to my neighboring pastor and said did you know anybody in America? He said he knew the Bishop of Minnesota and he’d arrive in London in the next month. Soeventually I had dinner with the Bishop of Minnesota and ended up here in Minneapolis. That was about 20 years ago, the same year that Kennedy was assassinated. Then I got into the Methodist ministry here in America but found the same problem there as I had in Ireland. It was this, and I can tie it down fairly precisely: a lady could come into my study after I’d preached a sermon and could say, “Well, I didn’t think this and this and this was good, I thought you could have left that part out.” Well I sat there in my chair because in seminary we’re given smiling classes and I would smile because you’re supposed to smile when they tear you apart. But it really didn’t matter if I was smiling because inside in my heart, I was resentful of her. I had rising up within me the feeling, “What right has she to talk about my preaching? What does she know about homiletics?”That was one of the problems. A rising up of resentment and criticism towards other people which I did not show on the outside but which were inside all the time. And that was inward sin; I didn’t know about that. I didn’t know the distinction. I knew it was there, but I didn’t know what you could do about it. That was one of the problems. I didn’t show it on the outside because I had trained myself, I suppose, to discipline my outward expressions to other people so that they wouldn’t see what I was really thinking. But I knew what I was thinking. And of course it really makes a break between you and the person you’re speaking to because they think you’re one thing and you’re really another. So you don’t feel in communion with them — they may feel they’re in communion with you– but you know right well they’re just in communion with a just a hypocritical appearance that you’re putting on. So that was one problem.Another problem was selfish ambition. I don’t know about the brothers here, but we men are taught that we must achieve things. We get the idea that we must make a niche for ourselves in the hall of fame somewhere. I certainly was convinced of that and felt often driven by a selfish ambition to be somebody important. I wanted to be somebody well known, somebody famous, for people to like me, people to respect me and to be successful. I wanted to be able to write back and tell my mother what I’d done in this world or something like that.So selfish ambition, which often drove you to be very jealous of anybody else who did anything half reasonably. So even if someone sang a song or somebody else did something well, that wasn’t doing me any harm at all, yet I was so preoccupied with being center-stage and being the important one that I would feel jealous of them or envious. I did not even want to sing, I just felt I didn’t want them to be that well known or well liked or well respected when I wasn’t. And so selfish ambition begot in me jealousy and envy and of course a lot of pride. And that was the second plain thing that I knew in my life: pride. It’s so ridiculous now when I look at it, but I remember what it was. It was pride in my own insight into Christianity and my ability to explain it to other people. That came to me later one night when the Holy Spirit give me revelation and it came in those very words.So I had pride and it was a thing that was debilitating because you’d preach a sermon and everybody would say, “Oh, that really brought God’s Word home to me” but actually you took that to yourself and said that means it was a good sermon and I did well, and that I had succeeded and I’m very clever — that I can really see truths about God and am obviously pretty good at communicating it to other people. So actually it stole the whole of joy and delight of being any use to God at all, because I was so concerned with pride in what I could do. And of course that’s what brought the resentment when somebody criticized me. I felt, if only they could see all the good things that I do, if they could see all the wonderful things I do, they wouldn’t criticize me. There was a great deal of reaction against any criticism because of that pride.The third thing was just very plain, it was lust. I don’t know how you all are and eventually Isuppose as life goes on, we get too old or we wear out or something, but it seems to me most of us men anyway, find we have tremendous problems with unclean thoughts, with fantasy life, not only with dreams at night, but the terrible things that are the conscious dreams that we have during the day and the fantasies we have and the playing around with the unclean pictures and unclean movies in certain situations. It really spoils your relationship with all girls, you know. Well, they actually are often very open and very straight and don’t have those same feelings about us. Often they are very appealing in the holiness and the goodness of their feelings towards us, but of course we are always after the main chance and always with an ulterior motive in the back of our minds. So lust was a pretty constant problem and spoils all that you try to do, of course, with the opposite sex at all for Jesus’ sake and much that you try to do in your own marriage because those of you who are married and still have trouble with lust know that it really spoils marriage too. And it prevents it being a relaxed and lovely and beautiful experience.So those were the things that were working inside me as a Methodist minister. I was by that time, I suppose when we came here, about 29 or 30 years old. I’d been in the ministry about eight or nine years by then. I went in when I was 21 and yet it was no better, it was still the same. It was this struggle within and this pretense on the outside. In fact, really there’s no question, there’s no question what was my favourite verse, but it was the verse in Romans 7:15 that described my almost daily experience. “I do not understand my own actions for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”When I look back on it of course, I really did what I wanted. I mean not actually, it wasn’t exactly true — that verse in fact describes the situation of a Jew living under the law. In fact, if anything it describes an absolute non-Christian. In fact, I did do the things I wanted. I pretended that I wanted more holy things that I read in the Bible and the things that I’m supposed to want, but actually I did what I wanted because I found inside me that there was an irrational streak that wanted things that I, as a Christian, was supposed not to want. This irrational drive within me wanted to jump into bed with some girl. This irrational drive within me wanted everybody to praise me. This irrational drive within me wanted my satisfaction, wanted everybody else wiped out and me elevated. So I found that there was a strong drive inside that actually produced a wanting of its own. So in a deep way I DID do what I wanted. It’s just that in fairness, I suppose there seemed to be two “I’s”, there seemed to be an “I” that wanted those things and there seemed to be a little weak “I” that did want something of Jesus. And of course that was the Spirit of Jesus. When I was born of God, the Spirit of Jesus did graciously come into me.That’s the situation we’re in when we’re carnal Christians because that’s the state I’m describing. I was a carnal Christian. I had in fact received the Spirit of Jesus into me. It was Him that drew me into the Methodist ministry. I mixed it up with a lot of my selfish ambitions and tried to dirty it and spoil it, but He still kept wanting His Father and it was His Spirit that made me want to pray at times and to read the Bible or made me want to preach or to help other people to know Jesus. And it was His Spirit that at times wanted God and it was His Spirit that pointed out to me that these other things were wrong. Then beside me there seemed to be this Old Man, this Old Self that wanted all these sinful things — and that was my situation. I saw no way out. I had not heard of any way in the Methodist Church, I had not read of any way in the literature. I was brought up as a in fairly liberal Methodist theolog. I had not read anywhere that you could do anything about those things. Indeed I felt that this was the result of just being human and that throughout your life your job was to hold those things down. Indeed in my semi-sophisticated way I thought, that is where discipline comes in, that is where maturity comes in, that is what growing in grace is about. I always looked forward to growing in grace to the point where I would have victory over these things.If you had pressed me, I would have to admit that I wasn’t much better now, than I was nine years previously. In fact, I would say that I was worse, because these things became more subtle in their expressions. You became cleverer at holding them down. You became cleverer at avoiding them or evading them in your own conscious mind because they brought such tears to your eyes and such frustration to your heart. So that was the situation, and that’s a carnal Christian and that’s what I was. I didn’t know it then.I was invited to a little Bible school in north Minneapolis to speak because I was the new Irish minister come to the Methodist Church a few blocks away, and so they invited me to speak at the little chapel hour. I don’t know why I spoke about it, but the closest that I could see to any kind of hope was a sermon that they had given us in the 44 standard sermons of John Wesley that we had to read in seminary. Now, they did not give us the good sermons, but they gave us at least this one which was closest. It was the one in First John 3:9, “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin.” But Wesley in that one does not go into the details of deliverance from the power of sin or deliverance from carnality. He just states it pretty clearly, that if you’re born of God you don’t commit sin. And you can’t get out of it by saying, “oh well that means I don’t on the whole commit it.” You just don’t commit it because you’re free of it and I shared that at the little chapel hour. In other words, really what I did was share my best aspirations, I suppose. I realized this was a Bible school, I was a miserable old liberal theologian that was hardly meant to believe the Bible, so I’d better share the best that I knew, so I did share that. It was from my heart that I said, I believe it’s possible some time to come to a place in your life where you can live in this, you can live “whosoever is born of God does not commit sin”, you can live like that.Now I had a theological problem obviously in my own understanding because I was born of God, but I did commit sin and so I couldn’t make sense of it. But at least I shared what I thought. There was a man sitting at the back with a bald head and he had no clerical collar on, which is ridiculous to anybody who thinks he’s a minister in Britain — and he came up to me afterwards and introduced himself, and said to me that he was a pastor of this church. I thought, how can you be a pastor if you don’t have a collar and tie on? And then the guy started to tell me that he used to be a used car salesman. And I thought, “Here am I sitting with the degrees and all my training and this guy’s a used car salesman. Well, the sooner I get off and get on with my work the better.” But he of course started to talk with me and I saw an honest light in his eyes, I think that’s it. An honest light, you know. He didn’t know Greek, didn’t know Hebrew, didn’t know all that stuff but he seemed to be honest, that came through.So I talked with him a little in the study. He started to tell me a story. He told me that his church specialized in this very issue that I had touched upon in the chapel hour. Well, I hardly knew what issue I’d touched upon in the chapel hour, I just had spoken the best I knew. Then he went on and started to tell how he had been a missionary in Bolivia for years in that church and had tried to preach this. And yet he had not experienced it at all. Then he began to outline — I didn’t know what he was talking about — but then he began to outline in detail, he began to describe me. He was actually describing himself. Then he began to describe me, as he described the state of his own inner heart. Because most of us, if you’re sitting here and you’re carnal, you recognize yourself. It’s not me I’m describing, I’m describing you. As he started to describe his own heart and his own experience of defeat in the Christian ministry and the Christian life, so I began to realize somebody else has experienced this. That was the first time that I had heard anyone talk about these things.I had known them in my own life, but I had never known anybody to talk about them in their lives. I assume that everybody was either playing a game or was not having the troubles that I was having. And he described exactly the carnal state of his own Christian heart, the problem with inward sin that he had over years and years. Then he said, “But then I came to the secret and I found the deliverance that God had prepared for us.” And He didn’t actually go into much detail. He said, “I found that there was only one way.” He said, “I discovered that all the things that I had inside — my lust, my pride, my selfish ambition, the anger, the jealousy, the envy, all the inward sins that rose up inside me that I could not hold down — I just kept from expressing them outside to other people — came from self. They all came from self. And then I saw Romans 6:6.”I knew Romans, but I certainly didn’t know what Romans 6:6 contained. Then he said, “Romans 6:6, you know, says” — or I think he used King James, ‘our old man was crucified with Christ.’ “Our old man was crucified with Christ so that we might be delivered from the power of sin.” I had heard of it, but I had never noticed it before. And he said the Old Man is the Self. I at last realized that my old self had been crucified with Christ and that the moment I was willing to die to that self — and that’s what he said and you might not like it and the psychologists might make mincemeat of it — that’s what he said and it was Gospel to me. He said, “I realized that I had to die to Self. I had to accept what had happened to me in Jesus. The moment that I would do that, that moment I would be delivered from the power of sin.”And so he then described to me how he began to seek God and ask God to show him himself in all the clear reality that God could see it. And to give him Judgment Day honesty with the inward sin that was within so that he would not cover up anything or pretend anything wasn’t there, but would be absolutely honest with God. He said he began to do that. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit began to show me things.” I knew the Holy Spirit — that was the Third Person of the Trinity — and He was a kind of force that came upon the work of God — but he seemed to talk about the Holy Spirit like a person. I never had heard that before. He said, “The Holy Spirit helped me and He began to show me things within myself that I had never seen myself. He began to reveal to me what I looked like before God. I began to see how rotten I was and how absolutely ugly I was. I saw myself in ways that I’d never seen myself before. And I began to be sick and tired and sore. And I began to give up any hope that I could get rid of such a monster as I appeared beside the pure and Holy Jesus.”Then he said, “I came eventually to the place, after several weeks of seeking, where I said, ‘Lord, I’m willing to do anything to be delivered from this.'” He said, “God’s Holy Spirit, in that moment came in and cleansed my heart. And I was delivered from that power of Self. And I no longer after that had that agonizing trouble with the lust. I had no longer the rising up of anger inside.” I still remember him saying it, he said “there was no rising up from within me.” Well I listened to him — and of course, I don’t know if you’re like me, but if your heart is hungry you know, I was desperate for anything that would bring deliverance. I don’t know that I even had my skepticism alive enough to be cynical about it. I just knew that if that’s possible that’s what I want.Then he give me a book, “Possibilities of Grace” written by an old Methodist Bishop years ago in America — “Possibilities of Grace”. I went home and looked up the chapter, I think he calls it, “Holiness” or “Sanctification” and it says, “How to Obtain Holiness”. Oh, that’s what I wanted. I looked right at that chapter. I started to read how to obtain Holiness. How to be cleansed from sin, how to be sanctified, how to be filled with the Holy Spirit, how to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, how to come into a closer walk and into full consecration, it really doesn’t matter you know. The Baptists talk about it as full consecration, full surrender, the Methodists don’t talk about it. The old Methodists talked about sanctification, entire sanctification. Pentecostals tendto talk about Baptism in the Holy Spirit though they don’t always mean an inner work as well as an outward work, but that’s really what it is. It’s the fullness of the Holy Spirit within you. I began to read how you should obtain that.First of all he said, “See yourself as you really are in God’s eyes.” So I started to do that. I know, you all say, “you poor soul, you’ll drive yourself to distraction through introspection.” Well, I didn’t know any better and that’s what I did. I looked at myself as plainly as I could. I looked as plainly as I could at those things within. I didn’t see many of them at the beginning. I didn’t see the pride I had about my own insight into Christianity and ability to expound it others. I never suspected that. I just started to look at the bad things inside me and to see what a rat I was and to look at the things and stop evading them. I wanted to see that they were there and that was me, Ernest O’Neill. I did not just speak unclean words, I was a man of unclean lips. I WAS this person, this was me. It wasn’t just little things that I was doing. It wasn’t little traits or little human tendencies, it was me. This was the real me. I was filled with lust and pride and filled with selfish ambition. I didn’t get very far, and I came to a position of frustration I must admit.It was then that I remembered what this man had said about the Holy Spirit and so for the first time in my life I began to speak to the Holy Spirit. That is, I treated Him as a real person. I remembered in the New Testament, Jesus had said He was a counselor. So I reckoned that’s what I needed, I needed a counselor who would show me deeper, because I’m at a blank wall here, because I was going as deep as I had got before with my introspection. I began to speak to the Holy Spirit. I said, “Holy Spirit will you show me myself as God sees me. Show me myself until I’m sick and sore tired of myself and I’m willing for anything so that I can be delivered. Give me a new conviction of sin.” Now, loved ones I did that; I can’t apologize for it, you know.I feel for all you souls who get all tangled up with false condemnation, but I have to testify to what God did in my heart and how He worked with me. And I had to ask Him to bring me a new conviction of sin. If you say, “Oh, you poor sick creature” – well, that’s what I was then, and I knew that I had to see what was wrong in my life the way God saw it. I had to come to the place where I was willing for whatever deliverance He had for me.So I asked the Holy Spirit, “Show me Holy Spirit, show me how I look in God’s eyes.” Well, that’s when insights such as I said to you would occur to me. I would waken up in the morning with certain words on my lips, which obviously had come from the Holy Spirit and He would have shown me a whole depth of my life that I’d never seen before. A whole gross monstrosity of Self that no one had ever known and even I had never known was there. That’s why loved ones, I think it is a supernatural work. Even in the seeking, even in the conviction of sin, it seems to me it’s a supernatural work, right at that early stage. It is a revelation of things that you have not seen that only God can see in you. And I sometimes think that this was maybe even the beginning of my deliverance because it was kind of separating myself from Self and saying, “Lord, I cannot deliver myself from Self, I need You to do it.” It was the ceasing to be God in my life — to be my own god and to control my spiritual experience. It seems it was a going out to God or reaching out to God and saying, “Lord, You’ll have to even show me what’s wrong in my life.” And so the Holy Spirit did that.Then this book said that you should see that you can do nothing about that. That that Self of yours has a grip on your life that you cannot break, and that carnality within you is so subtle, it loves religion, just loves it. It loves a lot of the things you do in your Christian ministry. It loves a lot of the good things in life, as long as Satan can hold onto your will, and so you will nevertrack down that old Self. Of course, that’s the error that I always made before, you know, you control it, you tame it, you train it by reading the right books, you pray a lot, you have cold showers, you do all kinds of things to try to control that old Self, but this book said, you can do nothing about it, this is part of Satan within you. It’s like a spy of Satan’s is inside your heart, it’s a self that is not under your control, it’s part of Satan’s kingdom. You have to be delivered from it.And so I thought about that and prayed about it, and as the Holy Spirit of course continued to bring out more of the hideousness of my selfish will, I saw, “yeah, I cannot.” I tried, you know, as we all do, we try to do works worthy of repentance which we always should do, we should always try to obey. And I tried to obey and tried to get rid of these things and of course the more I tried the more distraught I became and the more despairing I became, and the more convinced I became that this is right, I cannot deliver myself from this.Then of course the third step that this man said was, “See that it has all been done. See that it has all been done.” And then he got the same verse, Romans 6:6, “See that your old self was crucified with Christ.” And so I began to think about that verse. And really it didn’t mean too much to me. I could get it intellectually, and I could look at the Greek word “polios” meaning, “old man”, I could see that it had been translated “old man” in King James, I could see that “crucified” was the eros of the Greek verb; it meant it had been done in a moment and was finished with, had occurred at a moment in time. I saw that is what it meant. I didn’t understand how my old Self could be crucified in a moment in eternity but I saw that’s what the Greek meant. It meant that it had been done, it didn’t mean that I had to crucify myself, so I saw the foolishness of old Luther even and the others trying to beat themselves with chains or kill themselves or crucify themselves. I saw, yeah, that isn’t it at all, it has been done, I was crucified with Christ.I saw that and I believed it and it said in Romans 6:11, “Reckon yourself therefore to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ my Lord” so I did that. I even knew the Greek word for “reckon” – it’s “legizo” — “to consider and treat yourself as being really dead with Jesus.” Well, I did — mentally and intellectually I tried to do that. I tried to believe, “I am dead, I was crucified, it’s finished” — and I’d get up the next morning and I still had the anger or the lust or the pride, and there would be no change.So it went on like that. I had by that time dealt with my outward sin, so I was back in what we’ve talked about, I was at least back in a justified experience. I was at least back obeying God outwardly anyway, so I was back in salvation which I had at least — whether you believe you can throw it away or whether you believe like Nee that you can be alive but live as if you’re dead. It’s kind of rather a game with words. I was not in the full joy of Jesus anyway. And I got back into the joy of salvation but I was not making headway on this deliverance from inward sin and the old Self and so I kept on trying to believe, trying to believe.And then gradually it dawned upon me what he had hinted at in his book. He said to really reckon yourself dead with Christ you have to be willing to die with Him. You have to be willing to die with Him. I would say that was throughout the whole experience the biggest new fact, although the personality of the Holy Spirit was also fairly new to me. But probably the biggest new fact was that one. The fact that I had to be willing to die with Jesus, because we’d always been taught in seminary that Christ died for you so that you wouldn’t have to die. In fact, that’s where we got a kind of an almost demonic joy thinking, “Oh good — He suffered we don’t have to!” It was kind of a relief: “Good, I don’t have to die for my sins, He died for me so that’s great, I’m scott free andcan do what I want.” That had always been a pretty important tenet of my creed.But this was new, the whole thought, “you are to be willing to die with Jesus” and then I began to realize, well of course God has done the thing in Jesus, but He won’t force me to enter into that. He will ask me, “Are you willing? I have already done it in my Son. You don’t have to make it real in you, I will do that but you do have to be willing.” And so that’s were the pilgrimage began.I began to deal with my own heart and will. Am I willing to die with Jesus? I began to think, now what does that mean? I began to ask the Holy Spirit, will you show me what it meant? It might have been different for other people but what was it for Ernest O’Neill? Lord Jesus, what did you bear in your own heart of me on Calvary, that I need to be willing to let go of and die to. Then the Holy Spirit began to dig and dig through the layers and layers — and you dealt with the things that were most obvious, you know: would you be willing not to lose your temper? And you had to ask the Holy Spirit, “Why, why is that a big deal?” He would show you, well you use your temper to actually hold people off. You use your temper to get control of situations that you’ve already lost control of. Now would you be willing not to lose your temper, in other words, would you be willing not to have control of those situations? And that of course involves all the different situations, your job, your home, your money, your salary, your future and that means you have to willing to trust God with those things. So I went through that kind of thing.It’s the same with the lust you know. What was it like for Jesus? Well, He had no woman, He was not able to jump into bed with some woman, He never did have intercourse and would you be willing if necessary never to have intercourse? Would you be willing not to, if that was God’s will? He may not make it your will because you’re married and it’s normal for that to be the relationship, but would you be willing if He wanted? Most of all with us men, would you be willing when He wants or when your wife wants, not just when you want? Would you be willing to die to your right to that?And that’s what it began to come down to more and more. Not attitudes even, but rights. Would you be willing to die to this right? When Jesus died on Calvary He was looked upon as a criminal, they misunderstood Him completely. Would you be willing to die to your right to be understood all the time? Would you be willing to be misunderstood, and be happy and content? Would you be willing to die to your right even to have two coats to your back? Would you be willing to die to your right to a good salary, to die to your right to marriage, to die to your right to a successful future? Would you be willing really to be with Jesus on the Cross? And more and more I asked Him, “Lord Jesus, will You let me see what it feels like close to You on that Cross? Would You help me to see what it means for me, Ernest O’Neill?” And the Holy Spirit would go on and on. It’s different with all of us, there’s some besetting sin in your life, you know. May not be the obvious one — only the Holy Spirit can show you — but it’s usually the one that holds all, the key to the thing, and for me it was one Saturday morning in my parsonage in north Minneapolis I was praying — I spent a lot of time now praying — and the Holy Spirit said, “Would you be willing to be nothing if it were for Jesus’ glory? Would you be willing to be nothing? Would you be willing to be a zero? Would you be willing to be a failure?”Well, that was the very opposite of all that I’d been taught in my education I should be, the very opposite of the motives that often move those of us who are actors or preachers or public people. It was the opposite of what was the tenor of my life. “Would you be willing to be nothing for Jesus’ sake? Would you be willing to be a failure? Would you be willing for your mum back in Ireland to think you’d died, she’d heard so little about you? Would you be willing to be nothing?”That was it for me, but it’s different with all of us. Maybe when we get to Heaven and I’ll find that wasn’t it, you know it was just Jesus. “Would you be willing to be with Me, my son, on the Cross? Would you be willing to be in Me and to be wiped out as far as this world is concerned and to have a tombstone erected now, with your name on it, indeed not even a tombstone with your name. To have a tombstone with nothing on it, for you to become public property for Me? Would you be willing to be nothing and to be an absolute nobody for Me?” And then that was a miracle, and so then I said, yes.I spoke in tongues about a year and a half later. I don’t know that tongues are a big deal in the thing anyway. I think there are many of us that haven’t spoken in tongues — I don’t think that’s an issue. Certainly I didn’t then, but there was an absolute confidence that the Holy Spirit had come into my life and filled me and cleansed my heart. I felt the cleanness inside. I felt the cleanness. There’s a line in a First World War poem that goes — it’s a misinterpretation of course of the First World War – “like swimmers into cleanness leaping.” Well, that’s what it was. It was like a swimmer into cleanness leaping. For the first time I had not had this refuse and garbage and dirt inside my heart. It was the first time I had not had a fountain of strong desire for lust or envy or pride or anger or jealousy coming up from inside my heart. And so it was just a quietness inside. I didn’t testify to my wife but I thought that if this is real, my wife will know it. It was just a quiet sense in the bedroom. In that room a quiet sense that the Holy Spirit had come into my heart and had cleansed me and filled me with Himself.I had of course had to see immediate proof of it. I’ve told some of you before about two of the issues, you know, that one of the most difficult situations and many of you have dealt with them is divorce within the church. It can be a most unpleasant thing for everybody involved and certainly for me because I was their minister. Some people are so nasty that you just don’t want to tackle them. I was in the middle of one of those when a note was passed to me by my secretary. It said, “Will you call Mrs. So and So? I knew what that was about and normally I would do what I think all of us carnal Christians do, I’d run my own life, that’s really what we’d do. We just obey God when it suits us, you know. But we run our own life most of the time and we make things convenient for us and that’s why our life gets all piled up, do you know that? I never had enough time for things. I never had time to do everything. My life was always chaotic and panicky because I never had enough time because I was always lining all the things back there, to do them my way, to do the things suitably and conveniently because I could divide them up into pleasant things and the unpleasant things because I was still alive and I was still controlling things. But now it was different. Ernest O’Neill was crucified with Christ. There was no Self rising up inside. The note came, I left for the phone and called the lady and got right into the messy situation.That was the first time I obeyed with instant obedience. It was a great relief to instantly obey. And you could instantly obey because there was no longer any interest in your Self and in your own convenience. In fact, your life was a schedule for Him to write. It was no longer a schedule that you had filled in all days in and these things I want to do and these things I want to achieve and I’ll try to work you in where I can, Lord. It was now all – that is wiped out, it’s finished. Now Lord, whatever You want that’s what counts.Then the next morning I got a letter from a friend of mine who’d been at seminary with me. I’d gone to seminary with more degrees than anybody else and was ahead of most people. I was always anxious to get on that old academic success line. Yet God had constantly made me want to find out how does the Gospel work. So I constantly preached in churches to find that out. Meanwhile some of my own colleagues had streaked ahead of me and got their doctorates and one of these of course was inGarrett Institute I think in the University of Chicago and was now a doctor in psychology and he wrote to me from time to time. Every time he wrote, of course, you can guess what I felt. I felt why didn’t I get going, why am I not doing that, how jealous I am of him. So the letter came I opened it and there was no jealousy. It was just a miracle. I knew there was a change in my heart. So that changed my whole life.Then everything didn’t go beautifully. Everything then fell, the roof fell in, all the outside things, as I began to preach that in the Methodist church and they didn’t like it. Everything came down around my ears. I left the Methodist Church and was without work for nine months. I ended up teaching at Benilde High School. I remember saying to my wife, “I think I might never preach again,” but I wasn’t even concerned about it. I was happy, “Lord, whatever You want me to be, I’ll be. If You want me to preach I’ll preach. If You don’t want me, I won’t.”So it was a great rest. I would say I entered into the second rest of the people of God. The rest that God entered into on the Sabbath Day when He ceased from His labors. And it seems to me that’s what you do when you at last accept your position with Jesus on the Cross: you cease from your labors. You stop laboring to be God’s child and Jesus Himself takes control and He does it through the power of the Holy Spirit.So that changed my life, loved ones, and then from there some of you know some of the progress, but I had to tell you because a little voice warns me “if I preach not the Gospel.” I had to tell you this tonight. That’s true and it’s for you, you know. I’m not doing any commercials and it’s just true. It doesn’t need selling. It’s God will to do the same for you. The Holy Spirit will deliver you from the power of sin. Now, if you say, “You mean you have power to suppress the anger and the envy and the jealousy?” No, no, that was the battle I fought when I was a carnal Christian. No, you’re delivered FROM the envy and the jealousy. The envy and the jealousy do not rise up within you. You feel Jesus rising up inside you, and it is a deliverance and it is a victory. And of course it is full Christianity, you know and it’s the full Gospel. Now you have to make a choice. You can’t just go away, because it is either hell or Heaven. When God began to make this plain to me I began to see the truth, I knew that it was either Heaven or hell. You have to go on. Those of you who are born of God, you have to go on. There is no way back. There is no where to go back there. The bridges are burned. There is no way back.You remember the old-fashioned evangelical phrase: “You’re spoiled for the world.” You are. You can’t ever go back to the world. You will always feel that you’re living in an anticlimax life. You’ll always feel you left the best if you ever go back there. No, it’s only on, you can only go on. So tonight go on. Go after it with all your heart. Hunger after it with all your heart and God will bring you. I didn’t have a whole lot of information, but I had a hunger I wanted deliverance and God’s Holy Spirit met me, as He will you too.Tonight we could have altar call and I’m sure that many of you would come up here. I would say this to you, you have to get to the point where you’re determined. After the Benediction everybody gets up and all that kind of thing. You have to get to the point where you determine that you’ll stay here and you’ll seek God, if you can’t seek Him at home. Or if you think, “I don’t dare leave here because, Satan will get me before I get home” then you should go to the prayer room, or go back into the corner and seek God. If you want help I think there are enough of us here who are in the fullness of the Holy Spirit; I would ask them to maybe stay around, and they can come over if you just raise your hand up, they’ll come over and pray with you.Really what I would urge you to do is either that or to go home and to get down to business with God and don’t give up until you come through because you must be determined. It has to be, “I will not let you go until You bless me.” It has to be that kind of attitude. It might take you weeks, might take you months, but if you want that with all your heart and you keep going, God will answer you because that’s why Jesus died.Let us pray.Dear Father, we thank You for that. We thank you, Lord, that Jesus died to save us from our sins. Not to save us in our sins, but to save us from our sins. We thank You for that, Lord. We thank You that His death was effectual because we were actually in Him when He died. That our old self was crucified with Christ that the body of sin might be destroyed and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. Lord, we thank You for that. That each one of us and indeed every soul that has ever lived or will ever live has been crucified with Christ and that has been done –and that it is our great privilege to bow before our Savior and accept from His dear hand the benefits of His mighty death. Lord, we thank You for that. We pray for each other, our Father, pray Holy Spirit for each other that we may get down to business with You, this evening at home or here or wherever we can get hold of that great pearl of great price that is worth selling all the other pearls together. Lord, we thank You.Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us, now and evermore. Amen.
You Can Be Changed - REVIVAL
RevivalSermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill(With Ted Farcasin sharing at the beginning)Ted:We discussed the impact that Evan Roberts had on a small community of believers in Southern Wales and it essentially was a revival. It transformed the entire nation to some degree, the British Isles and later on into Europe and it all started at a tiny little chapel. I would assume it’s relatively tiny anyway, called Mariah Chapel in South Wales. Evan Roberts who was a member of that particular chapel, went to the pastor one day in October, October 31st as a matter of fact and he said, “I would like to have a time to go and speak with the youth of the church here and speak to them and encourage them in the ways of the Lord.”He said, “Sure, go ahead, do it”, and Roberts got together the youth of the church there and he spoke to them specifically on four matters. The first matter was simply this, that if we want to gather together and we want to move toward Christ then let us first of all get rid of any un-confessed sin. So remove that from you, take it away from you. If there be anything that is within you, that is a hindrance between you and God, a barrier, remove that from you. That was point number one.Point number two was essentially this: we need to be obedient. Obedient to what? Well, obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Remember Samuel’s admonishment to the prophet of the Old Testament that obedience is better than sacrifice. That was the message of Evan Roberts to these folks that they be obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. When he speaks to you, walk, function, move in accordance to that and let Him demonstrate whether or not it is His will or not but be conscious of that, be prompted by that and move in accordance to it. So those are a few things. One, be obedient to His spirit and put away any un-confessed sin.The third element that I tried to get across was simply this, to proclaim the goodness of Christ within you, to make some sense of a proclamation of what Jesus has done. He encourages folks to do as what Christ has admonished all of us at one time or another, I am sure, you know if you declare me before your fellow men then I will declare you before my Father which is in heaven. In the King James Version it says “I would declare you before the angels of God.” I do agree that what he is getting at is that we can have a proclamation by our life. We can have proclamation by our own ethic or theology and how we believe. So much is manifested by our personal behavior. But it’s interesting to note that 93 percent of all people are saved because somebody spoke to them. Somebody spoke words to them.Isaiah said, “How shall a man hear unless there is somebody who would preach?”- to your colleague, to your friend, to yourself. Those are the three primary factors that Evan Roberts spoke to these young folks about. Consider them in your own mind.Rev. Ernest O’Neill:And what came home to me as Ted was sharing was that there was an incredible outpouring of God’sHoly Spirit during the next few months. That took place about the 30th of October and then he read a newspaper article which indicated that by December, about three months later, 34,000 people had partaken in these meetings. And then of course after that, any of you who know about the Welsh revival know that Evan Roberts would turn up to preach at a church but the church would have been full from early morning.People would have closed their businesses to get a seat in the church and there would be hundreds outside and when he would arrive, he would go up and just open in prayer in Welsh and then sit down and the service just went on. Prayer and confession of sin and conversions and baptism of the Spirit and they would still be there 2 o’clock in the morning and at times right up till 6:00 a.m. the next morning.So, it was that God moved among them and it came home to me, wouldn’t God move that way among us? I mean we couldn’t make God bring a worldwide revival but it does seem that where God’s people walk in light, at least the Holy Spirit moves freely among them and brings Jesus life into existence among them. Maybe it’s being extreme but could it be that we actually, here even in this room tonight, have a whole lot of un-confessed sin? Or a lot of doubtful things?It just came home to me that there are all kinds of things that we need to see happening among us ourselves. There are healings that we need to see completed. You have loved ones that aren’t in Jesus. We have a campus that is fairly well untouched by Jesus these days. We believe that Jesus moves freely among us in power when we fulfill those conditions, indeed when we just walk in light.So I was wondering does that mean that on the outside, we look like good Christians and we’re a nice body of people but does it mean that we actually have a whole lot of un-confessed sin among us? Or maybe we’re involved in all kinds of doubtful things that we’re not really sure of but we’re carrying them on because we say, well, the Lord hasn’t really convicted us.Then, when he mentioned the profession of Christ, I wondered do we have it in our heads and are we all saying day-by-day at work, “Well, we don’t want to put them off Jesus by being too open about it,” or, “We don’t want to go around knocking on doors like Dan Salem does because that doesn’t come too naturally to us.” And could it be that we’re all actually living in sin? We don’t think we’re living in sin because we’re not sleeping around with anybody or we’ve turned away from a lot of the sins that were in our lives, but we’re actually not doing obedience. We’re not doing obedience, you know.In other words, could it be that all of us have all kinds of little feelings about somebody else here tonight or somebody else who isn’t here and we keep that in our hearts and we just keep it there? It’s kind of a root of bitterness and it just stays there but that’s what stops us entering into the revival life in our own lives and the revival life as a group. Don’t you think it must be?Don’t you think that wherever God’s people fulfill the conditions of revival — wherever they confess their sin and get it out in the open and get rid of it and agree about that and turn from it — and wherever they turn from things that are doubtful, God sees them. And wherever they obey God’s spirit, obey in actual action, and wherever they begin to go out of their way to profess Christ or to talk about Him to somebody else, do you not think that the Holy Spirit would move among us as He did in that revival?Loved ones, I know it’s just not sensible to say He wouldn’t. I think we’re a great group. I thinkthe world of you and we all like each other and I think it’s great. We have a great operation but we don’t have revival, sure we don’t. We don’t. I mean other churches would look at us and think we’re in revival and we’ve been in a remarkable state of revival compared with other churches for years almost since we started, but we all know it isn’t what is talked about in this Welsh revival. It isn’t that.There isn’t a deep conviction of sin. I mean you find that with the ones you talk to, don’t you at work? There’s no deep conviction of sin. Look, there are some of your relatives and there’s no conviction of sin in them at all, you know there isn’t. There’s not even a vague interest in God and it seems that conviction of sin comes when we get convicted about our sin and it seems to me that what we could have, is a kind of a hard packed ice down there.We’re kind of soft and squashy up here but when we get down here somewhere in maybe most of our lives, there’s kind of hard packed ice where there is unconfessed sin that we have no intention of confessing because we don’t want to forsake it. And where we have doubtful things, we’re glad when we’re not absolutely sure what God thinks of them because we want to hang onto them. All of that is really a controlled surrender, isn’t it? It’s not wanting to do whatever so that God would move.I mean it’s not an attitude of, “Lord, I’ll do whatever. Here Lord, cut me open. I’ll do whatever Father for You to move”. It’s not that. It’s a kind of uptight close attitude ‘I am a child of God’ and that’s all that matters. But it seems loved ones that if we would break open, surely God’s Spirit would move.Douglas Crossman, who is the gentleman that sold us the library upstairs, the Scroggie library, preached in that Mariah chapel maybe 10 years ago and he knew there was one very old man there who had been in revival and had written a little book about it. He asked the minister, “Is that man here? Could you introduce me to him?”, and the man had come up, came up to him afterwards and Douglas Crossman said to him, I forgot the man’s name but he said to him his name, “You, Mr. so-and-so, you were in the revival”, and the man almost crumpled to the ground.It was as if the power of God was still there and he almost crumpled to the ground when he had mentioned it. It seems that that’s what we want to see. We want to see a deep working of God that will move among our hearts and will enable you when someone comes along 30-40 years hence or somebody comes to our children and asks about it, that they will sense that. It seems to me that doesn’t come with trickery or with such stupid tears. It doesn’t come with all that stuff. It doesn’t come with emotion. We turn from all the tricks of the clever music and all that stuff or the showy preacher.We turn from that because it doesn’t come with all that stuff. It seems from what we read that it comes from honesty in the hearts of men and women like you and me and I think that requires us to search our hearts and to act so that we say, “Well, we don’t know what everybody else is doing, but as for me and my house, I will serve the Lord.” I am going to get the things right with You Lord and I am going to clean out everything that’s doubtful and I am going to turn from it and I am going to confess any sin both to You Lord and to the person that I sinned against and then Holy Spirit, I am going to obey You whatever it means and then Lord Jesus, I am going to stop being a clam — a closed mouth Christian who won’t speak Your name to anybody lest I suffer some of the reproach that You bore. Lord Jesus, I am going to start talking about You to other people.”Loved ones, I do think that it would be the same as most other things in your life and mine. I thinkaction would release a lot of pressure and tension and would resolve a lot of problems and I think God’s spirit would move among us and I think it wouldn’t be long. It only took three months and there were 34,000 involved. It wouldn’t be long before men and women would know that some men and women are dealing with God in honesty.I don’t know about you but I don’t want to carry on running services to you. Anybody can run services. What we want to see is God’s Holy Spirit moving among us in power and what we want to see is thousands going abroad, don’t we? Because we know only God’s Spirit can bring that about, we can’t bring it about, but it seems to me that’s what we want.I think that’s why most of us came together here over these past 14 years. I think it has to start with us loved ones. I start with what I know and then God’s Spirit can take me deeper. So it might be good to have a prayer time to be free to pray as God guides you in quietness or aloud, and to simply guide you to just deal with your sins. I’ll deal with those that I know and then the important thing would be that we begin to walk in this obedience.We would begin to profess Christ, would begin to obey the Holy Spirit and not do what is convenient for us or what somebody else thinks. And then that we’d walk in openness with each other. Where we’ve got used to criticizing, would you stop that? I mean we just start being open and start being real with each other and you know we’ll have to do it some time. I mean there is nothing Jesus said, whispered in private rooms that will not be proclaimed upon the house tops. There will come a day when everything will be manifested you know, then, for our condemnation.So it really is how we’re coming into cleanness now so we can be saved and delivered and be used by God or it all being proclaimed then. I think if you found heaviness in your own life or kind of a deadness or coldness, it’s because of this. So let’s just pray together. Let’s pray.Dear Father, we don’t want to be just an ice church. Lord we don’t want to be hypocrites. Father we don’t want to be doing something that other human beings could imitate. Lord, we want to see You work Your work that can’t be imitated among us. Lord, we really do want that kind of revival, new life from Your own right hand.So Lord, if You see sin in our lives or Lord, if You have been pointing out sin to us and we have argued with You about it and pushed it to the back or Lord if You’ve brought things up to us and we like to call them doubtful, Lord we see we’ll get nothing from You unless we put away all doubtful things and are absolutely honest before You — open and clear and clean. Lord we know enough about our society to know that only such people can be used by God to cut through this gray and lukewarm society.Then Lord, if You see that we’re not obeying Your Holy Spirit, anywhere in our lives, will You make us aware of that or if we’re not professing Christ? If Lord Jesus, there are people in our work that don’t know we’re Christians because we are so quiet about it, Lord we want to put ourselves outside ourselves. We want to put ourselves out on the line and separate ourselves from all this self-defensiveness and self-protectiveness which is just God, just being God, just wanting to keep ourselves to ourselves and run our own lives our own way. Lord it’s just sin but we’ve just got so used to it that we think it’s the way we live the Christian life.Lord we want to begin to be honest with You tonight, confess and turn from these things. Amen.
Give New Life a Chance - REVIVAL
Break Up Your Fallow GroundHosea 10:12Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillDuring Lent we remember Jesus’ suffering which preceded His dying on the Cross for us. Down through the centuries since Jesus’ death and resurrection, Lent has been a time for self-examination. So those of us who are Catholic in background remember how Ash Wednesday with the mark of the ashes signified the sackcloth and ashes in which we examined our lives in preparation for our death with Jesus on Good Friday and then our glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday.So Good Friday and Easter Sunday will mean the world to you this year, if you begin to honestly prepare yourself during this time of Lent. It’s not so much a time when you give things up for Lent. That’s not the right attitude to Lent. That’s just an excuse that we invented to offer to God instead of real change in our lives. We shouldn’t in that sense give up things for Lent and then go back to it after that. We need to see this as a time for rooting out from our lives the things that God has convicted of us as sin. We need to be real about that, just down to earth and practical.Repeatedly, when all kinds of buildings are put up in large cities, men are amazed that through the slightest crack in a piece of concrete slab there will poke a little snowdrop or a little daffodil. Men are constantly amazed at the “dearest freshness deep down things.” That’s the way the poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins told it. “There’s a dear freshness deep down things.” There’s a dear life underneath all the concrete that man can put over the earth. There’s a dear life that surges up and pokes its head through if it gets half a chance. Men are constantly amazed at the way little flowers poke their heads up through slabs and slabs of concrete if there’s even a slightest crack. It’s as if the earth is full of life and just wants to burst forth if men will let it. It’s the same in your life. It’s the same in your dear heart this morning.God has put you into His Son Jesus and there is springing up within you a Jesus life. A beauty of God’s life that will spring up if you’ll give it half a chance. If you’ll just give it half a chance it’s there surging within you. It will burst out. The fragrance of Jesus will burst out in you along with hope and joy and delight if you’ll give it half a chance. That’s the truth, that’s what Lent is about. Get the things out of your life that God has shown you are a substitute and an alternative for his life. Get them out of your life and His life will spring up within you.Get the lust out of your life and the beauty of God’s pure love will begin to pour forth on you. Get the anger out of your life and the beauty of His gentleness and His patience will begin to lift out through you. I don’t know if you realize it but in spite of all our medical research, most surgery is cutting away the bad stuff to give the good stuff a chance to grow. There are some exceptions, but most surgery is cutting away the bad stuff so that the good stuff will grow. In other words, the only hope of man being healed is the power of healthy life that God has put in every physical body. That’s the life that He has put in your heart and your spirit.That’s why He has told us that our primary contribution to Him changing our lives is simply breaking up old hardened concrete that has settled in any area of our lives. One prophet put it this way, he said, “Break up your fallow ground so that the Lord can come and rain righteousness upon you.” Fallow ground is ground that has been trodden over again and again and again and left without anything growing in it. It’s dead and solid. It’s been stomped on like that, flattened and presseddown.All you have to do to get some flowers growing there, to get some crops growing there, is to break up that fallow ground. That’s what is involved in a time of repentance. Don’t see it as a time of negativism. It’s a time of positive breaking up fallow ground, fallow areas in your own life where you’ve become blind and dead and therefore where God’s life has ceased to spring. You break it up and God will make it spring up.One dear man that was used in America mightily in this kind of revival experience was Finney. He just listed some areas of sin that you and I might want to look at this morning. I really think I should just read them slowly and you should listen to the Holy Spirit and if He speaks to you about any of these, you should during our time together in prayer put them away from you, and repent of them. God said if you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. You should just do that. Just agree with God, “This is a sin in my life, Lord. I am going to repent of it. I am going to put it away now. I know this is what caused Jesus to go to the Cross. I am going to put it far from me now so that when I take this wine and this bread, the life of Jesus will spring up within me.” That’s what will happen, loved ones, if you do that.Break up your fallow ground and God will take care of bringing forth the fruit. Here is a listing of some sins of omission: ingratitude, want of love to God, neglect of the Bible, unbelief, neglect of prayer, neglect of the means of grace, want of love for souls, want of care for the heathen, neglect of family duties, neglect of social duties, neglect of watchfulness, neglect of watchfulness over your own life, neglect to watch over your brothers, neglect of self-denial. Those are sins of omission.God will through His Spirit, settle your mind on one or two of those. Don’t let them all fall on top of you. God will deal with you on one or two. So settle those two now at this moment. And determine to deal with those in the prayer time.Here is a listing of sins of commission: worldly mindedness, pride, envy, censoriousness, slander, levity, lying, cheating, hypocrisy, robbing God, bad temper, hindering others from being useful. I know what I should deal with God about and if you do, I believe that we should just go before God and be honest about these sins. Confess them to God and repent of them whatever the cost. There will spring up in your life a new freshness that is of God. There will. Let us pray.Dear Father, we thank You for Your patience with us over these years and now, as we come to this holy season of Lent, when we remember the beginning of Your Son’s dark journey to Calvary for us Father, we would engage ourselves in solemn and holy self-examination so that our Savior Jesus will not have died in vain for us. As we face You Lord Jesus, we would be honest now about any sins in our lives. In these sacred moments we would now confess them to You. We would repent and we would ask You to replace them with the fragrant virtue of Your Holy Spirit. Lord, we would amend our lives. We would not wait for that moment before death. We would amend our lives now Lord, we would change our ways this very day, we would prepare ourselves now for burial and not wait till that moment of panic.We do not presume to come to this Thy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Thy table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us thereforegracious Lord, so by faith to receive Thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, that the bread which we break may be unto us the communion of His Body, and the cup of blessing which we bless, may be the communion of His Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us.The Lord Jesus, on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, This is My body, which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me.In like manner He took the cup after supper saying, this cup is the New Covenant in My blood: this do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He come.
Where does revival begin? - REVIVAL
Heart and Soul Revival2 Timothy 3:5Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillI think most of you know that Campus Church has a missionary outreach arm which we call Christian Corps, and that’s what that newsletter is that you received with your bulletin. It’s Christian Corps International. You can see loved ones, the unique purpose it has on the back page there at the top left hand corner of page 4. It reads, “Christian Corps International is a federation of businesses committed to personal evangelism through the practical expression of the spirit and principles of Christ in the secular world.” Our aim in this most opportune era, when Gorbachev and Deng are interested in opening up their two countries to free enterprise, is to get thousands of us abroad as businessmen and women who express the Spirit and the principles of Jesus in ways that will begin to affect the ordinary life of the man on the street who never goes to church. It is a vision that God has given us that is just right for the time.I said that many of us are also involved in educational ministries because that’s what Ted and Cathy have been doing in Beijing. Cathy has been involved with IBM the past year and Ted has been involved in teaching business management in the University in Beijing. Many of us have a vision for our worldwide English as a Second Language series at colleges — because at no time have so many people wanted to learn English. So that’s what Christian Corps is about and I’d encourage any of you who are feeling that God wants you to be abroad in that way to apply and begin to come to some of our Christian Corps Institute classes which meet during the week and deal particularly with doing business in the Spirit of Jesus and according to the principles of Jesus.As you can guess, several of us in Guadalajara, London and here in Minneapolis are connected together in a worldwide trading company. Communication is key to us and one of the ways we communicate with each other is through telex. It’s a kind of ticker tape system of communicating via high-speed telephone wires. During this past week, I had the responsibility of taking the IBM computer apart and trying to put a phone modem in it that will connect up with the telephone wires. Gentry went off and enjoyed himself this week and my job was to solve that problem. I spent hours and hours trying to do it. I took the computer apart, put the modem in and then you type in the various signals and I typed in percent Q and I am supposed to get back an answer percent H and percent 2. But there was nothing on the screen, nothing.At one point in the week, an expert came along and said, “That modem is dead, it’s dead”, and I said, “It’s not. It’s alive, I put it in it.” And he said, “Yes, but the computer can’t find it.” And so for the past week I’ve been typing in percent Q, pulling out memory boards and putting them in again. At last it’s solved. I’ve got through. But I just thought many of us find ourselves in that situation with God.We send all the right signals, we do all the things that people tell us we’re supposed to do, but we don’t get any response back from God. We’re doing everything we’re supposed to do. We’re saying the right prayers, we’re reading the right part of the Bible, we’re going to church and we’re sending the signals but somehow we’re not getting anything back from Him to tell us that He is alive and that He is responding to us.Now some of us are in the position that we once did get responses. Some of us have been born of Godin past years or have even been baptized with the Holy Spirit and there was a time when we were getting responses and when we were having some sense of aliveness in our spirits and we could tell there is somebody out there. There is someone out there who is feeding back signals to me. But that ceased some years ago and since then, we have never had any signals back from God to tell us that He is alive and we have joined another group of people who call themselves Christians (and there are thousands of them in this dear land of ours).They are Christians who run their own spiritual experience totally and completely by their own will power. They have a spiritual experience that they control themselves and actually it wouldn’t make much difference to them where there was a Holy Spirit or where there wasn’t a Holy Spirit. It doesn’t make much difference to them whether there is a God or there isn’t a God. They do the things that they’re supposed to do and they do them very religiously and very faithfully and very obediently but they have never any sense of God’s Spirit feeding back to them.They are often very faithful in their duties and responsibilities. But the chief mark of their life is a lack of the fragrance of the Holy Spirit and a certain coldness and a certain deadness that pervades all their religious duties, all their church going, all their Bible study, and all their praying. It lacks the liveliness of the Spirit of God coming back to them. They never really have any encouragement from God out there. They just keep on doing what they’re doing.Now in some ways, it’s good for a short time, because it delivers you from introspection and from being preoccupied with feelings and being concerned with “is God present in my life or is He not.” So, to a certain extent it’s good not to be always looking in and introspecting to see if God is feeding back to you. But in some ways after a period of time, it becomes a dead Old Testament kind of religion.In other words, it lacks the chief mark of the New Covenant. Here is the chief mark of the New Covenant loved ones, if you look at it in Acts 2:38, it was stated very plainly by Peter in the first truly Christian sermon that was ever preached. That is, the first sermon that was preached after Jesus rose and ascended to the right hand of God and poured out the Holy Spirit.Acts 2:37-38: “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins’; (and here’s the chief mark of the New Covenant) and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” (And that they had no experience of.)They have no experience of a new dynamic in their lives that gives them an awareness of a whole new spiritual world that they never knew existed before. They had no sense of the rising of springs of living water within them, a whole fragrance in their life that seems to come from beyond. They don’t have that experience. Their religion is primarily a human initiated and human disciplined experience. It has nothing of the freshness of God’s Spirit. It has nothing of a sense of Him feeding back to them responses.Loved ones, the mark of that kind of religion is outlined in the Bible here and it describes so much of a religion here in our dear nation, it’s in 2 Timothy 3:5. Such people are “holding the form of religion but denying the power of it.”It’s the kind of religion that enables a nation like ours to be filled with church going, rightalongside gross immorality and widespread immorality. It’s a religion with a lot of outward form and a lot of people doing religious things but without the power of God’s Spirit moving mightily. It’s a religion without a Christ-like love, with a lot of sense of responsibility and duty, a lot of sense of what God wants from us but little sense of the fragrance and the gentleness of Jesus’ love in a Spirit rising within.Brothers and sisters, God has told us what to do if we ever get into that position as a nation or if we ever get into that position as individuals. If we ever get into the place in our own Christian experience where we can’t sense God feeding back to us, we can’t sense that his spirit is alive and within us, and we don’t feel that we’re getting signals back, God has told us what to do. So will you turn to 2 Chronicles 7:13. The Father describes that state exactly to us in verse 13.2 Chronicles 7:13, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,” now that’s the situation. “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain.” That’s when you sense there is no rain coming from God into your life. When there is no coming of the Spirit of life into you from God. When you’re not sensing that He’s alive out there. He doesn’t seem to be responding to you when He commands the locust to devour the land as our land is. I have to tell you this because it hit me so hard.I don’t know if there are any loved ones who are homosexual here this morning, but you know how I love you and how my heart goes out to you. But I was sitting, having coffee in a restaurant in a certain area of this city and I looked up at this little guy who must have been about 13 years old. He was a newspaper boy. He had sunglasses on and he turned around to me and he had lipstick on. So when God sends the locust to devour the land — in the disease of aides – it’s not a time for preaching at each other but rather the time for getting God to come through to us. It’s not a time for condemning and pointing the finger. And it’s not a time for trying to whitewash the mess that we’re in. It’s a time for getting God to come through to us.“Command the locust to devour the land or send pestilence among my people”, and then He gives the direction to us in our personal lives or our national life. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” And that’s it. If you’re in that state personally and we’re certainly in that state nationally, that’s what God says. He will bring revival to us. He will begin to get signals of His Holy Spirit through to us, “If my people who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”In 1902, Wales was as dead as our nation is. It had lots of church going as our nation has. It had lots of religious activity, but it was dead religious activity. There was not the fragrance of Jesus’ Spirit alive in the hearts of people. Then some people began to get together in prayer groups and began to pray for their own individual lives and for their nation, as some had begun to do in Melbourne, Australia.In a certain school was a young man called Evan Roberts, a young collier of 26 years of age, preparing to enter the ministry. For 11 years he had prayed for a revival and for 13 years he had prayed for the fullness of the Spirit. A word dropped by a deacon in a church meeting 13 years before caused him to determine to know the Holy Spirit.The deacon said, “Be faithful. What if the Holy Spirit descended and you were absent?” So, through all weathers and difficulties, refusing to be tempted by the boys and the boats on the river near his home, Evan Roberts made his way to prayer meetings and other chapel services year after year. He came from a typical Welsh home and was the son of godly parents. At 12-years-old, he became his father’s right hand in the mine and shortly afterwards commenced regular work underground in the mines. He was never without his Bible, which he studied in the intervals of work. And so the time went by until one night, in the spring of 1904, God seems to have drawn near to him in a very special way.He says that as he prayed by the bedside all night, he was taken up into a great expanse without space or time, into communion with God. This was obviously a crisis in his spiritual life for up to then, God had seemed to him a far away God and he was afraid of Him. But after this, the Lord would awaken him night after night a little after 1:00 O’clock and took him up in divine fellowship for about four hours. He would sleep until 9 o’clock. Then again he would be wrapped in communion with God until about noon in the day.Just about this time, one of the ministers who had been praying in the prayer groups, came to conduct services in the town where Evan Roberts was attending this training school. He, with some other young men, went to the service. The service was in a place called Blaenach. He went at 7 O’clock to the service. Roberts was already deeply moved, but he quite broke down when at the house, the minister led in prayer and used the words, “Bend us, Oh Lord.”The soul in travail, heard no words but these. “This is what you need,” whispered the Spirit of God. “Bend me, Oh Lord”, but even yet, the fire did not fall. At the 9 O’clock meeting, the Spirit of God led one and the other to pray and then Mr. Roberts says, “I fell on my knees with my arms over the seat in front of me and the tears freely flowed. I cried, ‘Bend me, bend me.'”Bend us, for we are a self-righteous nation. With all our methods, bend us. Roberts continues, “What bent me, was God commending His love and I, not seeing anything in it to commend.” The Holy Spirit had come and melted his whole being by a revelation of the love of God at Calvary. “For God commended of His own love to us in that Christ died for us.”The young man returned to the nearby town and prayed God to give him the seal of six others set on fire by God and the six were given. Then the Holy Spirit bade him return to his own people and speak to them. But he didn’t obey. He grew more and more troubled and ill at ease. One Sunday in chapel, he could not fix his mind on the service for always before him as in a vision he saw the schoolroom in his own village and all the young people and his old companions sitting in rows while he addressed them. He tells how he shook his head impatiently and sought to drive all this away but God would give him no rest. Back and back it came as the Holy Spirit whispered clearer and clearer, “Go and speak to these people.” At long last Even Roberts obeyed God and went to Loughor, his native place early in November 1904.He says that he consulted the pastor of his church who told him that he might try and see what he could do. He would find the ground stony and the task hard. Young people came together and they all sat before him as he had been shown by God. At first, they did not seem touched, but presently the Spirit of God began to work and six came out for Christ. Then the Pentecost began. This is what revival is. Soul after soul came forward and the most extraordinary results followed. The whole community was shaken. Meetings lasted until 4:00 in the morning and at 6:00 the people would be awakened by the sounds of the crowds going to the early morning prayer meeting.The work went on until a local minister said, “The entire population had been transformed into a praying multitude.” Man and woman, of whom he had despaired, had voluntarily come to Christ. The lives of hundreds of colliers and tin plate workers were transformed. The men went straight to Chapel from the mills and the public houses were practically deserted.On November 10, the first public reference to these remarkable scenes was made in a Wales secular paper, which from this time to the wonderment of all, devoted columns to the reporting of the work. They did much in the province of God to spread abroad that which God was doing among His people. Other secular powers did the same and man marveled at the sovereign power of God to move the secular press to report the work of God.“From Rhoulacore”, the Revivalist says, “The young student began to be called, went on to another town and other places, carried on their crest of a mighty wave of the Spirit which swept like a cleansing tide along the mining valleys of Glamorganshire.Everywhere the people thronged in multitudes to hear the Spirit-baptized young student. At Loughor he spoke, it is said, with impassioned oratory, but once the overflowing stream had broken out, the Spirit of God appeared to put aside preaching and used the voice of testimony. “He slew hanging Him on a tree, him did God exult and we are witnesses,” was the burden of the message of the Spirit possessed souls in the days of Pentecost.This was the Holy Spirit’s message through his people as he bore co-witness by signs and wonders wrought among the thronging multitudes. Under the constraint of an unseen power, the chapels were filled with eager people at all hours of the day and the services took their own course under the control of the Holy Spirit presiding as the executive power of the Godhead. Prayers, testimonies and singing broke out in seeming disorder yet acknowledged by all to be the most harmonious order.”The revivalist would enter during the meetings, sometimes unknown to those present until he arose with some word to the people. The burden of his message would be “Obey the Holy Spirit” and when one in the meeting would break out into prayer while he was speaking, he would calmly give place and show to others, his acknowledgement of the presidency of One greater than he.At some point perhaps, Mr. Roberts would test the meeting and put to it the four definite steps necessary to salvation, which he said the Holy Spirit had given him to urge upon the people. These are the steps. One, the past must be made clear by sin being confessed to God and every wrong to man put right. If you want a revival in your own life, the past must be made clear by sin being confessed to God and every wrong to man, put right.Two, every doubtful thing in the life must be put away. Every doubtful thing in the life must be put away. Three, there must be prompt and implicit obedience to the Holy Spirit. Four, there must be public confession of Christ. Publicly testifying in a meeting like the communion service tonight, where we will have an “open microphone”, testifying openly, confessing Christ in what He is in your life. Forgiveness of others as an essential to receiving the forgiveness of God was often emphasized as well as the distinction between the Holy Spirit’s work in conversion and in baptizing the believer with the Holy Spirit.In truth, the revivalist was giving the full Gospel as preached at Pentecost and like Peter’s message had received the co-witness of the Holy Spirit and produced Pentecostal results. “Repent,change your mind toward God and put away wrong to your neighbor, remission of sins will then be given you and you shall receive the Holy Spirit if you will obey Him and publicly bear witness to Christ.” Indescribable scenes took place at the meetings. Sometimes a very torrent of prayer and then of song would sweep over the audience and hundreds of souls would rise to declare their surrender to God.The congregation would burst out in joyous thanksgiving and hymns of gladness. But the revival’s special burden was always the church. Bend the church. We think we’re so great. We think we’re such a mighty American church but we’re nothing. We have our beautiful buildings and have beautiful choirs but the little guy still has lipstick on his lips and we still have our murders and we’re trying to legislate it out of us.“Bend the church and save the world” was his cry. “Bend the church and save the world.” The word ‘bend’ in Welsh conveys the meaning of submission to God and the taking away of resistance to His will. His one aim seemed to be first to get the Christians right with God so that the Spirit might break out in converting power of the unsaved and Calvary was the power both for sinner and saved. The revivalists would break down in a heart-anguish sobbing when he touched the thing. “You would not be cold if you had come here by Calvary”, he would say.Thanks for Calvary was the burden of many prayers. The hymns rang with Calvary, the one most often sung was “The Mount of Calvary”, an exultant song of triumph telling of Christ’s victory over death and hell at the cross. Another hymn sung with melting power was “Here Is Love Vast As The Ocean.” The people sang without books for these hymns had been in their memories from childhood but now quickened and used by the Spirit they rang out as never before.Many of the sweet singers of Wales were drawn by the Spirit of God into his service and often would be heard a sweet warbling voice like a nightingale’s trill breaking out into a hymn while the people were bowed in prayer. A singing revival it truly became. Souls were sung to Christ and exulted over in song when won. The Spirit of gladness and praise filled all hearts as thousands rejoiced in a newfound assurance of salvation.The Spirit of God did His own work of convicting and many were the evidences of His power working through him in testimony. A young man would return his prize medal and diploma because he had gained it unfairly. A grocer would return money picked up in his shop and kept although knowing the one who dropped it. Long standing debts were paid, stolen goods returned, prize fighters, gamblers, publicans and others of the class rarely touched by ordinary means, came to Christ and quickly the world knew the results.Magistrates were presented with white gloves in several places because there were no cases to be tried. Public houses were forsaken, rowdiness was changed to soberness. It was said among the collieries that the horses could not understand the language of their drivers because they had given up swearing at them.Well, you can see, it’s not just good preaching or bad preaching, not just nice singing by Bob or playing by Carmen, it’s something deeper loved ones. That’s what they need. And if you need it in your own life the directions are plain. You repent, you bend before God. You clear up the past completely, you make everything right with all your neighbors, you put everything doubtful out of your life and you give yourself wholly to God. He remits your sins and gives you the Holy Spirit. Then you have to obey the Holy Spirit. Do whatever He tells you and confess Christ publicly.God will begin to feed back to you and this nation and begin to change it. But it starts with us. The loved ones out there, the homosexuals, don’t even know what they’re missing. What’s the good of preaching at them? It’s wrong what they are doing, but do they see Christ like fragrant love in us that attracts them and exposes the coarseness of what they’re experiencing in their desperation as a shadow of the truth? Bend the church and save the world.Let’s begin to bend. Let’s begin to seek God for a revival in our own lives and in our church and in our nation. Let’s pray.Dear Father, it is more than 80 years since that move and it is more than 30 years from the movement in the Hebrides in Scotland. Father, we need your mighty touch upon us. Oh Father God, we come before you to ask you to bend us. Father, we know that no man is an island. We know that the little guy with the lipstick on is as much our responsibility as that of his father or his mother or the dear men that are misusing him.Father, we come before you to acknowledge that they are all my sons, that he is our son also. Lord, if you see anything in our lives that is preventing you coming again in mighty power of revival Spirit in our nation, will you reveal that to us now this day so we may bend these mighty wills before you and that we may clean these consciences and make whatever apologies or restitution we need to make to people past and present. We will put everything doubtful in our lives away from us and give ourselves wholly to You so that even Satan will not be able to contradict us when we say we have surrendered all to God. And You Lord God may do whatever you want with our lives from this day forward. Amen.
To whom have you given your life? - REVIVAL
Have You Given All For Jesus?Mark 1:18Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillI have a great sermon which I will deliver next Sunday but God has just made it clear or confirmed really to me that I should go just with the Holy Spirit. So he just gave me the piece to read a moment ago and I’d like you to turn to it please and then we’ll just trust him to speak to us, Mark 1:16.Mark 1:16, “And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending their nets. And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.” You can see there was a lot of net mending going on there, everybody that Jesus passed were mending nets. And then the verse that God put in my heart is the one in verse 18, “And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”I think it’s obvious to all of us in America that church going is much more popular here than in the rest of the world. And there are churches everywhere in America. And I think if you look at some of them on television, you’ll see that some of them are massive and are crowded with people. And it is very easy in this kind of atmosphere to create a form of following Jesus that is comfortable and that fits in with our own activities and the plans we have for our own lives. But it may well be a counterfeit of true following of Christ and yet the great danger of it is that huge numbers of us are involved in it and the further danger is that we’re involved in saying many true things in the midst of it. For instance all of us in some way or other read this Book, all of us sing the old hymns, all of us pray prayers and so it is very easy in such an atmosphere to get used to coming to church and thinking this is what God wants me to do because it has a great deal of truth in it.It’s just that the crucial point where that verse cuts across it, it fails. And you remember that verse runs, “And leaving their nets, immediately they left their nets and followed him.” It’s very easy in our kind of church going atmosphere not to leave your nets and yet to try to follow him. And so what a lot of us end up doing is, “I want to follow you but my foot’s caught in my net and I can’t get it out. Yeah, I really do want to get it out. Oh, I wish I could get this foot out of this net but I can’t get it out”, so we end up following Jesus with a limp. In other words, we’re a little like lame duck disciples. We kind of appear to be following him but not really wholly, not with our whole hearts.Now the further danger, loved ones, is that we ourselves here this morning could comfort and encourage each other to do that. It is possible to do that, you know. It is possible to get together and so enjoy being together and so love each other that we just comfort each other in that half-following of Christ. I feel it of course especially in these days because – not all of you know but some of you know — that we have had exciting years in this church over the past two or three years and you all have been just magnificent. You’ve been just so faithful and really what I should do is be nice to you. You’ve been so nice to me but that’s not my calling, my calling by God is to continue to present to all of us, including myself, the full call that God has given us through Christ.Loved ones, that call is not simply to run a church. You know I think that we could run a much better church than we do now. You just kind of switch the preaching a little and you’d enlarge the choir, and you’d share the little money around and before you’d know it, we’d have a massive church again. But loved ones, that isn’t what God is calling us to. The Lord Jesus is calling us to leave our nets and to follow him. Not to comfort each other in a kind of controlled surrender, not to comfort each other in a kind of pseudo Christianity or a pseudo churchianity, but he is calling us to leave our nets and follow him. That’s really what I want to bring before you. The Holy Spirit is good to us, he kind of whomps me with this, maybe every six weeks or so, so you don’t have to face me battering on you every week. But at times like this, I know the Lord wants me to bring it home to you clearly again.Jesus has given his whole life for you, his whole life for you. Jesus has died his death for you. Now, it is no answer to him even to give a tithe. I mean it’s good to give a tithe, but big deal you know it’s no answer just to give a tithe. The Lord Jesus, the Son of the God who made you and me, has given his life for you. He died for you and me. He went to hell for you and me. He took the worst of your sin unto himself and he allowed his Father to burn it out of existence and to give him a sense that he was utterly forsaken.In other words, if Jesus hadn’t died for you there’d come a moment after death when there’d be absolute darkness and desolation around you. And because of the sin that you have in your life, because of the selfishness, the uncleanness over the years, the lying or the deception, even if you are very good now compared with what you were, still some of the selfishness that is in you, if you had at that moment after death, that all inside you, then there would be such a sense of desolation and loneliness and outer darkness and coldness that you would absolutely collapse into hell, hopelessly in despair.Now, Jesus did that for you. He went through that moment of death with your sin in his own heart and he bore that terrible moment of God’s forsakenness when he cried out, “My God, my God, why hast Thou, (of all people, my Father) forsaken me (your only begotten son, the one who is without sin?).” And the answer was always because God made him to be sin who knew no sin. Now Jesus bore that for you and me. See, he died for you and me. He gave up his whole life for you and me. Loved ones, you know you cannot sit there, you cannot sit there and see him trailing down that Calvary road bleeding to death and then going to hell for you and then quietly and complacently get up from here at the end of the service and go on and get on with your own life and then come back and give him an hour and give him a tithe. You know what it means.It means you owe your whole life to him. You know me too. I’m in the same boat. We owe our whole life to Jesus. We don’t owe just a little bit of suffering, or a little bit of hardship or a little bit of popularity or unpopularity or a little bit of unhappiness. We owe everything to Jesus. I mean I am saying to you I am with you, we have to look to him here and we have to say, “We owe you everything, there’s nothing we don’t owe you. We owe you our whole lives. Anything less than our whole lives is bargain hunting.” Anything less than our whole lives is the Daisy sale at Dayton’s, it’s an attempt to get a good deal. It’s not honesty and of course, you know what the Lord is saying to you today, “Are you really forsaking your nets?”Actually, when I look around — because I see some of you and I know the love in your hearts — the issue actually isn’t not living in Bloomington or not living in Richfield, that’s not the deal. I think for some of us that is the deal. But the deal, in other words, I am not saying to you all,“Get up and leave and go to London or get up and leave and go to Germany or go to Africa or go to India.” I think maybe some of you are being called to do that. But that isn’t the issue. The issue is “have you given your whole life to Jesus wherever you’re going to live it?” He won’t want us all to go to Africa or India. He won’t want us all to go out of America. On the other hand he won’t want us all to stay here. But the issue is, have you given your life to Jesus and said, “Lord, whatever you want me to do with my life, I will do, I will do. I will not be part of that group of spectators who clap you as you walk down the Calvary road and give you money each Sunday to thank you for it. I will not be like that. I will lift up my own cross and I will walk down my Calvary road to whatever that costs.” And that is what Jesus is saying to us this morning through this verse, “And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”Your nets are what you’re caught up in and entangled with, that’s it. Your nets are what are catching your feet. I mean with the disciples, they were the means of earning their money. With us, our means of earning our money often becomes the things that entangle us. They become our nets. We’re caught up in a thousand impossibilities. Well, I have shares in IBM, what would happen to them? Well, I have a retirement plan. What would happen to that?Now I ask you, can you ask any good Westerner to give up their retirement plan, can you? I mean, who would look after me? And then we go on and on and on. If you men and women who have received education are like me, I was faced with my parents saying, “You have got a good education. You ought to use it to make good money and make a good living for yourself.” And so we find that our education becomes a net that entangles us. And of course, we want to rise to that, it appeals to us. Of course, we have got a good education, but the Lord gave you a good education to do the same with it as he did with his position with the Father. “He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and humbled himself even onto death, death on a cross.”Do you see you can’t live with that Lord and have done less than that? You see that. I mean, let me just put it to you humanly, you’d feel uncomfortable, you’d feel uncomfortable. I mean you just wouldn’t feel right in heaven. You just wouldn’t feel right. I mean they’re all — and dear love them they won’t be — but you know they’re showing their scars, and you’re sitting there with your clean hands, and not a mark on you. It can’t be. Those of us who believe in the crucified one, we have to take up our cross and we have to follow in whatever that means.Of course, my job this morning is not to tell you what that means because I don’t know what it means for you. I don’t know what it means for you, or for you, or for you, or for you, I don’t, that’s not my job. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit to tell you that, but he can only tell you it if you have determined that you will not live a controlled surrendered life but you will give everything to your Lord Jesus. It will be life for life and the reason for that is that in Christianity, the truth is, it’s all or nothing. That’s the truth.It’s really all or nothing. You know you may say to me, “Now Pastor, some people seem to get a good deal. Some people seem to just live an ordinary life and make all the money they want and just take care of themselves and they go to church on Sunday and life looks pretty nice.” Loved ones, it’s all or nothing. If you don’t give all, you end up with nothing. You end up with only a pretence or an imitation of Christianity. And it may look good on the outside but it has nothing of the certainty or the confidence that God witnesses within through his Holy Spirit.It is all or nothing and I encourage you especially in these days to make absolutely sure that youare giving all. Now why do I say that? Because you know all the stuff about the last days, you know it. I don’t need to tell you. You know that in the last days, people will have the form of religion but not the power of it. You know that in the last days, things will become blacker and whiter, they actually will. Things will become blacker and whiter, it is not chance, whatever explanation you want to give about AIDS and everybody seems to have their own explanations. It’s obvious from that, and from the terrorists’ activity, that things are beginning to break apart. They’re beginning to move apart. Even those of us who say, “Oh, there have always been great communications, oh people have always, there have always been rumors of wars and wars, oh there have always been earthquakes.” Even those of us who try to rationalize it all, we have to bow down to the fact that there are an incredible number of wars now. There are an incredible number of earthquakes now. There is a tremendous sense of communication so that everybody in the world knows exactly what is happening everywhere and there is an increasing feeling that we are not able to control it all.The world does not feel a more secure place now, does it? It doesn’t. You’re able to dial a certain number and you’ll get the police in a moment, you’ll get a heart attack unit immediately at your door, but we don’t feel more secure, do we? We feel less secure now than we ever did. We know exactly what is happening everywhere in the world. We have magnificent missiles that we can send anywhere to destroy anybody but we don’t feel more secure. The whole world feels more and more shaky than it ever did.Loved ones, these are the days when counterfeit religion comes in. These are the days when there will rise up a Christianity that has an appearance of Christ’s gospel but does not have the sacrifice and surrender of Christ’s gospel. And I would ask you “where is your life this morning? Have you surrendered everything to him?” You know what that means. And you know if you’re sitting there and thinking, “Do you mean give up my car, give up my money?”, it’s usually not those things, it’s usually not the things. It’s the attitude of your heart. Is Jesus everything to you? Have you given your whole life to him? If he said “Tomorrow, I want you to go to Africa or I want you to go to India, or I want you to give up your present way of life. I have something for you to do in the mountains in Kentucky or in the mountains in the Appalachians”, then would you do that? Would you obey Jesus? Or are you trying to work the Lord into your plan and your program?In other words, all of us are in a very real situation this morning. We are all gathered here to thank a man for giving up His life for us. And now I am suggesting to you that there is only one real thanks that you can give that is appropriate to such a sacrifice. And wasn’t it one of the old, I think it was Papious; it was one of the old saints you remember in the early church. And he was being burned at the stake and he was 86 or 87 and they said, “Have you anything to say?” and he said, “I have served my master these eighty and six years and after what he has done for me, there is no sacrifice too great that I could make for him.”Well, those are the guys that will be in heaven. See? It’s not by being like them that we’ll get into heaven but I am using that to say to you that there is only one appropriate response to what you and I see Jesus has done for us. And that is to bow before him and say, “Lord Jesus, I give my whole life to you. Whatever you want me to do, I will do. You just tell me.” Loved ones, that’s I think what the Father wanted me to share with you so that we would not be involved, any of us, in just a kind of nicey-nice religion or a nice little bit of church going but we would be real.That’s the most important thing. There will come a day when you’re not able to hear anybody speak to you. There’ll come a day when you’re not with any of us, you’re on your own and then at that moment, it will be important to know inside in your heart that you didn’t sidestep Jesus but you faced himstraight on and you gave him life for life. It’s really up to you what you want to do, I think it would be good if you feel that God has spoken to you then that you’d go to the altar during the last hymn and give your life to him and then go back to your seat. But really, we’ll just sing a hymn through once and it’s just your opportunity to do it if you want to privately and I would encourage you to do what God tells you this morning.I would think it would be good to sing that hymn “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”, you remember that verse “Were the whole realm of nature mine, it were a present far too small, love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all”. It’s number 147 loved ones and let’s stand as we sing and as we’re singing, if you feel there’s a declaration that you need to make privately to God, you should just come up and make it at the altar and then return.
Why do we get Angry? - REVIVAL
Traits of the Self LifeMark 1:18Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillGod wants you to feel like Him inside and we’re all so preoccupied with outside and with the way we appear that we forget that. But the whole purpose of Jesus Christ is that you and I would be like God on the inside and that’s, loved ones, the whole difference between the New Testament and the Old Testament and unfortunately here in our society, we have all entered into an Old Testament experience very readily. Outwardly we are God’s people and outwardly we come to church. We may not offer our sacrifices but we come to our temples and we look on the outside like godly religious people.But we are just Old Testament people. We may not have been circumcised, but many of us are just Jews. We live under the old covenant. Many of us here this morning believe that our sins are forgiven. Many of us here can sleep at night because we believe we will go to heaven but our hearts are not converted and we are not New Testament Christians. We use the term ‘Christian’ in a generic way. We are Christian in that we’re not Hindu or we’re not Mohammedan or we’re not Buddhist, but we aren’t really Christian in the sense that Jesus came to make us Christian. He came to make us Christian by changing our hearts and many of us — we men of course, are the class examples of it, but you ladies are in the same boat often — but we men, we do things that are outwardly Christian but our hearts are unchanged and untouched.We talk about the spirit of God but our hearts are really unaffected by that spirit and we’re moved by the same things as our brothers in business are moved by. We are moved by the same ambitions, the same selfishness, often the same greed and often the same defensiveness and certainly the same jealousy and pride and lust that they are moved by. It’s simply that outwardly we come to church. Many of us read the Bible; many of us believe the right things. Many of us do believe that God has forgiven us our sins, but our hearts are really unchanged.We have odd moments such as perhaps a Mother’s Day, or a Memorial Day or a day when we remember our dad’s death or some moments when tragedy hits our home or we go to the funeral of someone whom we care deeply for and then our hearts are a little softened. But on the whole, our hearts remain untouched and unchanged by God’s spirit and indeed the term ‘spirit’ is strange to us. We regard it primarily as a kind of an influence or an atmosphere that supposedly we feel at certain times when Al would sing a song like that or Carmen would sing or someone else would sing or maybe at the end of a sermon here there’s a certain atmosphere that God seems to bring about among us and we think of that as God’s spirit but we ourselves are unacquainted with the spirit of God.Our day-to-day lives are largely uninfluenced by that spirit. Our heart’s movements are what we were born with as children and they haven’t been changed very much since then. Our hearts really are like the hearts that are described in this little tract that has been on this table for some Sundays.“Are you ever conscious of a secret spirit of pride, an exalted feeling in view of your success or position because of your good training or appearance, because of your natural gifts and abilities? Are you ever conscious of an important, independent spirit? Are you ever conscious of a love of human praise, a secret fondness to be noticed, a love of supremacy, and a drawing attention to selfin conversation, a swelling out of self when you have had a free time in speaking or praying? Are you ever conscious of the stirrings of anger or impatience which, worst of all, you call nervousness or holy indignation; a touchy sensitive spirit, a disposition to resent or to retaliate when disapproved of or contradicted, a desire to throw sharp heated flings at another?”Many of us who call ourselves Christians are conscious of those things but of course, we have encouraged each other for years to believe that that is the normal Christian life.If you read the classics written by Plato and Socrates, you would find that that isn’t even a normal life for heathen philosophers. Even they taught that there should be enough control over our inner heart attitudes that we would not feel those things. But certainly the God who has said that he desires truth in the inward part, the God who has said that the fruit of the Spirit is love and joy and peace and long suffering and gentleness, goodness, the God who has said that strife and jealousy and pride do not belong to the kingdom of God, he certainly says there is no place for these things in our hearts, but loved ones, we have got used to these things, you see?We have got used to these things and these are the things that bring tragedy to our homes, you know they are. None of us have murdered anybody. Few of us here steal, few of us here probably even swear, few of us here probably drink to excess. In fact, we are among the noblest of sinners. We’re moral people, probably most of us here are outwardly very respectable people and yet we know that in our relationships at home, in our relationships with those who are closest to us, we are monsters. All domestic strife comes from hearts that are not clean and pure, they do.Actually even your outward feelings come from that. Why do you resent people? Because they are not giving you the praise that you think you deserve or because someone else is getting praise that you don’t think they deserve as much as you do. That’s why you get resentful about people. That’s why we get all kinds of complexes about people, because they’re not giving us what we believe we ought to have. Why do you lose your temper? Because of the stirrings of anger, that’s why. You can’t hold the thing down, it just bursts out, you can’t control it. It’s because your heart is rising up.That’s the explanation you remember, in Romans 7, “I do not understand my own actions because when I want to do good, I cannot. The good that I would I cannot do, and the evil I hate is the very thing I do.” That is, you set your will to do good but there rises up from inside you, something that you can’t control and that bursts out upon the other person. You know the illustration that we’ve shared before.Well, you go home at night, husbands, wives; we’re all in the same boat. We go home at night and we are determined that this will be a beautiful evening. We are determined that this will be a blessed evening for our partners. We are going to make them happy tonight and then she cooks the wrong meal or it’s late or it’s a little burned or he is a little late or he doesn’t say the right thing to us and there bursts out from our innermost hearts, attitudes and feelings that we didn’t believe existed within us and the end of the evening is worse than the beginning. It ends up in a disaster area. It ends up in a full-scale battle. That’s what this is about.It doesn’t matter how good you are outwardly. If your heart is not changed, if your heart is not cleansed, you won’t be able to live as you want to live and that was the problem with the Jews. You understand that Romans 7 is a Jew talking, he’s a loved one from the Hebrews that is saying, “I am under the law, I cannot do the thing that I want to do. I cannot do it because there is something inside me that won’t let me”, and loved ones, so many of us are Christian in name only. We reallyare Jewish. We live under the old covenant — trying to obey outwardly but unable to do it because this monstrosity within us keeps rising up.“Are you ever conscious of self-will, a stubborn un-teachable spirit, an arguing talkative spirit, harsh sarcastic expressions, an unyielding headstrong disposition, a driving commanding spirit, a disposition to criticize and pick flaws when set aside and unnoticed, a peevish fretful spirit, a disposition that loves to be coaxed and humored?”I don’t know about you men or you ladies, but when the other person feels you don’t understand them, it’s usually because of this stuff. It’s because our hearts are not tender. The problem is not in the sarcastic expression, there’s enough problem in that, but the problem is not in the sarcastic expression. It’s the absolute indifference and cynical, almost hatred for the other person that produces the sarcastic expression. Your friends, your children, your husbands, your wives — it’s not the outward word that cuts them — it’s what it says to them about your inward heart, that’s what cuts them.No, they’re no sillier than you are, they can interpret outward things but it’s the heart that it comes from, that’s what’s wrong. That’s why you see at times you can say something that isn’t right, but it isn’t so cutting because it doesn’t come from your heart. It’s a mistake. It’s something you didn’t intend to say but it’s the things that come from your heart that cut into another person’s heart.For some of us who are at work in business: “Are you ever conscious of a carnal fear? A man-fearing spirit, a shrinking from reproach and duty, a reasoning around your cross, a shrinking from doing your whole duty by those of wealth or position, be it your boss or someone else, are you ever conscious of a fearfulness that someone will offend and drive some prominent person away? Are you ever conscious of a compromising spirit?”“Are you ever conscious of a jealous disposition, a secret spirit of envy shut up in your heart, an unpleasant sensation in view of the great prosperity and success of another, a disposition to speak of the faults and failings rather than the gifts and virtues of those more talented and appreciated than yourself? Are you ever conscious of a dishonest, deceitful disposition?”“The evading and covering of the truth; the covering up of your real faults, leaving a better impression of yourself than is strictly true, false humility, exaggeration, straining the truth.”Those are all the things that come from a heart that is not really at peace with God. It’s a heart that is not really content to receive all it needs from God. It’s a heart that is expecting things from other people, that’s it.The real reason why your heart and mine are not filled with the Holy Spirit is because you and I still look to other people or other things and we expect things from them, we do loved ones. We’re wearing each other out, we’re expecting things from each other, we sons and daughters are expecting things from our parents. We parents are expecting things from our children. We husbands are expecting things from our wives. We wives are expecting things from our husbands. We friends are expecting things from each other.We are looking to each other for all kinds of things that we cannot supply each other with and only God, our Father can supply us with all that we need. And every time we 1ook to each other for thesethings, there’s a spirit of dissatisfaction and discontentment that takes hold of us and makes us demand more. That’s where this heart comes rising up; we demand more from the other person and the other poor soul is already worn out and already feels that you are demanding too much from them. But we demand more and more and that’s what fills a home with demand, demand, demand, and no offer, offer, offer. That’s what fills a home with empty hearts that are desiring love, love, love and there’s short supply of love. It’s because we’re expecting things from each other and so our hearts become filled with all kinds of dissatisfactions, all kinds of uncleanness, and all kinds of resentment against other people.Loved ones, there is a way to be free from that. Jesus looked down at the disciples from whom I think you’ll agree he had a right to expect loyalty. He looked down at his mom from whom he probably had a right to expect understanding of what he was trying to do in his life, especially at that moment of death. And he looked down at the crowds who had come and gathered around him when he was healing and had thrown down palm branches in front of him as he came into Jerusalem. And he saw all of them with blank looks on their faces, maybe worry and anxiety and despair but not primarily about him but primarily about themselves and what was going to happen afterwards and yet, he died in absolute peace because he had, once and for all, died to what they could give him.He had died to expecting anything from them and he had looked up to his Father for everything that he needed so that — who of us can imagine what it was like in his own dear heart on the Cross? I mean it’s impossible but it was certainly desolate and lonely and yet he was absolutely content that his Father was looking upon him and loving him and was going to give him all that he needed.Loved ones, that’s the place of peace for you and me. And God is able to change your heart so that your heart becomes like Jesus’ heart but he does ask you to join his son on the cross. Now could I just point out to you in a very commonsensical, practical way that every one of you has seen anybody die, know fine well that you, and each one of us here, will come to a time in our lives when it won’t matter who knows us. It won’t matter how many of us are outside your bedroom, it won’t. It won’t matter how many nurses are gathered around you and putting all kinds of tubes into you to try to keep you alive. It won’t matter if your pastor is by your side, it won’t matter if your dearest mother or your husband is holding your hand. There will come a time loved ones. We need to face this firmly.There’ll come a time in your life when you are on your own truly and you actually know it yourselves. You have seen dads or moms die. You know there comes a moment when it doesn’t matter how close everybody else seems to you, you are on your own. So do you see what I am saying? There’s going to come a time when you can look only to God, that actually all of us are limited in what we can do for you anyway, that if you get anything from any of us during this lifetime, it’s purely temporarily and actually it ill-fits you for the great moment in your life — which is the moment when you enter into true life?In other words, will you not die today and enter into reality? That’s it. Will you not die today to the world and to your husband and your wife and to your friends and to living in dependence upon them and living in expectancy of what they can give you and expecting them to give you love and expecting them to give you care and thoughtfulness. They may do it and they may not but if you die to that with Jesus, today, then you’re free, free from what they can give you and free from what they fail to give you. And you’ll find that instead of your heart rising up in resentment, your heart will experience a strange new spirit, because that’s the amazing truth.If you will take your place with Jesus, which sooner or later you will have to take, sooner or later you’re going to face that moment when you’ve got only God. If you will take your place with Jesus today on the cross and will at last give up looking to people and to others for what God alone can give you in the way of love and attention and affection and care and protection, God will send the spirit of his son Jesus into your heart, into your innermost heart and you will experience a new freshness coming into you.You’ll sense there is something beautiful inside you that wasn’t there before. You’ll sense a tenderness in your heart. You’ll sense actually a peace and a contentment and a satisfaction in your heart but most of all, you’ll sense a love for all of the rest of us. You’ll sense a new love for your father and your mother, for your friends. You’ll sense something beautiful coming out from inside you. It’s a miracle. That’s God’s Spirit.That’s what he gives, that’s what those converts in the lesson that was read for us, did not have. They had been baptized in John’s baptism, but they had never received the Holy Spirit. Many of us have been baptized into a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of our sins but we have never had any experience of the beautiful and fragrant spirit of Jesus coming in and cleansing and filling our hearts.Loved ones, that’s what becoming a Christian is. But it does mean that we have to stop depending upon each other for all this attention and all this affection. We have to stop insisting on the rights that we have to this person’s friendship or this person’s attention or this person’s love or this person’s care and it’s amazing when you enter into that death and God sends the spirit of his son’s heart into your heart, suddenly you discover the love in everybody else, it’s amazing. Suddenly you’re amazed that people care about you. You’re amazed that people do love you that much because the little bit that they’re able to love you, seems great to you because you already have this sense of love from your Father.I don’t know where you are, you know in all this but I would encourage you to see that today, that spirit can change your heart if you are willing to die to demanding things from the rest of us. If you’re willing to look to God as your God instead of looking to all of us, if you will do that, your Father will give you a great assurance of his love for you and he’ll give you a great sense and heart feeling of his love for others. Needless to say to the husbands and wives, we know above everybody else don’t we? We have to have something like this, you have to, otherwise we are finished, we know it.Marriage deteriorates badly unless there is this kind of love. It’s divine love, I suppose that’s all you can call it but unless you have this kind of divine love, you’re tearing each other apart after four years and you’ve torn each other apart after ten years and you have buried each other after fifteen years, it just does not work. But the fact is it’s the same with all of life, the only way it will work, is by us receiving this spirit and allowing our hearts to be changed. Let us pray.Father, we know our own hearts, we know that we have been outwardly Christian and many people regard us as Christian except that our hearts aren’t converted and our hearts aren’t born again, our hearts haven’t received your spirit, our hearts haven’t been filled with your spirit. We find that our wills are often set towards you but our heart rises up and contradicts our will. Father, we ask you to look down upon us now, each one of us, and deal with us now individually and reveal to each of us what dying with Jesus to other people and to other things means for us today.Show us Father, where our hearts are filled with impurity and resentment because of wrong attitudes to you, because of looking to people or to things for the things that we ought to trust you alone for. Father we ask you to give us light this day and then Lord, we come to you now, we know this is right, we know these things are true that witnesses with us deep down that this is reality. We see clearly that sooner or later in our life, we will come to this point so Father, we now look to you and we want to thank you for everything you’ve given us and Father we want to acknowledge you now as our God, as the supplier of all that we need.We want to tell you that we believe you that you will supply every need of ours from your riches in glory in Christ Jesus. We want to tell you Father, that what love you don’t give us, we’re content to be without, what possessions you withhold from us, we are content to lack, what affection and attention and approval and praise you decide to give us, we are content to receive. Lord, we give ourselves now to you and we tell you that you are our God and we will look to you now. And Lord Jesus, we thank you that you did include us in yourself on Calvary and we accept that position Lord in you on Calvary, dead to what our mothers think, dead to what our friends think, dead to what all the people around this cross on which we are, can give us. And Lord Jesus, we thank you that you have taken us into yourself and Savior, we ask you to fill our hearts now with your own spirit, with your own attitude to things.
Can God be Seen in You by Others? - REVIVAL
Can God be Seen in You by Others?Romans 7:19Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillThere’s a story that you might have heard about five wise men in a certain Indian village, and they decided they’d try to find out who was the wisest. And so they arranged really a test for them. They put something in a huge building in the middle of the village, except that this building had no windows in it; and so it was absolutely dark inside. And then each of these wise men were to go into this dark building and tell just by touch what was inside the building.And so all the village gathered, and the first wise man went in through the door, and they closed the door on him. And he felt forward and felt with his hands a huge flat surface. And he felt a little to the right and a little to the left and still that flat surface seemed to go on and on, and he couldn’t find the end of it, as far as he was able to move. And so he came out and he said, “It’s a wall. There is a wall in that building. There is a huge wall, the ends of which I couldn’t touch at all.”And then the second wise man went in and he went into the darkened building and verged a little to the left and bumped into what seemed to him round like that, a kind of pillar. And he tried to put his arms around it but it was so thick that he couldn’t get his arms around to the other side. And so he came out and he said, “It’s a tree. There’s a huge tree in that building, so big that I couldn’t get my arms around it.”And then the third wise man went in and he verged over to his left, a little further this time, and he found this thing hanging down it seemed from the ceiling. And he put his arms around it, and he could get his arms around it and it seemed like a thick, thick thing. And so he came outside and said, “It’s a rope. There’s a huge rope in that building that is hanging from the roof.”And then the fourth wise man went in and he went over vaguely in that direction and he put his hands up and almost put what seemed like a sharp, sharp point right through his hand. And he felt it and he was clear what it was and he came out and said, “There is a massive spear in that building. It is just a big long spear, and it has a point so sharp that it will go through your hand in a moment.”And then the fifth wise man went in and he was feeling up in the direction of where the spear was and then he felt a breeze, and he suddenly felt a kind of wind blowing on him. And he put up his hand and it seemed like a huge leaf, bigger than any leaf he had ever seen on a tree. And he came out and said, “The building is full of huge leaves.”And the wise men gave all that information to the villagers and then the villagers said, “Alright, we’ll see which of you is right.” They opened the doors and out lumbered the most massive elephant that you could ever imagine in your life. And one man felt the side of the elephant and said, “It’s a wall.” And another man felt the leg of the elephant and said, “It’s a tree.” And the other man felt the tusk of the elephant and said, “It’s a spear.” And the other man felt the trunk of the elephant and said, “It’s a rope.” And the other man felt the huge ear of the elephant and said, “It’s a leaf.”And in a way, I mean, they were all right, in a way. And yet you could imagine the confusion in the villagers mind as they tried to imagine a wall that has leaves on it, and a spear, and has a rope. It’s impossible to create a picture that makes any sense, because even though they were all telling the truth, and telling what they had seen, they made no sense to anyone else, because they were telling only parts of the whole. They were describing only parts of the whole, and it didn’t make sense to anyone.When you say, “It’s probably better to eat fruit and vegetables than to eat meat.” It probably is. When you say, “It’s probably better not to smoke, or drink too much.” It probably is. When you say that, “Unselfish capitalism is probably more scriptural than the socialism that we see in our world,” you’re probably right. Those are all parts of reality. And they’re all parts of the truth that is God.But loved ones, it’s interesting, if that’s what your friends hear from you about God, you can see they’re in a worse shape even than the villagers, who heard about the part of the elephant that was a wall, or the part of the elephant that was a tree. They really have no touch with reality when you tell them about those individual parts. And of course, if you major in those individual parts, if you’re really hot on ‘no smoking or drinking’, or you’re really hot on ‘eating fruit and vegetables and no meat’, or you’re really hot on ‘capitalism as opposed to socialism’, then, if you major in those things, you actually don’t only fail to give them a picture of God as he really is, but you actually give them a contorted picture of God. Because even those are all parts of reality, they are only parts and they don’t represent reality itself. They don’t really enable a person to touch the reality of God.Now actually our song book might not be too bad. I think some of Wesley’s hymns are better than some of these, but this song book may well touch our contemporary life in a better way than many of the old traditional hymns. But if that’s what you tell people about what you do on Sunday they’re hearing only a part of reality and they’re not getting any true picture of God as he really is.I think our open prayer time is far better than the pastor fiddling away on his own, trying to pray a prayer for all of you, instead of you praying your own prayers. But, that is only a part of reality; it’s not God himself. It may be that victory over sin and self, and victory over anger, and envy, and jealousy through faith in our death with Jesus, is even a vital truth. It’s absolutely vital. But if that’s what others hear from you about God and about reality, actually they’re only hearing a part and they’re not seeing the whole.Indeed, at the risk of tramping on your toes, the virgin birth I think is absolute truth. I think it is essential. The resurrection of Jesus is absolute truth. This dear book, I think, is God’s supernaturally inspired revelation of himself. But even those things, however essential they are, are only parts of reality. They’re only parts of God; they’re not God himself. And to the extent that you share only those things at work through the week, you’re actually not helping anybody very much. You’re giving people a part of reality, or a part of truth, and actually it may just be that part that will put them off God rather than will draw them to God.And so it can be argued that even our muddling attempts at witnessing can often do harm, and we can end up discussing doctrines, or principles, or methods of worship, or points of belief, or behavior patterns, and all we’re doing is distracting people from God himself, to subordinate parts of worshipping him and subordinate parts of believing in him. And really in some ways it is deceptive, because it’s very easy for dear friends of ours at work, and dear colleagues at school to get a verycontorted view of what God is like, when they listen to you and me outlining our doctrines, outlining our beliefs, spouting off about what we believe about this and what we believe about that, telling them about our church and the way we do things. It can often ‘put them off’ God more than it leads them to God.And in fact, what they need to see is reality as a whole. Reality as a whole; not bits of reality and parts of reality. You may say, “No Pastor, I mean a part of reality is better than nothing.” No, really it’s not. A part of reality gives them a false impression of what reality is. What they need to see is God as he really is.Now you may say, “Well, I mean, that’s impossible. It’s difficult for you or anybody else, with all of us concentrating here on a Sunday morning, it’s difficult enough for you to present all of reality. How are we going to present all of reality? We cannot show them all of God, because of the inadequate creatures that we are. How can we ever show them God as he really is?” And yet if they don’t see that, really they won’t be able to respond to God.Stand back for a minute. Stand back from that building. What is in that building? An elephant, that’s what’s in that building. Stand back now from God. What is God, or who is God? God is our Father and he’s our Savior. He’s our Savior because he made us over again in Jesus, and he recreated us, and enabled us to become new creations in Christ. That’s the only part of God that you can actually show your friends at work: the part of him that has replaced something selfish, or something sinful, or something unlike him, in your life. That’s it. That’s it.You can’t actually show them the part of God that you don’t need. Maybe you are a very honest person; you probably can’t show them God, through your honesty, because maybe you were brought up by your mom and dad to be honest, and you are honest. But you have something in your life that you know is not like God. You have something in your life that ‘they’ know is not like God. When you allow ‘that’ to be replaced by God’s own nature, when you allow that to be crucified with Christ, that’s the part of God that you can show them. That’s a glimpse of God, as he really, is that will come home to them as live.When they see something in you and they say, “He is a changed man; she is a changed woman. I’ll tell you what she was like, and here’s what she is like now. And it’s not just that they’re better; it’s not just that they’re morally good; there’s something beautiful in it; there’s something of God in it; there’s something of Jesus in it.” When they see that, they’ve seen God.I read an expert in ‘aesthetics’ — ‘aesthetics’ not ‘ascetics’ but ‘aesthetics’, the study of beauty. Yates and all the English poets were involved in that. And this writer said, “The only authentic thing, the only truly authentic thing in a painting, the only really authentic thing in a painting, of any kind, is that which cannot be expressed any other way.” Now think of it, the only authentic thing in a painting is that which cannot be expressed through any other art form.You see in other words, if you can describe in words what there is in a painting, then that’s not the ‘one’ authentic part of that painting; then it can be expressed in words just as well. If you can express in sculpture what is expressed in painting then that’s not the authentic part of that painting. The only authentic part of a painting is that which cannot be expressed in any other way.Similarly you can apply it to sculpture. The only authentic part of a sculpture is that that cannotbe expressed any other way. I don’t know if – I haven’t done much study of this, but you know that sculpture appears to your sense of touch. And so it’s the shape, and it’s the smoothness; it’s the feel of a sculpture that makes it different from a painting. Now if you could reproduce that in a painting then that is not an authentic part of sculpture. So whatever cannot be expressed in any other way, that’s the authentic part of the painting. That’s the authentic part of your witness.The only authentic part of your ‘presentation of reality’ to your friends, and to your colleagues, and to your relatives, is that part of you which has been destroyed on Calvary in Jesus, and has been recreated in his image and beauty; that’s the part of you that is authentically God, and that is your testimony to the reality of God.2014-11-02 To Here 16:20 p.4Now loved ones, I sympathize with you if you sit there and say, “What about my brilliant explanations of theology? What about my insights into politics? What about my understanding of human nature? What about the way I love them, I just love them to pieces?” No, no it’s all bluff, it’s all bluff. I sympathize with you, we’d all like it to be those things but all those things do is testify on the whole to ourselves. The only authentic part of God that others will touch through your life, the only part of reality that they will touch, is the part of you that you have allowed Jesus to replace with himself and that part they will recognize as God. That’s it folks.It’s not all the discussion about doctrines, or beliefs, or views, or ideas. It’s not all the talk about what is the right way to behave, or what is the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do. It is simply a question of what you have allowed God to redeem in your life. That’s the part of God that others are seeing through you. That’s it. That and nothing more, that and nothing less.So if only to cut down all the airways, if only to cut down all the air traffic and all the chaos that is going out from you as so called witnessing, will you bow before God this morning and ask him, “Lord God, I’ve done a lot of talking about you, I’ve done a lot of describing my views on things. I’ve done a lot of advising but I think all I’ve told them is that there may be a tree in there, or there may be a rope in there, or there may be a wall in there. But Lord, I want them to begin to touch you. Now what in my life do you want to change so that they can see you through me?” And loved ones, that’s all we’ve got to give.I would ask you as we bow our heads before God, would you ask him that? Would you ask him if there’s something in you that he wants to change so that your children, so that your roommate, so that your colleagues, so that your friends could touch God? And then ask him to change that in you this morning.Let us pray. Dear Father, the discussion of religious views comes so naturally to us we just love to talk Lord, you know that. Our tongues just go up and down like mad trying to give out all thegreat wisdom we have. And then Father we just love to rule over people’s lives, we love to make them do what we think they should and so Father you know how often we’ve attempted to witness and ended up telling people what they ought to do. And Lord we see that even though all these things may be true they are only parts of reality and not reality itself.And we see Lord that there’s only one way in which our dear friends can see that you are their redeemer and savior and that is if they see the part of us that has been redeemed by you and has been changed by you and destroyed by you and replaced by your own nature. So Father we bow before you now this morning and ask you to give us light about that. Lord, what is it in me that puts other people off you? What is it in each of us that distracts other people from your nature and your dear character?Lord we know that you destroyed that in Jesus on Calvary. Father we say to you take it now, take the rotten thing from us now. We give it to you Lord, take it and destroy it now this morning in us and Father replace our impatience with your own patient heart and character. Lord as we are willing to bear with other people, as we are willing to endure the consequences of their wrong actions, will you replace our impatience Lord with your patient heart and character? Father, will you replace our indifference and our casualness with your heart of love? As we are ready Father to begin to give ourselves to other people, and as we are willing to forget ourselves and to put them first, and to begin to want the best for them whatever it costs us. Lord will you now replace our casualness and our indifference to people with your heart of love? Father we ask you now this morning to give us reality in ourselves so that when others touch us they touch you.And now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and ever more. Amen.
Living Beyond the Law - REVIVAL
How to Become a Christian 1Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill… he said, “Look, my Father is the real God but you don’t let him be God in your life and because you won’t let him be God – he himself has given you up.” And Jesus you know, pointed out that there was no other alternative really. Once you had a group of people who wanted to be their own Gods, well it would be like the sun deciding to run in whatever way it wanted throughout the universe. It only has to make a little move and we’re burned up or we freeze to death. And if you can image it careering at its own will throughout the universe, it wouldn’t be long before it shattered the universe completely and that’s why Jesus said, “God had to bring us under condemnation of death once we decided to live without him and be our own gods.”And loved ones, you’ve seen some of it, you know, in your own homes you know it. Where you’ve decided to have your own way, you’ve brought chaos into your home, you have shattered you’re relationships, you’ve trampled on top of people. Now, do you see that if God let us continue being our own gods in our own lives we would spread our dirt, and our pollution, and our hatred, and our misery throughout the universe? We have got as far as the Atlantic Ocean with some of our waste oil and I think we’ll eventually get as far as space with our garbage. Do you think that if God let it continue there would be no universe left and Jesus says, “Listen, that’s why you feel alienated because there’s God my Father, has had to condemn you to death and he’s only allowing you to live for a little while longer to give you a chance of responding to him.”And this, you know, is the explanation that we found in Romans there, these first three chapters of Romans really explain Jesus’ explanation of reality very fully and you have it there in Romans 1:21 where Jesus explains why we feel so alienated and why we feel so lost and lonely. It’s not because people won’t have anything to do with us or because our parents reject us, or because we have no sense of significance in society, but it’s because God himself has rejected us.It’s Romans 1:21, Jesus says this is what we’ve done, “Although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.” And then in Verse 24, “Therefore God gave them up.” And you see in Verse 26 again, “For this reason God gave them up.” And then in Verse 28 again, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up.” And really it’s this consciousness deep down that we’ve been given up by God that makes us feel so alienated.Brothers and sisters, it’s not fear of the mushroom cloud, that’s fearful enough. But it’s not fear of the mushroom cloud, it’s not even fear of death but it’s the consciousness planted deep down in us that we know we have run our lives in our own way, and been our own gods, and we’re refusing to let God be God in his own universe and therefore we’ve been rejected by him and we’re really under condemnation to destruction, you know.Now Paul said that in Romans 1:32. He said, men know this. “Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.” And that’s why we feel so alienated, we know that this is going to happen to us. In 2:2, “We know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who do such things.” And really we see that it’s that consciousness that makes us feel so alienated. No wonder we’re having identity crisis, because we’re not in the right relationship to the only one who can give us meaning in our universe and we’re bound to have an identity crisis, we’re bound to be uncertain about where we fit in becausewe’ve rejected the person who knows where we fit in.Now as we read, you know, and studied Jesus’ explanation we began to see that all through this God was anxious to find a way by which he could bring us back to himself, and he was anxious to find a way by which he would not have to destroy us, and by which he could suspend the death penalty long enough to give us a chance to really deal with him again. And you find that running through all Jesus’ explanations. But do you see that to just take back his death penalty, to just say, “Listen son, if you want to go right through the universe and destroy all my planets I don’t care. I’ve changed my mind, I’m not going to destroy you any longer.”Then not only the Son but every human being in the universe would say, “He doesn’t mean what he says. We don’t need to take his justice seriously.” And if we can’t take his justice seriously why should we take his mercy seriously. And do you see that if God simply changed his mind and said, “Look, murder your way through the whole of the universe if you want, spread your dirt over every planet if you want I don’t care. I’m willing to forgive you and take you to myself whatever you’re like.” Do you see if that happened brothers and sisters we would have gone on destroying, destroying.But God to be credible at all has to hold to what he said and he said, “Look, I have to destroy any of you who want to be your own gods.” And yet God has been anxious all through the ages to find some way of giving us another chance. And you know that Jesus explained to us, “Listen, God has done this, by exercising his judgment upon me instead of you. So that if you are ever in any doubt about whether he hates any independence or rebellion against him, you can look at me. Look, I died in time and space, I died in the heart of God from the foundation of the world, but I died in time and space in the first century AD. And if you’re in any doubt that God hates sin and hates rebellion, look, look at what his wrath did to me.” And God was able by that means to suspend the death penalty on all of us.And really dear ones, we live in a time of respite today, you see. We really live in a time of respite when God has suspended the death penalty because Jesus has enabled him to by dying in our place. And this is you know, the faith that we believe. It’s the faith that Jesus had died in our place and that God this morning is willing to forgive any of you for your selfishness, and your lust, and your envy, and our jealousy, and your pride, and your desire to make everybody do what you want them to do and he’s willing not to destroy you, but to in fact receive you as his own sons and daughters. And it’s all because Jesus has enabled him to. Jesus has enabled God to remain a just God and yet forgive us.Now this morning we’re going to study a question that I think comes up, a very obvious question in the light of all that. And it’s that question if you’d like to turn to it in Romans 3:31. This is a big moment for us, we’re finishing one chapter of Romans. We do it once every year and a half. Romans 3:31, and this is a question I think that is relevant in the light of our faith you see, that God is willing to forgive us because Jesus has died for us. “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” But that’s the question, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith?”There are many Christians that think we do. There are many Christians that say this, “God is running something like the selective service board, and he acts something like old General Hershey used to and he’s trying to select from the people in the world the best people who can live in his universe forever. And he decided,” some Christians say this, “He decided first of all to selectthem by law.” And he was a bit like our clever selective service board, they tried first of all you remember, “We’ll take all the people of a certain age who can’t get to college.” And then you remember in this highly civilized and sophisticated society that we have, then they saw that with all our computers a far, far better way for such an intelligent society was to throw all the names into a hat and pick the first 300 out and they would fight.Well some people feel that God runs the world something like that. God decides first of all, “Alright, I’ll give them 10 commandments and everyone who obeys the 10 commandments, I will receive him into my universe to live with me in infinity and eternity forever and they will help me to subdue to the rest of universe.” And then some Christians argue, he saw after 1500 years of trying that it wasn’t working and that nobody could obey the law and so they say then he came in with this other idea, “Anybody who believes what I have said about my son’s death, I will accept them into my heaven.” And so many Christians argue, you see, Jesus has changed the whole thing for us. 1God once tried the law as a filter, now he tries belief in Jesus so now if you have faith in Jesus you don’t need to bother about the law at all.Now dear ones, do you see that this is a parody of the whole doctrine of justification by faith. This is a parody of God’s whole plan, he did not work it that way but do you see that that is the kind of believing that has resulted in churches filled with people who believe that Jesus’ death enables them to sin with impunity. You see that? Many of our churches today and the whole attitude that people have of cynicism towards Christians stems from this fact that many Christians honestly believe that the law was tried by God, didn’t work and now he’s set I aside and he says, “You can disobey as much as you want, my Son has died for you. As long you believe that that’s all that matters, I’ll accept you in.” And many Christians therefore, live lives that are not like Christ at all and yet they keep pleading you see, “Ah, God looks at the righteousness of Jesus not at my righteousness.”In a real way he does do that but not in the way that I’ve outlined and so many people, many Christians even answer Paul, “Do we then overthrow the law by faith?” Of course, we overthrow it. It doesn’t matter whether you commit adultery, it doesn’t matter whether you’re greedy, it doesn’t matter whether you get angry at times, if you believe in Jesus, if you believe that he died for you, that’s the only thing that God requires. It’s just a new condition now that God has laid down.Now loved ones, it isn’t so you see, that isn’t the situation at all. God has not set aside the law like that and then brought belief in Jesus in in its place. Here’s what happened, God wanted a group of intelligent and spiritual beings who could share with him the fellowship, and the relationship, and the love that he had with his own son. And so he made us out of love. Now, he made us with the capacity to be like him. Obviously, you don’t have too much satisfaction in discussing Sartre with your dog, and it really requires a certain amount of similarity to have any real fellowship, or relationship with another being and for that reason God made us like himself. He made us with minds like his own, and emotions, and with will like his own and he gave us a body.But he didn’t want to make us a captive audience. He didn’t want to make us a group of people who fellowshipped with him because they could do nothing else, or who were like him because they were just made like him, and so he made us only with a capacity to be like him. And inside us he put something like the womb inside a woman. He put inside us a spirit, a womb that was capable of receiving a real spirit from him inside it. And he then allowed his Son to walk among us, and that’s the meaning of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden you know, Jesus was God’s only Son and he had the unique spiritual uncreated life of God running through his whole being. And this lifecontains the genes of God’s character and wherever this life comes it takes God’s character.And then God said, “Now you men and women, you must receive this life by choice from my Son. So my Son is going to walk among you and I want you to receive this uncreated spiritual life from my Son into the womb of your own spirit and that Holy Spirit of life that comes from me will enable you to be born again in my image. But I want you to be able to choose to be born. I don’t want you to feel you have to be born. I don’t want you to be like me because I made you like me. I make you with the capacity to be like me and now you’ve to choose to opt into my trinity family.” And that was God’s plan and it was his plan from the very beginning dear ones. And you know what men in fact as a whole have done, they decided they didn’t want to take part in anything that would make them as dependent on life from God as that, and they began to take the physical life he had given them, not really realizing it would die out after a matter of 70 years, and they decided, “We’ll make do with this, and we’ll live our own life as we want, and we’ll become like gods without his aid.”And so God was faced with a group of people, a group of men and women who rejected his plan for them and he was faced with the fact that they only had physical life and it was going to die out in a short time. And he was faced with the whole problem of bringing that home to them. And you know what God did, first of all he gave a set of symptoms of spiritual uncreated life to men to show them plainly that they didn’t have his own uncreated spiritual life within them. And he said for instances this, “Look, anyone with uncreated spiritual life inside them, anyone who has that kind of life from me will put nobody before me in their own lives. They’ll spend no more time, or thought on objects made of wood or steel than they do on me. They won’t treat me carelessly or lightly, they won’t take my name in vain. They will set one day in seven apart for me. They will honor and love their father and mother. They will not do anything to harm another person by word or deed. They will not have unclean thoughts or actions. They will not deprive others of anything. They will not covet people’s positions.”And God said, “Look, if you have this uncreated spiritual life in me then these are the laws that describe the way this life works so you’ll be able to tell if you have it or not.” And so for 1500 years God allowed us to measure our lives against the law. But do you see dear ones, the law was never a means of salvation. It was always a means to expose sin and you remember, you find that if you’d like to look at it in Romans 3:19, “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.” That’s the purpose of it all, to stop every mouth and convince everyone that they have not received the uncreated spiritual life of God.“For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” And the whole purpose of the law was so that we see that we had not received what God wanted us to receive. And then you remember, what he was faced with, he was faced with the fact that he was committed to destroy any being that existed by his own life. He was committed to destroy anyone that did not receive his own life in order to protect his own universe. And unless he did that the whole universe would cry that he was an unjust God that did not keep his promises and did not keep his threats and wasn’t worth treating as God and that’s why Jesus had to die in our place, so that we would have no doubt that God would destroy everything that did not have his life within it. And God took the lifelessness that you have inside you this morning and put it in Jesus and he destroyed it there in Jesus. And so God is able at this time to give life to any person.But do you see that the whole purpose of God’s creation is that we would receive his life. And the whole purpose of faith is not to believe that because Jesus had died God is able to forgive us,that’s only part of the story, that’s only the belief part of faith. The other part of faith is to actually receive the life that caused all the trouble in the first place. In other words, it’s no use, it’s no use believing that God is able to give you the life if you don’t receive the life. And do you see that once you receive this life into you, and the person of the Holy Spirit, do you overthrow the law? No, the law is the description of the way this life works and so if you really exercise faith in Jesus and not only believe he has died so God could forgive you but also actually receive light through the Holy Spirit from God, then those laws will be true of you.You will find when the Holy Spirit comes into you, that you will in fact put nobody before God. You will in fact find in your own life that you’ll spend no more time or thought on objects of wood or steel than you do on God. You’ll find that you set one day apart in every seven. You’ll find that you don’t treat God carelessly or lightly. You’ll find that you’ll honor and love your father and mother. You’ll find that you will not do anything to harm another person. You’ll find that you are filled with the very life of God himself and that life is described in the laws, and so you’ll find yourself keeping the laws. And when Paul asks, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith?” If it’s real faith that not only believes that Jesus died for you but receives the light that he died so that you could receive. Then you don’t overthrow the law by no means. You establish the law, you strengthen the law because every one of us who have received the life of God live that law before people.Of course you see that that’s the way the world is convicted. The world isn’t convicted by preachers standing up and thumping the Bible and saying, “You’re a bad world, you’re a sinful world.” The world is convicted because it sees the law alive in other men and women, it sees Christ walking among them and it realizes it should be like that and it should receive this life.Now dear ones, real faith does not overthrow the law. Real faith establishes the law because real faith is not just believing that Jesus has died for you. John 1:12 describes what real faith is, “As many as received him, to them gave he the right to become the children of God.” And it’s receiving, it’s not believing. It’s receiving the Spirit of Jesus into you this morning that enables you to live forever. It’s receiving the life of Jesus into you that enables you to live the law in your family, and in your dorms, and in your homes. It’s receiving the Spirit of Jesus into you that banishes the meaninglessness and the emptiness of your own life because that was God’s purpose at the very beginning, that you’d receive his life into you not just believe.Now do you see dear ones, that faith is not taking the place of obedience? Faith in Jesus does not take the place of the law, but when you exercise real faith, believe all that I’ve shared with you this morning and then receive Jesus’ Spirit into you, you find yourself keeping the law. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “I have come not to abolish the law, I have come to fulfill the law. For not one jot or tittle will pass for the law until all is accomplished.”And brothers and sisters, what most of us have found is whenever we receive this super natural Spirit of Jesus inside us, we find it easy to live above the law. We find it easy to go beyond the law. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, not only to be free from hatred and killing but to be filled with love for your brother and sister.” Real love, not just soft effeminate or imitation love, but a real honest, strong, robust love. And we’ve found that when we received the Spirit of Jesus into us, we’ve lived well above that law.Do we then overthrow this law by faith? No, by no means. We establish, we strengthen the law. Nowhave you come into that experience, you know? See, all of us believe that Jesus died so that God could forgive us without denying his justice but that isn’t what makes you a child of Gods. What makes you a child of God is receiving the spirit of life through the Holy Spirit that God originally planned to give us. And he’s willing to give you that this morning, you know. You could receive that this morning.Those of us who have found ourselves living above the law, do it not by will power or by our own strength or dynamic, but by a miraculous spirit of Christ that God is able to put inside you this morning. You have a womb, like every one of us, you have a womb inside you called the spirit and that womb is ready to receive the seed of the Holy Spirit within it so that you, man or woman, can live the spiritual life that God gave you. So it’s possible this morning, you know.You may say, “Well, what do I do?” Well, just as we bow our heads all you need to do is to say, “God I believe that this is the explanation of reality. I believe this does explain why I feel alienated, and lonely, and insecure. I believe that your Son did die so that you could give me this life. Now Lord God, I’m going to give you my life now will you give me the Spirit of Jesus? I don’t know whether you receive it by emotions or by intellect, but will you give it to me? I ask you now in all honesty for the Spirit of Jesus. And brothers and sisters, God will keep his word with you as he kept it with us, you know, and you’ll find yourself living above the law really where God himself is.I pray you know, that he’ll give you grace, and wisdom, and guidance to do it this morning. I know a lot of you are sitting there, you know, wondering, “Ah, I wonder what it is all about?” Well really, all I can say is if you’re honest with God whether you know a whole lot about it or not, if you’re honest with God this morning he can put the Spirit of his Son inside you and can guide you on from that, you know. And if you want to talk to any of us afterwards, there are lots of kids here who experienced this and will share with you either here or in the entrance all, or if you want to talk during the week just call Ashland or call me and get together. But we have found that this does much better than the Ouija board, and the spiritualists, and really it is the answer and we’ve found it so we believe you can find it. Let us pray.Lord God, we thank you that you have not left us with no guidance. You have not left us with nearly counterfeits, but you have given us plain clear presentation of yourself and your own plan in your word and in Jesus your son. Now Lord God, if this is true, we would trust you by the Holy Spirit to reveal that truth to us and to make it real to us. Lord God, if we’re honestly seeking you we ask you now to make this real to us and enable us to see that this is more deeply true than it is intellectually acceptable. And oh Lord God, we would ask you to put the Spirit of your Son Jesus inside us to take away the emptiness and the loneliness, and the insecurity, and to enable us to be the people that you intended we should be at the beginning. We trust you to do this for the sake of your Son Jesus and so that we will please you and we will live the lives that we were made to live. Amen.
How to Become a Christian - REVIVAL
How to Become a Christian 2Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillI have sensed God saying to me that it’s very easy for us to come here Sunday after Sunday and be glad for what was sung to us this morning, and be excited you know, that people like Kent have experienced it and Helen, and we tend to enjoy being in this atmosphere. And yet, God witnessed to my own spirit that there was a great danger of us being snow bunnies, you know. And a snow bunny just goes on to the slopes, and looks beautiful but doesn’t ski. And it is very easy to get used to such a good atmosphere because this is the way God wants us to live, you know. Let’s face it, this is love and this is the way we’re supposed to live and it would be bad if this were not attractive or winsome. There’d be something wrong with it if God’s children were not more attractive in many ways than those who aren’t God’s children.But do you see brothers and sisters, that it isn’t enough to be snow bunnies? It isn’t enough to sit there and to watch, and to enjoy because you see that that can bring you into tremendous condemnation because in a real way we have a greater opportunity here to understand what our Creator wants us to do than anyone else in the whole world because again and again we see the joy of people who live in God and we also listen to the explanation of how to enter in. But there is a great danger that we with our student oriented habits will tend to study, and study, and analyze, and discuss, and argue, and admire, and then turn it over the other side and discuss that side, and admire, and look, and talk it over, and question and never really act. And loved ones, do you see that Jesus was wise when he said to us, “Listen, the first thing I want you to do is not to understand, and not to think, and not to discuss, and not to question, and not to talk about it, and look at it, and admire it, but the first thing I want you to do is to repent and believe in the gospel.”Now dear ones, it’s good for us to listen to a practical man like Jesus speaking very directly to people like ourselves who are in danger all the time of being academic and of thinking, and believing, and not acting. And do you see that the way into all this, the way into the life of God, the way into making your own life meaningful, the way into getting your own insignificance, the way into getting some purpose into your own life, but most of all the way into making your own life worthwhile and fulfilling the purpose for which you were created is to repent and believe in the gospel. You know? And you may say, “Well, I mean, why should I repent? I have not done anything very bad. I am not a Manson, I am not a prostitute, I am not an alcoholic, I have not destroyed my home, I have not wiped out millions of people, I have not destroyed thousands of people with guns, why should I repent?”And you know what Jesus said? He said, “Listen, all of you, even though you’re very respectable people to look at, and even though you’re very good people in many ways, yet all of you have sinned and you’ve fallen short of the glory of my Father.” And Jesus, who is the only one who can really give us any justifiable reason for accepting him as God’s son, he said to us, “Look, you’ve all fallen short of what my Father wanted you to be.” And you know dear ones, many of us opt out of the experience of Christianity at that point because we tend again, and again to sit back and say, “I agree with what you say, that all people as a general rule have sinned and I certainly can see it plainly in those miserable Irish that shoot one another. I can see that those people have sinned.” Or we say, “You know, I can see that Charles Manson has sinned. I can see that the men who fight in Vietnam they have sinned because they kill people.” And we often say, “I can see that the mafia have sinned. I can see that Nixon has sinned. I can see Lee Harvey-Oswald has sinned.” And do yousee we have a great danger of accepting ourselves.We have a great danger of saying, “I’m with you pastor, you go to it and you bring social action into the world and put all those people right because all of them have sinned. But, I’m glad that I have not sinned.” Now dear ones, do you see that many of us opt out of the experience of Jesus at that point? Because, we’ll agree that everyone has sinned but us, you see. All have sinned except the Presbyterians. All have sinned except the Baptist. All have sinned except the Catholics. All have sinned except the Methodist. All have sinned except the people who come to Campus Church. And dear ones, do you see it isn’t so? Jesus said that all of us have sinned, you know. Every one of us and you too as you sit there and I know you’re a great person in many ways, I know you can do many good things, and you have done many good things for people, and you’ve shown much kindness. But do you see that it’s Jesus who says, not on the basis of empirical observation but on the basis of his Father who knows all things that you have sinned. And the beginning of your coming together with God is believing what he says about you, and really it’s a first step you know, to admit that you have sinned.That even wonderful, magnificent, faultless you have actually sinned. And you know a lot of us feel, “Well, in what way sinned?” We can see how those primitive people in Old Testament days how they sinned. We can see that sin is disobeying God’s will in any way. We see that sin is not doing what God wants us to, and we can see that he said, “Though shalt have no other Gods before me,” and we can see how those miserable Jews had all kinds of idols and gods before Gods, and we can see that they have sinned and they deserve everything God is going to do to them. We can see that.But do you see dear ones, that we are naïve if we really believe that the Jews set up a god called Baal made of wood or stone and worshiped that? You know, they weren’t fools. They knew the stone didn’t move, they knew the stone wasn’t a god. Do you see that it was the meaning of the word Baal that was their god? That’s why it was called Baal, the word Baal in Hebrew means owner. It means somebody who gets things. And when they worship Baal, they weren’t worshipping a stone. They’re no fools, they weren’t so stupid that they thought that was a god. But they lived for getting things.You see, a god is what you live for. A god is what you’re thinking about most times when somebody asks you what are you thinking about. That’s your god. A god is what you spend most of your time and most of your energy in doing. A god is what you dedicate your future to and your life today to. And you see, for the Jews they were dedicating their lives, many of them, to getting things. They planned their futures with a view to how much they could get. They planned their careers with a view to how much money it would bring them. And they lived for getting things.When they got into tight situations where it was a choice of getting profit for themselves and doing somebody else some good, they got profit for themselves. And when you live for getting things, when you live preoccupied with your getting the clothes you want, or you’re getting the position or the job that you want or you deserve, when you live, you know, for getting the necessary books out of the library that you need whatever everybody else needs, do you see that is worshipping another God? That is setting up and getting acquisition as our guard.You know loved ones, a lot of us tear down the establishment and say that they’re living for what they can get. But dear ones, we often with our poverty, often with our sparsely furnished rooms, we are as covetous over the few things we have as they are over the many things. And do you see that it doesn’t take you to be rich to worship the god of getting? You can be poor and worship that god far more by coveting and wanting. Loved ones, I ask you, you know, what are your plans for your ownfuture and your own career, and what are the considerations that govern your plans? And so many of us talk so high and mighty about serving society and humanity, but deep, deep down in us it’s really the desire to get things.You know, we’ll be a social worker because a social worker pays a certain amount and you can live reasonably and do good. Or, we’d love to be a doctor or a dentist because you’re helping humanity and you’re getting. Now, do you see that it’s not that you can’t enter into some of those things, but you must enter into them with an honest motive. In other words, many of us sin because we live for getting.Another of the images they worshipped was Ashtoreth, the god of enjoyment. And that was really what they worshipped, it was enjoyment, it wasn’t a stone idol, it was the god of enjoyment and they just lived to enjoy themselves at all costs. Now, do you see that that’s what led into the Manson situation? Do you remember, that girl as she stuck the fork in the old man that she had killed and then the judge asked her why she did it and she said, “Because, I enjoyed it at that moment. That’s what I wanted to do at that moment so it was right.”But do you see loved ones, that when we act from that motive we’re just as great sinners as she is even though we haven’t killed anybody? When we make people suffer because we want to enjoy, then we are sinners too and that’s what sin is. You know, it’s worshipping the god of enjoyment at all costs. And you’re honest people and I ask you just to be honest in your own hearts, how many times, you know, we have walked over somebody else so we could get what enjoyment we wanted? Brothers and sisters, you know in our own relationships with each other we have often turned off a friend, we have often shrugged off a friend because there was a certain girl or a certain fella that we wanted at all costs to be with. And you know when that god of enjoyment lifts up in your mind everything goes to the side.Now do you see that is what Jesus meant? He said, “All of us have sinned,” and we’ve all fallen far short of God’s glory. And he said, “Listen, my Father cannot let people like that live. It he lets masses of you live throughout his universe who are living only for your own enjoyment and are living for what you can get, you’ll destroy his universe. You’ll make it an unfit place for dog, or animal, or beast, or man. You’ll destroy God’s own plan and his own purpose. Indeed, it’s either God lives with his idea of goodness or it’s you that live because the two can’t exist side-by-side.” And that’s why Jesus said, “The wages of sin is death,” you know.Loved ones, you know it. In our own experience here this morning you can see it. It only takes some dear one to come in among us this morning who does not love the same things we love, who does not treasure Jesus’ presence and that dear one can cut the atmosphere like a knife and you can see it. It only takes some dear one to come in among us who is not in sympathy with Christ and suddenly our own fellowship can be destroyed. Now, do you see it was the same with God? That the two things can’t exist side-by-side and that is why Jesus taught us that the wages of sin is death and that’s why many of us live in a terrible angst, a terrible worry of an impending disaster, because dear ones we are under condemnation to death many of us. Many of us have never made things right with God. Many of us have never stopped worshipping other gods and therefore we are actually under condemnation from the Creator of the universe and that’s what we’re living with.Loved ones, many of us are not really worried about the mushroom cloud. Many of us are not really worried about our futures. Many of us are really worried behind all those things about the fact that deep down our conscious registers that we are sinners and God is going to destroy us at the endof this world. And that’s why many of us have worry and trouble in our consciences and in our emotions.Now you know, it’s no use saying, “Oh well, that’s only the very bad sinners that God condemns to death.” You see that the heart of sin is living for yourself. It doesn’t matter what degree of living for yourself is true in your life, it’s living for yourself is sin. You know, sin is the S-I-N, it is the great I, I want to enjoy myself, I want to get, I want to rule, I want to have my way whatever anybody else wants. And do you see that that’s why God says that all of us have sinned and fallen short and death is going to take place in all of us even if we’ve sinned a very little or a great deal because there aren’t really degrees of sin. There are degrees of vices. There are degrees of immorality. There are degrees of crimes, but there is no degree of sin you see.You know, there was a story told and you probably read it before and I’ve shared it with some of you before about the two men. And one of them, you know, is like ourselves, we are very good respectable people and we have sinned very, very little. And this young man has kept his body in good state, and it’s in good physical condition and he’s like us, he’s like us good and noble sinners. And then there’s a very old man, a very old man who has worn himself out by bad habits, has drunk his liver into an unhealthy condition, has destroyed his body and he’s about 75 years of age and he’s standing there. And in front of them is a great gulf, it’s about 50 foot across and it’s 500 foot cliffs on each side, and a great rocky gorge with pointed jagged rocks underneath. And the old man says, “Well, I’m going to try and jump that gulf,” and many of us are like that.Many of us know, “Well, I want to be with God, I want to live for him, I want to be where he is, I want to get to the other side. I don’t want to have that uncertainty that Hamlet had. I don’t want to feel that there’s an unknown country on the other side, I want to get over there.” So we’re like the young man and he wants to jump to the other side, and the old man decides he’ll go first and he totters back a few steps and he takes a run, and of course he only jumps about four feet and he goes down to the rocks below and he’s killed. And we tend to say, “You see, well that’s those great sinners that’s what should happen to them. I can see God has to wipe out Hitler, he can’t have a Hitler in heaven without destroying heaven. I can see how a Hitler must die, I can see how a [Mussolini 16:15] must die. I can see how Manson must die. I can see how these people who have sinned greatly must die.”And then the young man comes and he is in good physical condition, has looked after himself, has not sinned much and so he takes a massive leap. He takes a great run and he leaps, and it’s a mighty leap, it’s 39 feet and it’s a world record, and he falls short. And do you see, that it doesn’t matter dear ones? It doesn’t matter that it was a world record, it doesn’t matter that you’re so much better than the person down the road, it doesn’t matter that you’re so much better than you ever thought you could be? Do you see that God says, “You’ve fallen short. You were made to be like my Son Jesus. I made you to be like Jesus and that’s why I created you and you’ve fallen short of that and nobody less than Jesus can continue to live for eternity in my universe without destroying my universe.” And that’s why dear ones, all of us are under condemnation to death and that’s where the gospel comes in you know.I think a lot of us say, “Well, what can we do about it? We can try harder.” Well, do you see there’s no point in the poor fella trying harder when he hits those rocks. There’s no point trying harder to be done, there’s a penalty that has come about and it’s been exercised upon him and he has to face it. There is no trying harder. I came here ’63 and we drive on the left hand side of the road which is the correct side of the road for any sensible person to drive. And when I came overhere I had to learn to drive on the right hand side and so I tried it my own way for two weeks [inaudible 18:00]. So I drove on the right hand side of the road, and I was just learning your signs you know on the street corners, and I was learning to read those signs do not turn left between four and six o’clock which is obviously a sacred time of some kind.So, I concentrated on that and I came along at one time between four and six o’clock and I turned left and one of your gallant police officers came up and asked me what I thought I was doing. And I explained to him, “Well I turned left.” And he said, “Yeah, but it’s between four and six o’clock,” and I said, “Ah yeah, I’m sorry I’m just new in the country. I’ve just come here and I’m just getting to know your signs.” And he said, “Well, that’s good. You better try harder because it will save you $10 next time.” And I said, “Well, listen officer I haven’t even taken this driving test here, I’m driving on my British license so would you consider that? I’m going to take the test, I’m going to learn your laws, and I’ll be careful every time I come to this corner.” And he said, “Well, that’s good it will save you another $10.” And I could make all kinds of substitute penalties and could suggest all other answers to the problem, but do you see that either I had to pay the $10 or somebody had to pay it for me?Now, do you see that’s our situation loved ones? You know, the psychologists try to psychoanalyze out of a sense of impending disaster. The psychologists try to persuade us that this guilt comes because our pet dog rejected us when we were children. We try in all kinds of ways to deal with the guilt and to psych ourselves out of it. But do you see dear ones, there is no way to deal with the guilt because it is God’s penalty. God has said, “Listen, if you sin you’re guilty death. That’s the only way I can remain the just authority in the universe, and you have to die or somebody has to die for you because I cannot revoke the penalty. If I revoke the penalty you’d laugh at me. You wouldn’t accept that I was credible as a just God. My mercy would not be possible because I would have no moral authority.” And do you see that that’s the gospel?That God has commanded his love towards us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for you. And loved ones, you should have died for every dirty thought that you’ve ever had, you see? But Jesus took that thought into his own conscience and he allowed God’s wrath to burn up that thought inside him. See you and I should have died for every time we’ve coveted anything, every time we’ve tried to do some one down in order to get what we wanted, but Jesus took that into his own conscience and he died for that.In other words, Jesus knows everything that you’ve ever had in your heart that has been wrong but he not only knows it but he knows the pain that came upon him for that. And God has died in Jesus for you and that’s why you don’t need to die. And there’s no reason for any of us to be under guilt this morning. There’s no reason for any of us to fear an impending disaster because Jesus has died and has met that impending disaster for us and we’re free.Now many of us say, “Well, I understand that intellectually but I tell you I still have worry and apprehension in my own heart. I’d tell you I still do feel the mushroom cloud, I still am afraid of death.” Do you see dear ones, that though Jesus has died for us you have to enter into this yourself personally? In other words, you don’t get it by being a snow bunny, you don’t get it by being a spectator, and seeing it, and believing it. Satan believed it, the devils in hell believed that Jesus died for our sins, but do you see that you do not experience reconciliation with God, you do not receive the Spirit of God’s life into yourself, you do not know freedom from fear until you personally move into this.How do you move into it? Jesus made it very plain, he said the first thing you do is you confess the things that you know are wrong in your life. You stop trying to argue that you’ve never sinned. The first step is you confess your sins. And brothers and sisters, you know many of us have got all caught up in this business of confession. We’ve thought that it meant just confessing to a priest, or confessing out loud. The Greek word for confession means I raise up my hand and I agree with God that what he says is wrong, is wrong.Brothers and sisters, if God has continued to say, you know, sexual sin, promiscuity, masturbation, envy, jealousy, anger, greed, if he has continued to say to your heart, “Look, these things are wrong,” then confession is saying, “I’m not going to argue any longer God. I confess that is a sin, I agree it’s wrong. I’m not going to try to justify myself any further.” And you see it’s the first step, and honest confession dear ones of the things that you’re arguing with God about.You see, many of you say, “Oh but why couldn’t I experience God the way some of those other people have?” Do you see it’s because you won’t deal with God about the things he’s been pointing out to you for years. You’re still trying to prove that it’s right for you to do it. Brothers, I did it in my own life in personal things. I tried to prove that I was in a certain set of circumstances which justified this, or I was the certain kind of personality that needed this kind of outlet or fulfillment. Do you see that confession is agreeing with God that these things are wrong? That’s the first break in the whole game you know. Many of us are under constant strain and stress because we won’t make that first break. We won’t start agreeing with God that those things are wrong.The second step is just repentance, you know. Jesus said, “Listen, unless you repent every one of you will perish.” And the second step is just an honest repentance, and repentance is not only saying to God, “I’m sorry for causing your son to die for my sins.” It’s not only crying over the mess you’ve made of your life, it’s not only being sorry for the people you’ve hurt, but it’s really stopping sinning. You know? I think a lot of us enter into pseudo experiences of Christ because we come up at a grey meeting, or some other kind of meeting, or we pray through in our rooms, or we deal with God in our minds and we confess all the things and we say we’re sorry and we feel a real sorrow in our hearts, but we don’t stop doing the sins and repentance is you stop doing those things.You don’t do them any longer. You just stop doing them. And I think a number of us, you know, probably need to realize it and I think I’ve shared this with you before so it’s not really new to all of you at all, but it’s possible you know for Kent who sang this morning, it’s possible for him to say to me, “Now pastor, this is a picture. This is a picture of my girlfriend,” and I don’t know if you have a girlfriend, “This is a picture of my girlfriend and me and it’s very precious to us both and we’d like you to have it but we’d like you to take care of it.” And I take it from him and I say, “Oh, yeah thanks kid,” but I’ve torn it. And I say, “Kent, I’m really sorry I’ve torn that. I really am sorry. Kent, I’m really sorry I’m tearing up this picture because I really respect what you say and I really don’t want to tear it up and I tell you I’m really, really sorry and I’m repenting.”Well loved ones, you know, but do you see that’s what we do? We say, “Lord God, I know my uncleanness, I know my dirty thoughts crucified your son. I know my greed was a spear in his side, but Lord, I’m really sorry, I’m really sorry.” And loved ones, God recognizes not what we say but what we do and that’s why repentance needs to be something definite and real. Many of us have entered into pseudo emotional experiences of Jesus because we have not had done with our sins. We haven’t stopped doing them, not for a minute. We’ve asked Jesus to come in on top of them all andyou see, he won’t do it.The last step is really just receiving him. If you are honest in your confession and your repentance God will put the Spirit of his Son Jesus into your life and that’s what has enabled many of us to be changed people, because there’s a super natural spirit of Jesus that has all the goodness of Jesus inside him. And he transmits all that to us miraculously. And that’s why, you know, at times we think of ourselves as new creations because we’re different people entirely because we’ve received the Spirit of Jesus inside us.Now if you don’t honestly confess, and honestly repent then what you enter into is an emotional osmosis, or an intellectual assent or appropriation of truth and intellectual concept. And many of use, you see, are in that position. We have given assent to these things, but we know in our own lives we aren’t really Christians because we haven’t been honest in our confession and repentance.Well dear ones, that is really the way to become a Christian, you know, and if you’re really concerned about it then I do ask you to just deal with God this morning. I’d rather not spend time because we are a little over time, and I’d rather not spend time having a long prayer time here this morning, but I would ask you if you know you should make a definite step with Jesus, then as we sing that last hymn you can go round and we can pray in there on the stage afterwards. I think that’s the best place, it’s the only place we have where we can pray. But if you want to take a definite step and you’ve fiddled along for years and you’ve never taken a definite stand of faith, then you should do it you know.Now it’s not vital to come forward, no you can do it in your seat, you can do it at home when you go home, but it is a definite step that you take, you see. And so I ask you to consider it, you know, as we sing the last hymn and it does demand just those three steps and God will put the Spirit of his Son into your life. You will become a different person.
A New Start - REVIVAL
A New Start – 1975Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillI think we all thank God for the gifts that he’s given to the whole body, but Colleen really has a gift that Jesus has given her of writing songs, you know, and it’s just a blessing and I think you feel the same. And I think we should trust Jesus to multiply that creative life among us. And he respects us really, to produce a creativity that will bring to the world life. So, we need to trust Jesus for that, for all of us, whatever our particular abilities are. Loved ones, trust Jesus to do something new through you, you know, really do.Many of us have come here Sunday-after-Sunday now for some years and probably most of us here believe there is a God. And perhaps most of us believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. What I would like to do this morning, very simply, is to tell you what Jesus’ ideas are about your life so that you may know what he thinks you should do. And then I would ask you just to do it at the end of the service, really. So that’s it.First of all, Jesus says you aren’t going to last long. You just aren’t made to last long. There are millions of cells dying in your body during this present minute and there’ll be millions more dying the next minute. So in a real sense, most of us here are at least at that stage in our lives where there are more millions of cells dying than are being renewed, so in a real way loved ones, all of us here in this auditorium, probably maybe the youngest might be what 15, 16, 17? All of us in this auditorium are really dying me and women in that sense, you know.The physical and mental life that we have will certainly not last much longer than at least our grandparents, 70 or 80 years. And Jesus says that to us this morning. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. The physical and the mental life that you have is just not going to last very long and so in a real way your days are numbered. And secondly Jesus says you won’t believe that. You won’t believe that. That’s the way he put it to some people who refused to believe him. He said, “They will not believe. They don’t want to believe and therefore they will not believe.” He says, you think you were made for more than that, for better things than that. You think you were made to do more than to go out like a light after 70 years here on earth.” And he says, “That’s why you keep trying to parlay the attributes of physical and mental life you have into the qualities of infinity that you would like to have, because there’s something inside you that keeps saying, ‘All this surely was not created just to end like that after 70 years in nothingness.’” And so you keep trying to avoid the limitations of the created life that you have, and you keep trying to escape from the bonds of this earthbound existence at catching at some of the equalities of infinity. And you will not believe that what you’ve got at the moment is not going to take you beyond this finite world.So really what you do is you feel you were made for stability and safety, and security. And isn’t that true? There’s something inside all of us that makes us feel we were made for stability, we ought to have stability. That’s why we’re so much in trouble at a time of depression or at a time of war, we feel we were made for a secure, stable, safe life. And so what most of us are doing is trying to use the cleverness, and the shrewdness of our minds to ensure that kind of life, and to catch at that stability that is only possible in infinity. So we educate in order to survive, and we get the education that will help us to survive, because that’s our first battle. Then we trade in the degree for the best kind of financial reward we can get, and so we continue to live our finite lives trying to produce the security and stability that we again, and again feel isn’tpossible.So we keep trading up the cars, and trading up the houses with the thought in the back of our minds that we can probably never trade them into absolute certainty but at least we should keep trying, we should keep using the old mind to try and make ourselves secure and stable. And so we use our mind at work to try to edge ourselves into a position of security in relationship to our colleagues or in relationship to our rivals. And we keep trying to improve our investments to the point where we somehow will get that security or stability. And we keep trying to build as cast iron life insurance and medical insurance package as we possibly can. And yet all the time a fella like Howard Hughes haunts us because there we see a fella that has built up more than we could possibly ever hope to build up and yet he keeps himself in seclusion so that he can avoid the possibility of any kind of disease or bacteria that would kill him.And so we sense in the midst of all this using our minds to try and ensure the security, and stability of infinite life, we still kind of feel like we can’t get it. And we kind of sense that we were made for the serene peace and yet the overwhelming interest that you would be able to have, in we always think of it as some fancy island which would be a combination of Walden Pond and the Arabian Knights. And we kind of think, “Yeah, somewhere in this life we’re supposed to experience not only complete serenity and peace because that in itself will be boring, but it’s supposed to be combined with a tremendous exhilaration and excitement that would keep our lives continually satisfying.” And we kind of feel yeah, we were made for that, and so of course we try to produce it and we try to use every experience, and every relationship we possibly can to produce this combination of serene peace and overwhelming excitement. And yet somehow, however many people we use and however many circumstances we try to manipulate for our own purposes we find that we don’t have that serene peace, or that overwhelming excitement.In fact, in some ways we find that we’re utterly frustrated about those things. And again, and again we experience not serene peace and overwhelming excitement but even times like Thanksgiving day when we find ourselves with the dear ones that we want to be with most, we find often that there comes a sense of loneliness or a sense of desolation, a sense of not all that conviviality and excitement of that relationship you felt you should have throughout your life. And it’s the same loved ones you know with really what Milton used to talk about. Milton used to say, “I am born for some great purpose,” and I don’t know that there’s any of us here however ambitionless we are that hasn’t felt at some time, “Yeah, we were born for something special. We were put here for some special purpose. We weren’t put here just to have our name on a gravestone. We weren’t put here just to pass like a ship in the night through this world and nobody noticed that we were ever here. We weren’t put here just to be a number, we were put here to be significant in some way. Somebody, some way, somewhere, somehow must know we’re here, must see that we’re achieving something. We’re not just one of a mass of billions and billions of people.”And so you know we work ourselves to death trying to will ourselves into some position of importance and so we throw our weight around in the office, and we throw our weight around at home, and we throw our weight around in school hoping that somehow we’ll will ourselves into a place where people can’t just ignore us, they have to recognize us and appreciate us.” And yet at the end of the day we’re just startled by the few people that remember Jack Benney, and he died just this past year. And if it weren’t for the commission that keeps on bringing up the morbid business of how he died, really how many think of John F. Kennedy? And we’re amazed at how the Picassos and the Roosevelt’s, and the Jack Benney’s of this world can pass off the face of the earth and it’s amazing how few people think of them afterwards.And loved ones, Jesus says to us, “That’s because what is born of the flesh is flesh,” and what you’re trying to do is take the finite, limited attributes of your created physical and mental life and you’re trying to produce all the liberty of eternity, all the freedom of an infinite life even though all that you’ve got is a limited finite life. A physical and mental life that can never imitate anything but that life. And so Jesus says, “Really, you can never be anything different from what you are because the life that you possess is what ties you down to that and all that you’re becoming with all your efforts is a little monster because you’re trying to bring everything and everybody to the place where you somehow can experience the infinite happiness, and serenity, and peace, and exhilaration, the tremendous since of significance, the great sense of security and stability, that you could only experience if you had an infinite life inside you. And you’re really using everybody to try and create this and so you’re becoming a massive, hedonistic, manipulating, domineering, ruling monster and that’s really what you’ve become.An egotistical monster that is trying to manipulate all this created life around you so that somehow you will experience some of the qualities of an infinite life and Jesus says it cannot be and yet he really does bring us good news loved ones because he says those yearnings that you have inside you for serenity and peace, for exhilaration and excitement, those yearnings that you have inside you to have some eternal significance, those yearnings you have inside you to have at last a security, and a stability that you don’t have to continually fight for. Those yearnings that you have to be something other than a little wild animal in the forest looking around to see who’s going to attack him next. Those yearnings that you have were put in you by your Creator because he actually made you for that kind of life. But this is not it.And loved ones, Jesus is just so strong in that. He just emphasizes repeatedly, “No, this life that you have at the present time is not that life.” And he says, “The life that you’re trying to use is that physical life there.” And at times when you try to manipulate your time by chemicals, or you try to manipulate your emotions by stimulations, at times you even use a mental life in there. But Jesus says, “There is within you another part that is deeper,” and it’s the part that will satisfy all those yearnings, and it’s the part that is made for infinity.” But he says really to us, with almost all of you, it’s absolutely dead. That part of you is dead. And until that part comes alive, you’re going to experience continual frustration trying to do on this level and this level what alone can be done in here by this infinite part of you.And he says that part of you can only come alive if the maker who made you brings it to life through the power of his own spirit life. Through the power of his own infinite eternal life that runs through his own being. Only he can bring this part alive. That’s why Jesus said those words. You’ve all been born once. You’ve all been born of the flesh and you got from your mum and dad physical and a mental life. But you have to be born anew. You have to be born all over again. The maker of the world never meant you to make do with that life. He intends you to be born again. And that’s why Jesus said to that teacher Nicodemus, “Look, you have to be born anew all over again.” You have to start all over again. You have to be born from above. And the only way you will be born from above inside in your spirit is by God’s Holy Spirit coming in and regenerating, activating your own spirit and making it alive.Then when that happens, that spirit of life from your maker will begin to work out through every part of your personality and it will impart to your mind here, a right perspective and a sense of where you fit into God’s plan for developing the world. That spirit will pour out through your emotions and will impart to you all the excitement, and the serenity, and the peace of an infiniteintercourse and friendship with the eternal being behind the universe, and will be utterly satisfying to your emotions. The Holy Spirit will pour out through your will and will begin to direct you as to what you should do in this life so that at last you’ll have a real sense of significance because you can see where you fit into the Maker’s plan.And loved ones, that was his plan, that you would allow his Spirit to bring you alive in your spirit and then his lights would begin to pour out through you to the rest of the world. And the one great obstacle to that is that this physical and mental personality of yours has become utterly unfitted for that. This physical and mental personality has become a domineering, manipulating, egotistical, self-gratifying, self-deifying monster. And all it does and all its been able to do for years is to take in from the world, to take in from the world trying to create a sense of eternity within by sponging from other people on the outside. And of course, while that personality remains like that God dare not give you such an infinite power as the Holy Spirit.This Holy Spirit is the person he used to make the ocean and the mountains. It’s this Holy Spirit that holds all the protons and neutrons together here in our universe. It’s this Holy Spirit that makes the whole universe work at this present time. It’s this Holy Spirit that keeps the pressure right here on the surface of the earth so that we don’t cave in and we don’t blow up. It’s this Holy Spirit that keeps the sun in the right position. God dare not give the power of that infinite Holy Spirit to you with a personality that would use it only to gratify and deify itself, and to dominate the rest of the universe.And so loved ones, unless that personality of yours with all its selfishness, and all its self-deification can be destroyed, God cannot give you the Holy Spirit. And yet, that’s what you and I most need. We need this infinite spirit of life. It doesn’t matter how many drugs we take, it doesn’t matter how much alcohol we take, it doesn’t matter how much money we amass in the bank account, it doesn’t matter how fast a car we get, it doesn’t matter if we go on vacation every other week, it doesn’t matter what we do, we are never going to satisfy the infinite yearnings that have been planted inside of us. Loved ones, you’re demanding too much from your husband. You’re demanding too much from your wife. You’re demanding too much from your employees or your employer, they cannot produce in you these things that only the infinite spirit of God can produce and that can only come into you if that personality is destroyed and that’s what happened in Jesus on Calvary.That’s what it means when the Bible says, “You’re old self, your whole personality was crucified with Christ.” All that mess with all its domineering selfishness was destroyed in Jesus on Calvary in a supra spacial supra temporal miracle. And the fact is because God is eternal and could destroy you 1900 years ago even though you’re alive today, because he is infinite he is able to do this today. That’s really what it means you see.Maybe you’d look loved ones, at just some of the things that happened on Calvary. It’s Psalms 22:16. Psalm 22:16, this is one of those Psalms you know, that in an amazing prophetic way tell what Jesus was saying in his own heart on the cross, “Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots.” “They have pierced my hands and feet.”Loved ones, your hands have been used so often to gratify yourself that God could not entrust the Holy Spirit to such hands. Your hands have been used so often to get your own way that those handscannot be used by this Spirit of God that is used only to express love and to give. That’s why your hands were miraculously destroyed in Jesus. Loved ones, that’s the only reason God is able to even consider giving you the Holy Spirit because your hands were pierced in Jesus’ hands. Those feet of yours that have so often gone to the wrong place, those feet that have so often been used to get what you wanted for you. Those feet could not be used by the Spirit of God.That’s why when Jesus died you died. That’s why the Bible says, “We judge that if he died for all then all died.” Your feet were destroyed in Jesus on Calvary. That’s what it means loved ones, when the Bible says, “God made him to be sin who knew no sin.” God actually put all your independence, and all your desire for self into Jesus and destroyed it there. And because of that, he’s able to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who will receive that Holy Spirit. And so loved ones, that’s really it.God offers you, this morning, the Spirit of his own infinite life and if you want it you have to do two things: you have to accept by faith the destruction of that inturned personality of yours, that personality that has cared for itself for so long, that personality that wants its own way whatever it costs anybody else, you need to accept the death of that old personality with Jesus; and you have to be willing for that.In other words, you have to stop living for yourself. You have to stop turning in on yourself. You have to stop referring every event, and every situation, and every job opportunity, and everything anybody asks you to do to yourself and whether it’s going to benefit you, whether it’s going to make you happy, you have to once and for all say, “I’m finished with that. It’ll leave me nowhere anyway, but above all God it’s against your will for me. So today I’m accepting that you destroyed that inturned personality of mine on Jesus on Calvary and I accept that and I’m willing for that.”Loved ones, you have to turn from self. You have to take self off the throne of your own life and you have to give yourself to God and say, “Lord God, I’ve lived for myself these years and it’s a mess. I’m prepared now to live for the purpose for which you made me, for you.” And secondly, you have to receive the Holy Spirit by faith. You have to say, “Lord, you promised that you’d give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. Jesus said that, ‘How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them who asked.’ Lord you promised that. I receive you Holy Spirit to be all that I need in my present life, all that my Father wants me to have.” Loved ones, that’s it, that’s what Jesus said and that’s what it is to be born of God if you do that, or to be born again.It’s a lesser thing to call it becoming a Christian. Really, that’s our name for it these days. Jesus would have said, “It’s entering into reality. It’s coming free at last. It’s being liberated from yourself. It’s at last entering into all the aspirations that my Father planted inside your heart. So loved ones, really it’s up to you, you know. I would ask you from my own experience, I would ask you not to wait for some emotional experience, really. I didn’t have it. My wife didn’t have it. Many of us here hadn’t a great emotional experience, if you understand what I’ve explained to you about Jesus’ ideas for your life, then you should just take the step now.Just in a minute or two I’ll say let us pray and you should just take the step. But you can see what it means, it means turning from living for yourself and it means depending on this Holy Spirit to produce in you the kind of life that your Maker wants you to have. And of course, anybody it doesn’t matter whether you’re a skeptic or not, anybody here knows the one that knows how to run the factory is the one that made the factory. It’s just common sense that the God who made you knows the kind of life that will be fulfilling for you.So loved ones you’ve got what I said now, if you’re not what people call a Christian, that name can mean a lot of things but, if you’re not what people call a Christian but the big thing is you know. You know because some of you have talked with me and you know where you are, if you haven’t taken this step I say you should take it this morning. If you say to me, “Well pastor, why take a definite step?” Loved ones, God answers only faith. Really.I tried to get into it by osmosis, I tried to drift into it. You can’t. You have to take a definite step, truly, truly. I think – I don’t know quite why it is, with me I think the old mind was so much king that I think God wanted me to declare I’m going out on a limb here, it’s a reasonable limb, but I’m going out on a limb expecting somebody else to do something. I felt so much it was all in my own control in the past. Lord, as an expression of my trust in you I’m going to trust you to do this thing I don’t even know what it is. I don’t even know if I’ll feel any different. I don’t know what it is, but I know these things that you’ve spoken about this morning are what I know in my life and I need and I’m going to take the step.So loved ones, I’d really encourage you just to take a step today, this morning. I’ll help you in the prayer if that’s of any use, but really if you’re real with God this morning yourself that’s all you need it doesn’t matter what words you use. Let us pray.Lord God, some of us here hardly know how to talk to you, or how to express this, but all of us Lord, know what your son has said and it does ring in our own hearts because our own lives have not been very satisfying, and we have tried to somehow wind these attributes that we have here on earth, wind them up to the nth degree to try and produce some kind of satisfaction, or sense of infinity. But Lord, we know that it has not worked. And Lord God, what your son Jesus has said makes sense to us, that we were made for something other than our names to be put on a gravestone. We were made for something other than few to remember us for a few years.And Lord God, we want to get into the main stream of the plan that you have for our lives. So Lord, we bring before you now our own selfish life. Lord, we bring before you all the things that we have done to try and get satisfaction. We bring before you Lord, all the people that we have used. We bring before you all the circumstances that we’ve tried to manipulate for our own good. Lord, we see how we are like frightened little foxes in the forest, always on the lookout, always filled with flight or fright. Lord God, we bring this selfish egotistical hedonistic life before you and Lord, we don’t know how you bring about its death but we believe that Jesus did rise from the dead and we believe that what he says did happen, that we were somehow in the infinity of eternity, crucified with him.Now Lord, we accept that and we’re willing to be made real now in us today. Lord, we ask you now to make this real in us, to make real in us this death to self once and for all so that we’re finished with this living for ourselves, so that it is as if we’re no longer alive. We’ve no longer ourselves to look after. Lord, we want to let this self and all its parasitism be buried in the tomb with Jesus, and Lord we want that stoned rolled over it today for good. Lord, we trust you now, we know that you will roll that stone over if we will let you. So Lord, we confess to you all the sin that fills our life. One-by-one we name them to you and we tell you that we’re finished with them, we’re turning from that kind of existence. With or without the Holy Spirit Lord, we’re determined to get finished with this kind of life that we’re living.Lord, we’re putting the bank account into your hands, all these other things that we’ve held ontoand tried to multiply into some kind of goldmine, we’re putting it all into your hands Lord. We’re letting this old self die. And now Father, you have promised that you’ll give the Holy Spirit to them that ask. Father, it’s your life that we need so we ask you now for the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, will you come in now and make us alive inside? There’s been a great hole in the center of our lives that has been emptied for years, will you come in and make it alive?We don’t even need to know that it’s alive Holy Spirit, we don’t even demand that we be conscious of it, we are willing to trust you. Will you energize our spirits and make us alive with God’s life? And will you live out through us God’s love, and God’s direction, and God’s rule? Holy Spirit, we would take a step now and thank you for coming in. Thank you that you are faithful and that tomorrow and Monday morning we can bank on you for direction as to what we should do at each moment. We thank you.
Is Jesus God’s Son? - REVIVAL
The Word Became FleshSermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillOne of the situation comedies on television this season that has not bombed yet, but is just on the edge is Sanford & Son , you know it, Sanford & Son. And the two littlest guys several weeks ago were talking to the neighbor who was kind of a traditional God fearing red blooded American. And the little guys of course, were very skeptical about the existence of God. And this poor neighbor was doing his best to give all the best answers, and at last of course, the little guy said, “Okay, okay, if he exists what does he look like?” And the neighbor kind of thought for a while and he said, “Well, he’s very old and he has a long white beard, dressed in a long white gown.” And they kind of sensed that this was an opportunity to get some inside information and they therefore went on and said, “What kind of car does he drive?” And the poor old neighbor thinks for a while and says, “Well, I don’t know but if I was him I’d drive a white Lincoln Continental.”And you know, when we are driven into thinking, “I wonder what God is really like?” You do find your mind turning into that kind of thinking, don’t you? And yet, you know it’s silly, but you kind of think a wee bit in those terms. And down through the centuries that’s what has happened loved ones. Man has varied from one extreme of God as a kind of old, indulgent, nodding, distant, man looking down from them from a great distance, varied from that kind of picture of God to the other kind of cruel, tyrannical, unforgiving being that is pictured in the Hindu God Shiva. And down through history man has varied from one in extreme to the other in trying to picture God.Man has always had the sense to know that there must be somebody as personable as himself to have created the universe with all the order ad design that is in it. But when it came to picturing what that God was like, he’s varied from making the God too transcendent, that is somebody that was too distant, too separated, too much apart from us to somebody who was too imminent, too much part of us, too much in the middle of us. In other words, at times man has pictured God in the way the neighbor did picture him, an old gentlemen living in heaven, looking at us from a great distance, and not absolutely sure what’s happening to us.But at other times man has tried to worship even nature itself as the bringer of rain, and the bringer of crops, and the bringer of heat, and light, even worshipped nature in the form of conscience as the bringer of morals, and the one who decides what is the difference between right and wrong. But whatever way we have pictured him there has always been great mystery about it. All of our ideas have been shrouded in uncertainty. One religious leader would say this, another philosopher would say that, one dad would explain it this way to his son, another mum would explain it this way. One myth would describe God this way, another myth would describe him another way, and it all has been shrouded with mystery and uncertainty so that countless millions of us have gone into death not really sure what the person would be like that we’d face on the other side.Now loved ones, 1981 years ago all that mystery disappeared. 1981 years ago the Son of the Maker of the world, the Son of our God came into our earth as a human being and suddenly all the mystery was cleared away. Suddenly all the questions, “What would God do if he was in this situation,” were answered. Suddenly, all the vague philosophical concepts to explain the existence of the one true God were wiped away and settled. Suddenly all the opinions, all the vague generalizations disappeared in the body of a little baby in Bethlehem. Suddenly no man or no woman had to be in doubt about the kind of person they would meet, and the kind of person they would have to give account to at the end of their lives. Suddenly all the questions were settled about what our Godwas like, 1981 years ago when God became one of us and we saw in absolute detail the way he would talk to certain people, the way he would walk, the way he would act, the way he thought. That’s really the heart of Christmas. That’s the meaning of it.That now we know what God is like. Now none of us need be in any doubt what the person who made us is really like. I think a lot of us respond at that point by saying, “Well, how can you be sure?” We admit Confucius was a great philosopher, we admit Mohammad was a great religious teacher, we’ll admit that Buddha was a great leader, but we’ve never called them God. Now why do you think it’s reasonable to call Jesus God? To regard Jesus as the special unique only begotten Son of our Creator in a way that we are not his sons? Why is it reasonable to call Jesus God, or to believe that obscure pheasant who was born in Bethlehem, and spent all of his life in such a very small area of the world’s surface, and talked to so few people, why should we believe that that obscure little pheasant who was a carpenter was really the Son of the Maker of the universe?Well loved ones, there are all kinds of reasons. He really did talk like God. If you think of it, you know, he really did talk like God. When he was 12 year old, and his parents found that he was no longer with him on the way home from Jerusalem, they went back to the city and they found him in the temple, and they asked him what he was doing, and he said, “Didn’t you know I’d be about my Father’s business?” Now his Father’s business was carpentry, but he was discussing theological issues with the doctors in the temple. And Mary did not strangely immediately say, “You’re a fool.” But she just pondered those things in her heart, because obviously this little boy was sufficiently different from other little guys to make her sense there was something different about him besides what she had observed at the birth. And it went on like that.He didn’t teach like the Pharisees, “Well I think this, Josepheus taught this, Moses taught this, but I think that.” He taught with authority. He taught with a sense, “This is the way it is.” So he talked with the kind of authority that you would expect the maker of the universe to have. Oh, there are other things, you know, if you’d like to look at them. Look at Matthew 16 loved ones, because that’s something that makes this man very different from all others. If you just open up that chapter I’ll explain it to you before we look at the verse. It’s Matthew 16, every other philosopher or religious teacher sets his teaching up here, says, “Don’t look at me look at the teaching.”I think every one of us, we do it ourselves, don’t we? We say, “Look, don’t look at me I’m not the important thing. It’s the truth that’s important.” That’s the way every human being act. Now, this man pointed out that his teaching is not the important thing, it’s him that’s important. I mean, that is hideous. Either he is an absolute megalomaniac, or this is really true. But, he did treat himself differently loved ones, to the way ordinary human beings treat themselves as authorities.Now, you have it in Matthew 16:15, “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’” And he pressed on that, you see. Another person would have said, “Ah, it doesn’t matter who I am it’s the teaching that’s important.” But he said, “Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’” He obviously talked, you know, as if the Creator of the universe was his special Father and he obviously encouraged other people to feel that way about him, and he put himself above his teaching. And you know, he claimed attributes for himself that only God has. He claimed attributes of eternity for himself that only God has. He talked about seeing himself as seeing God. He said, “If you’ve seenme you’ve seen my Father.” He said, “If you’ve received me you’ve received my Father.”Now loved ones, this obscure pheasant was born in Bethlehem 1981 years ago, claimed that he was the Son of the Creator of the universe and he talked as if he were. Now that’s the first reason I think why you have to consider the possibility that he was. Because I think the next step is that many of us say, “Well, the psych wards are full of such people.” The psych wards are full of people who are making all kinds of claims like that and the world has been full of gurus down through the centuries who have tried to draw everybody’s attention to them so there’s nothing different about that.That’s why loved ones, I think you have to examine the claims and you have to determine, “Alright, was this man a liar? Did he know that he was not divine? Did he know that he was not the only begotten Son of the Maker of the universe, but he deliberately deceived all of us in order to lend authority to his teaching?” You have to decide, you know, is that it? Was he a con man who lied to the whole world about himself?Now, do you see the logical difficulty you get into? Do you see the irrational approach you get into if you believe that? There is not one philosopher in the world who does not say that this Jesus was not the greatest ethical teacher in the world. There’s not one person. Huxley – British cynic that he is, he admitted, “Yes, this was the greatest ethical teacher in the world.” Mohammad, other great teachers will say, “Yes, Jesus is the greatest ethical teacher in the world.”Loved ones, how can he be the greatest ethical teacher in the world if on the central point of his teaching his own identity he lied? You cannot respect his ethical teaching at all points and then say, “Yeah, but he lied about the central most important point that he taught us.” You cannot do it. It’s an illogical impossibility. You either have to say, “If he lied about that then all the rest is untrue and does not work in this life,” or you have to say, “All the rest is higher than any other man who ever taught us.” And therefore, we have to believe if he had such wisdom as that, as produced that kind of ethical teaching, then he must be honest on the central point of his teaching his own identity as the Son of the Maker of the universe.In other words, it’s very hard to believe that he is a liar. Was he a lunatic? Was he a megalomaniac? Was he another Hitler, or another Moon with that unification church? Was he another man who wanted to make himself better than everybody else? Was he in fact, insane? And it’s really hard to believe it, isn’t it? His life is a pattern of sanity. His life has none of the abnormality or imbalance that schizophrenics would have, or that megalomaniacs would have. In fact, C. S. Lewis you remember, points out that no one has been able to explain how a megalomaniac could produce teaching that is so sublime, and so true, and so profound.His life just isn’t that of a lunatics. And really loved ones, if he is not a lunatic, and he is not a liar, you really have very little left. You have to determine is this man really the Son of God? He is really what he says he is? I think some people will say, “Oh, well he’s a legend.” But for a legend to have developed you need time. Some people will say, “Ah yeah, what we have in the New Testament is not really Jesus as he existed. That’s Jesus touched up with a lot of exaggerations that his leaders added in order to lend authority to their position.” But loved ones, for a legend to develop you need time. Time for all the people to die who were alive during that man’s lifetime. Otherwise, if you begin to write exaggerations about him they just begin to contradict those exaggerations and say, “It’s not true. We were alive then.”Now of course, the time was not available. There is not a great gap of time between the time thatJesus lived and the first writings we have about him. Galatians was written in 48 AD. That’s 18 years after Jesus died. There must have been many eyewitnesses alive who knew Jesus who read these accounts of his life and could simply say they’re true or they’re untrue. Loved ones, really all you’re left with is that this man really was the Son of the Maker of the universe, that that’s really who he was. And you know, even his claims, and his talk, you can get away with claims or talk even though we examine them this way analytically. But what you can’t get away from is his acts. He really did have power over nature, and over sickness, and disease.He fed 5,000 people with a few loaves and fishes. He stilled a raging storm. He made water into wine. He raised the widow’s son. He raised the centurion’s daughter. He raised Lazarus from the dead. He obviously had the kind of powers over the world that you would expect the one who had made the world to have. So, his power of sickness, and over nature and disease is consistent with his claims that he is in fact, the one by whom all these things were made. It certainly dealt with the things around us as if he had made them. And then you know, if you examine his own character, there is just no life that has been lived like his.Ah, somebody puts it this way, a man called Muggeridge tries to summarize it and points out that there has been no human being who has ever been as perfect as this man Jesus. He just is above everybody. Mohammad’s life was torn with acts of vengeance, and fights, and strife. Old Confucius admitted that he had many faults. This man Jesus actually stood in front of a group of people and said, “Which of you convicts me of sin?” And nobody pointed sin out in his life, nobody said anything.The great saints, and sages, and mystics will all admit that the deeper we have gone the more conscious we are of our own sin, the more conscious we are of moral failure. Loved ones, he had no sense of moral failure. But not only that but the people that lived closest to him agreed with that. People like Peter and John said, “Listen, there is no sin in him.” Even the centurion who was his enemy who crucified him said, “This surely was the Son of God.” Even Pontus Pilate whose job was to find out something wrong in order to get rid of him said, “Behold I find no fault in this man.”So loved ones, his own life and his claims to sinlessness were backed up and reinforced by other people. And here is the way Muggeridge has described it. “His zeal never degenerated into passion nor his consistency into obstinacy, nor his benevolence into weakness, nor his tenderness into sentimentality. His unworldliness was free from indifference and unsocialability or undue familiarity. His self-denial from moroseness. His temperance was free from austerity. He combined childlike innocence with manly strength absorbing devotion to God with untiring interest in the welfare of man. Tender love to the sinner with uncompromising severity against sin commanding dignity with winning humility. Fearless courage with wise caution. Unyielding firmness with sweet gentleness.” It’s the kind of human character you would try to imagine if you were trying to create a perfect being, and that’s what this man Jesus, this obscure pheasant who was born in Bethlehem was like.Finally, maybe the most powerful thing is of course that many through controlled breathing while apparently being buried alive have claimed to come alive again after being dead. There have been many con men who have done that kind of thing. There are gurus and mystics in India today who can give an appearance of having been dead and having come to life. Their fame of course never gets far beyond the boundaries of their own village and if it ever comes to light in the world as a whole, their claims are very quickly exposed by just a little bit of analysis and a little bit ofconfirmation from eye witnesses.But loved ones, this man continually repeated that he would be crucified and that on the third day he would rise from the dead, and he did it. And there is no historic incident that is so reliably documented as this resurrection of this man Jesus. No historical incident has been so analyzed from a literary, and historical, and legal point of view as has his resurrection from the dead. No two facts have been so often questioned and so often subjected to detailed criticism, and discussion, and debate as have the twin facts of the empty tomb and the resurrection appearances. And after all that, over 1900 years the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is still the most solid historical incident that we have available to us from first 500 years, 1000 years of our era.Loved ones, it doesn’t matter what way you turn on that one, you cannot get any other answer except the resurrection is a far easier explanation of the whole event then all the explanations we can suggest or substitute for it. You try to go that swoon theory, it falls to the ground. It’s ridiculous to believe that he could have swooned and then could have come alive so tremendously and powerfully alive after bleeding in a dang cold tomb for several nights, and then come so alive that he convinced his followers and 500 people at one time that he was more alive than he had ever been before. And was able not only to come alive but to appear in different places at great distances from one another.It’s just foolishness when you start arguing the Romans stole the body. If they stole the body all they had to do was produce it to kill the Christian witness once and for all. If the disciples stole the body then you had to have them dying for something they knew to be a lie which is an ethical impossibility. People will die for what they think is true but they will not die for what they know to be a lie. They will not lead their children into crucifixion for what they know to be a lie. It doesn’t matter which way you go loved ones, you have to accept finally that the only explanation of the resurrection is the resurrection. You can’t argue they went to the wrong tomb, how did they all keep going to the wrong tomb day, after day, after day.You go to the resurrection appearances and you try to apply the psychological laws of hallucinations to them and it doesn’t work. A hallucination must be subjective. He was seen by about 500 brethren at one time and by groups of people in the upper room. Hallucinations have to be seen by people who want to see them. On the road to Emmaus you remember, the two men said, “And we thought that this was he who should have redeemed Israel.” They had given up hope of him coming alive again. They had no hope of him coming alive. They felt that bit doesn’t come true. Hallucinations have to appear over a long, long period of time. His appearances took place over 40 days and then they disappeared completely. You just cannot explain away the appearances on the ground of hallucinations. The psychological laws are not similar.Loved ones, it doesn’t matter how you go on this little pheasant who was born in Bethlehem 1981 years ago, you’re driven to the conclusion that this was really our God come here in a human body and that if we want to know what our God is like you just look at this man Jesus and he is God. And loved ones, that’s it really. The final proof of the existence of God is this little baby that was born 1981 years ago in Bethlehem and that’s really what it means that the word became flesh, and that’s how we come to believe in God. And the amazing thing is that your friends and relatives, and your colleagues at work, and my colleagues and friends will only come to believe that there is a God if the word again becomes flesh in your life. That’s it.Unless God sends the Spirit of his Son into your heart so that your life reflects the beauty of thislife, your friends and colleagues are hearing words, words, words, and talk they know is cheap and they listen to it day in and day out. Loved ones, unless the word becomes flesh in you all you give to your friends and your relatives is talk. And of course, what God wants this Christmas is for his Son to be born in you in a fuller way. There isn’t one of us loved ones, there isn’t one of us here who does not need Jesus more alive in us this coming year than he was last year. You cannot live on the degree to which he was alive in you last year this next year. God requires that you allow his Son to be fully formed in you in a fuller and more complete way. The only way it can happen is if the Holy Spirit conceives this Jesus in you as he conceived him in Mary. And if you say to me, “Well, what do we do?” Loved ones, there’s just one condition, you say what Mary said, “Be it unto me according to thy word.”You say to God this morning, “Lord God, I do want my relatives, I do want my friends, I do want my colleagues to have the same opportunity of seeing that there is a God like you as I have had. So Lord, look at my life, will you change it as you want and I’m willing for you to change it, and I’m willing to change it myself as you want so that Jesus can be born in me.” Now loved ones, look the problem is they see you. That’s it. They see you and me with all our inconsistencies, and all our bluff, and all our hypocrisy, and all our dishonesty, they see us and they hear us talking this big talk about God and how we’re Christians, and how we believe in God and love ones, they are no more fools than we are.They just say, “Haw-hum,” and they’re polite to you, you know they’re nice to you and you’re their friend and they don’t want to break up a friendship so they’re polite to you. but loved ones, they will not believe until they see your life like Jesus’ life. And the only way that will take place is if you say to him, “Be it unto me Lord, according to your word. Whatever you want to do with my life Lord, here it is do it. However you want to change it, you want me to stop being dishonest in business Lord, that’s it I’ve finished with that. Jesus come in and be your own honest self in my business life. You want me to stop being dishonest and lying at school in order to establish my reputation? Lord, I’m finished with it. You come in and be your own honest pure self so that they can see God. You want me to stop sidestepping on income tax? Alright Lord, I’ll stop it. You come in and be your own honest self.”Loved ones, the world is dying for a side of Jesus and each one of us here in this auditorium is able to give them that side. But it does mean that you have to be willing for Jesus to come in and be himself in you and let him change your life. I really just pray – I really – well, the words aren’t strong enough you know. I cannot tell you how strongly I pray and wish that you would let Jesus be formed in you. Really. And just let your life be run and ruled by God the way he wants so that Jesus could appear in you. That’s what the miserable old word needs, you know. Let’s pray.Dear Father, we know this in our hearts but Lord, somehow Satan or somebody has deceived us into thinking that well, we can never be a carrier of Jesus. So Lord, many of us have settled for less, settled for doing our best. Lord, we recognize that doing our best has given us an escape, we’ve been able just to do as much as we wanted, but Lord, we see that it’s just a hypocritical mess and our friends, and our colleagues at work and at school have failed to believe in God because they can’t believe in us because they know our Father, that if we really believed that Jesus was you we would let him live in our lives and take over our lives. We’d change our ways.Father, we would ask you as we come to the end of this year to show us what it means for us to say, “Be it unto me according to your word.” And Lord, we would ask that during this Christmas week you would show us what it means or us to have Jesus born in us. Lord, we want our friends, and ourcolleagues, and our relatives to be able to see him clearly, no longer shrouded with our miserable halfhearted lives but see him clear, and clean, and pure, and plain. So Lord Jesus, we want to deal with you this week and we want to ask you on Christmas morning to be born in us and Lord, we are willing on that day to let all the miserable coating of dishonesty, and lying, and hypocrisy, and selfishness fall away from us so that you can be seen as you really are in all your beauty. And a word may become flesh in our lives for your Glory. Amen.