Is Christianity just a myth or fairy story? “Apologetics” means dealing with the defense of the Christian faith. So is there a God and did Jesus really exist? Did Jesus rise from the dead? If so, there must be reasoned historical evidence for this that goes beyond pure belief alone. Indeed there is – and these half-hour talks present intelligent, reasoned arguments for Jesus’ existence and deity as well as why the Bible has more original manuscript authority than any other historical document.
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The Doctrine of Salvation 9 - THEOLOGY
The Doctrine of Salvation 9 Transcript of Class taught by Rev. Ernest O’Neill [Prayer] Dear Father, we trust you now for Gus [student in class]. Trust you Lord Jesus to lay your hand upon his dear spirit, and to whisper to him. “my peace I give unto you”. Lord Jesus, we trust you that the peace that comes from you and to a spirit will come in to us whole [Inaudible 0:00:25.5] system and will bring peace and quiet there. Lord Jesus, we pray that you will let that peace flow into his emotional life, and bring quietness so the [Inaudible 0:00:45.1] will subside. Lord Jesus, we know that your peace is deeper than any other peace in the whole universe. We thank you for as much of it as we have experienced in our own lives, and Lord, we pray for it now, in Gus’ life, and then we pray for more of it in our own lives. Lord Jesus, we know it is possible to have such peace of yours in our hearts that we can come into a room and can sense “dis-peace” in anybody’s spirit or in their body. And we can be used to bring peace there. Oh Lord, we ask you to bring us into that peace, and bring us into that depth of our own heart. We ask you so that the world will continually be reconciled to you, through us, for your glory. Amen. Dear ones, if you look at the assignment sheet today you’ll see that we would be beginning the subject of sanctification. What I would like to do for next day is to return the papers that I have still from some of you on other subjects and return the papers that you’ve done on justification so that we could maybe spend perhaps fifteen minutes next day just tying up justification. But I just remind you at this point as we begin the subject of sanctification of the three points that I have said are kind of the basis for the plan of salvation: how God offered the gift of the Holy Spirit to us, how we refused, and in refusing, among other things, we developed that selfish will that began to dominate us so that really, God could no longer offer the Holy Spirit to us with any safety — and then how he found the solution for that in putting us all into Jesus on the cross, and destroying us and our selfish will in Jesus. And so the situation is really like Al coming to me and saying, “Would you lend me your gun?”, and me — knowing that old Al had a temper that would just enable him to turn right around on anybody and shoot them dead. And so I realize, look, I can’t afford to give him my gun until he gets rid of that temper. And then I discover a pill that eliminates bad temper and I say to Al, “Okay I have this pill and if you take this pill, it will take away your bad temper”. As a result of that, I’ll be able to, I mean you just shouldn’t be doing it. I mean, isn’t he terrible? He is the most indignant. He probably stood on you. You probably didn’t stand. You don’t stand on him. You’re silly. I’m sorry. I bet you didn’t honestly…. Sure you’re a most indignant young man. When I saw your face you had that look. But, before you so rudely interrupted me, I was saying that it’s a bit like Al, my going to offer him. He comes to me asking me for the loan of my gun and me saying to myself, no he has such a bad temper. I can’t afford to lend him the gun. He’d just wreak havoc with it. And then my discovering that there’s a pill for a bad temper, and I say to Al, “Now listen. I have a pill for bad temper. If you come and take it, then I’ll give you my gun.” And it’s a bit like that with the Father. God knew that our selfish will would utterly prevent us doing anything but misusing the power of the Holy Spirit. And so, here is virtually God’s pill. God destroyed us and our selfish will in Jesus on the cross and now God is saying to us, “Look, I have done this. I have destroyed your selfish will in my son, Jesus. Now, if you will accept that by faith, I am willing to give you my Holy Spirit.” And that’s really the kind of situation. And so usually we talk about justification as the state or relationship that takes place when we accept that God has destroyed us and our selfish will in Jesus. And we say, “I believe that Lord, now I receive the Holy Spirit.” And this we believe is justification and the receiving of the Holy Spirit produces the new birth or regeneration. Now loved ones, here’s the point. God really did destroy our selfish wills in Jesus, and the working out of that in us personally, is sanctification. I’m willing to go over that again slowly if you want, but that’s the situation. You see that justification is us accepting that God has destroyed us in our selfish will in Jesus, and therefore, is willing to give us the Holy Spirit. And so, we receive the Holy Spirit. Then we experience the new birth. But then after receiving the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit begins to show us that God wasn’t just pretending when he said he destroyed your selfish will in Jesus on the cross. He really DID and he is able to make that real in your life. And as you begin to enter into that, you experience sanctification. So justification is God treating you as just giving you the Holy Spirit, as if you had no bad temper, as if you were not self centered, as if you were perfectly trustworthy, as if you could handle the power of the Holy Spirit, only wisdom and good sense, that’s treating you as just. But sanctification is God making you just, or making you righteous, or making you holy, “sanctus” is the word holy, but he does it loved ones, by applying what he has done in Jesus on the cross to your life. And so sanctification is us personally experiencing increasingly the destruction of that selfish will that took place on Calvary. Do you see the connection? It’s as if I would say to Al, “Now I can only give you the gun if you are willing to take this pill to deal with your bad temper.” And he takes the pill and I then say, “Okay, I’m willing to give you the gun.” And I give him the gun, then he takes the pill and the pill begins to destroy his bad temper. That’s sanctification, you see. Sanctification is the actual putting into operation of what God did for us in Jesus, but he had to do that for us in Jesus in order to be able to give us the Holy Spirit. Now once the Holy Spirit comes in and begins to work in us, he works to make real in us what God did in Jesus for us. So sanctification is in a sense the real fulfillment of what God did in Jesus on the cross, and of course, that’s why I think it’s such a weak gospel to preach that God has achieved his purpose in Jesus’ death on Calvary the moment you know your sins are forgiven. I think that’s only a part of what God wished to achieve in Calvary. What God really wished to achieve on Calvary was the destruction of that miserable, selfish will, so that you could not only receive the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit could work freely through you. And so, until you begin to enter in to the experience of that in your life — really, what many of us are is, what you remember the little diagram that Bill Bright did on the back of the campus crusade booklets — many of us are in that position: with a little chair, you remember, and I forget how he does himself but, it’s SELF on the throne, and the cross I think he designates as Jesus’ spirit. Jesus’ spirit is here, at the side of lives so we’ve received the spirit but SELF is on the throne of our lives. And so the selfish will is still in control. The Holy Spirit is in there but is unable to be used to spread Jesus’ life throughout the world. Then you remember, Bill Bright does this other little diagram where in sanctification of course, the Spirit of Jesus takes its place on the thrown of our lives and the self takes its place on the periphery of our lives and really experiences that crucifixion. Loved ones, sanctification broadly speaking then is the actual making real in our lives of what God did for us on the cross. Justification is the being out in a relationship as if we are just, because we have believed that God has destroyed us in Jesus, and we have received his Holy Spirit. Sanctification is the result of all that in our lives. Now would anyone like to press me on that because I’m game to try to make it clear. [Inaudible 0:03:32.6] Seems to me the best is better to stick with the scriptural words, Alan. That’s why I keep using those words in Romans 6:6, “We know that our old self was crucified with him”, and it doesn’t say self in the sense of our metaphysical self, or our personality or all that kind of thing, but it says, “We know that our old self was crucified with him”, and I think the Greek word is our old man, the person we used to be, the old self-dominated person that we used to be that was crucified with Christ. Now it seems to me it’s better to say our “selfish will” in the sense of our self-dominated personality was crucified with Christ. I think sanctification is in two steps. I think the first step is the realization that our selfish will was crucified with Christ, and a willingness to let that selfish will go. In other words, I think the first step is, is realization of the principle of crucifixion with Christ. That realization I think can only come truly by revelation if you are really willing for that to take place in your own real life. So a realization of the principle of crucifixion, I think, that’s a first step. That is what for me would have been a crisis experience. And then, seems to me, there’s the second progressive step. I’m sorry loved ones I’ll just say for me that it was a crisis experience. I don’t know that it’s crisis for everyone, but then there’s the second step, the progressive experience of sanctification which is the extension of that death and of course, of the consequent life, a sorry extension of death and of life through the rest of our personalities, which is the second fulfillment, you see. It’s really the self-dominated personality. But it seems to me that you have to enter into the principle first, and that’s a matter of the will. Are you willing to enter in that principle? That second step is the extension of that death and of life throughout our personalities, and that involves our minds and our emotions particularly, but as well our bodies, because some of us have sleepy, weary bodies that need to experience death and the life of Jesus. Some of us have minds that are continually going in all directions. We cannot get them to settle. We’re filled with wondering thoughts and we need to die to our right to have wondering thoughts and to allow the life of Jesus’ mind to go through us. Some of us are very emotional people, and therefore, to that extent at times very incapable of doing what Jesus wants us to do. We need to allow our real death to work through our own natural emotions and allow the emotions of Jesus to take over. Now I think that’s what we talk about as the progressive part of sanctification. This is what we would talk of if it helped you. Those of you know the seminars on Sunday mornings, we would talk about the baptism of the Holy Spirit in connection with the crisis experience. We would talk about walking in the Spirit in connection with the progressive experience. [Inaudible 0:07:51.8] … okay, that’s right, I agree. I’ll just repeat that into the microphone then. Al is saying that, shouldn’t it be a spontaneous experience? He’s referring to me who points out that you shouldn’t just will against some sin like anger because you just willing against the law of sin that is working in you, and you cannot overcome the law of sin. The only thing that will overcome the law of sin is the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. And so why is it a struggle if there should be a spontaneous experience? I think many people read me — and I think maybe they aren’t at that position in their own lives or they don’t read him listening for, or looking for their revelation of the Holy Spirit, and so they get into this thing, where it should be a spontaneous thing. So I’m just going to let Jesus’ life come through me, and they don’t really know how to do it, or want to do it or what to do. And I think that is the problem, Al, and the reason for the struggle is we do not know what in us is keeping Jesus’ life from flowing through us freely. In other words, I think [Watchman] Nee uses the example of the law of gravity: a handkerchief will always fall to the ground — that’s a law of gravity. Unless you bring another law of motion or a force into effect, and you lift it up with your hand — and I think the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus is not able to work in us because we are not fully aware in what way we are still cooperating with the law of sin and death. That’s why I think the first thing with a problem like, say anger, or selfishness — the first job we have is seeking the Holy Spirit’s revelation, really counseling with them over as long as we need to — a day, a month, a year, but preferably shorter than that — but counseling with them and saying, “Holy Spirit, why do I get angry?” Or, “Why do I criticize other people?” And we have to find out where we are still living in sin without really knowing it, where we have an attitude of sin in regard to criticism without really knowing it. And gradually, if we seek the Holy Spirit, he will show us that perhaps we criticize because we are still very, very uncertain of our own status in this particular group that we belong to. We are still very uncertain of our status. We really still don’t feel if we’ve really been accepted by them or if some of them are still rejecting us. We use criticism to try to persuade ourselves that they ought to certainly accept us because we look at the things we can see are wrong in some of them that they can’t see. And so, I’m not saying that that will apply to all of us here but, the Holy Spirit will show us in some way how we are making it impossible for the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus to free us from this criticism — because the criticism in its turn depends on the mountain of an attitude of sin that is preventing God doing anything with that. And then, the Holy Spirit brings us around to the place, “Would you be prepared to be rejected by this group? Would you be prepared to face the fact that maybe you are the poorest person in this group? That maybe you are the most incompetent person? That maybe you are the person that are worth least respect in this group? Would you be prepared to join Jesus in the cross and be despised by this group as he was?” And then it seems to me as you enter into that kind of revelation and as you submit your will in the right way, whatever the particular way is that the Holy Spirit will show you, then that does take place. The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus rises. I found that in my own life the anger was gone, the selfishness was gone. Well, I think I’ve shared often the things that God dealt with me in my life — but one of the rights that I felt I had was to avoid awkward situations, or at least to put them off to a more convenient time. Well I think I mentioned this to some of you before, but one of the most exhausting, and trying, and wearisome tasks I think that a pastor faces is marital difficulties that have gone the length of divorce and are just on the verge of divorce. It is just an agonizing business trying to drag a marriage back from the edge of divorce. Even marital difficulties well before divorce at least both partners are still on speaking terms and they have not really let the hostility overcome the peace completely, but when it comes to divorce, you’re involved with dragging people back from the edge of a cliff, and then trying to build a healthy marriage. After I entered into that — I mean I know it sounds corny to say but I know the morning I entered into that. The Holy Spirit gave me just a quiet sense that he had filled me, and then the Holy Spirit said to me, “Phone that lady”. Now this was a lady that was just on the edge of divorce, and normally, whenever the thought came to me, “You should go and call that lady”, I would normally say, “Well that’s stupid Holy Spirit. I mean I don’t just have to lift the phone receiver just because you tell me to lift the phone receiver. I’m not dumb, you know. I can think about the thing for awhile.” And I would think about it for awhile and then I would say, “Well anyway, that was probably just a silly thought to lift the receiver that moment and I’ll wait till I see her at church. In fact, maybe she’ll phone me just at the right moment.” and I will just keep putting the thing off. And the amazing thing was the Holy Spirit said, “Phone that lady. Just phone her immediately and walk right into the mess.” And for me there were other things: the anger, and the selfishness, and the envy, and the selfish ambition — you know a lot that stuff. It was just gone. But that was for me. It involved many things, but it was a spontaneous freeing from those things that I had never experienced before. So I can testify to the fact that it is a spontaneous freeing. But the mistake I think many of us make is we think that, “This law of this spirit of life in Christ Jesus will lift the law of sin and death away from me, whether I am willing to be freed from the law of sin and death or not.” That’s not true. You have to be willing to be freed from the law of sin and death, and to be freed from the law of sin you have to know where that law of sin is operating in you. It might help, Don, or some of the others who haven’t read that chapter: if Kathy says something and that’s critical of me, and I react and just strike out with sarcasm against her, then that’s just one sin. But if that continually happens, then that’s a law of sin That’s taking scientific definition of a law as a series of events that keep happening the same way all the time. Well then, that’s a law of sin that’s working within me. And what can free you from that law? You must admit it’s almost as if some internal mechanism in you is set up to react that way. That’s almost what you find. You keep reacting that way. You can’t control it. You make desperate attempts with your will to control it, but it keeps on operating. Now, I think what the Holy Spirit has to do is show us the inner mechanism there, and ask us, “Are you willing to be freed from that inner mechanism?” Many of us say, “Oh yes we are, but we don’t know what it is.” So if you had said to me, “Are you willing to be freed from bad temper?” I would have said, “Yea, yea, yea.” And if you would have pressed me and said, “Are you willing to be freed from the inner mechanism?” I’d say, “Yea, yea.” But I didn’t know anything about what that inner mechanism was until the Holy Spirit showed me what the inner mechanism was. It was simply this, which I’ve shared with you before, that I use bad temper as a last resort to prevent a thing getting out of my control. If a situation seemed to be getting out of my control I would let the old temper rip. I knew that would kind of make other people at least frightened and then maybe the thing would come back under my control. And so the little clicking trigger or the first cog in that inner mechanism was that I wanted to have control of every situation and I did not want any situation to be outside my control. I was a school teacher at that time and that seemed particularly reasonable to me: that no situation should be outside my control. What I didn’t see was that there was another possibility that you could trust Jesus to control the situation, but I felt no. I had to have control of it myself. And so for me, that was part of what I had to be willing. So that’s what I would say to get that. It isn’t just a matter of easy believism. It isn’t just a matter of I believe that Jesus life will spontaneously come through me and overcome my bad temper. It is rather, “Am I willing to be freed from this law of sin?” [Inaudible 0:08:34.9], that’s good. I don’t claim to know [Watchman Nee] through and through, but I know “The Normal Christian Life” quite well, and I know “The Spiritual Man” which is the only book he wrote thoroughly. I think I could fend to know it thoroughly and I think, Al. that “The Normal Christian Life” is still a series of talks that he gave on different occasions and different situations that people who have taken short hand and notes, then put together in the book of “The Normal Christian Life”. Though it’s good I don’t think for instance that it’s an absolutely full-proof presentation that he gives in that chapter that you’re talking about. I think at times he does leave it open for some uncertainty. For instance, I have no doubt that he believes that revelation — that’s what I’m talking about — revelation where I’m saying the Holy Spirit has to show you. But I really do believe that he means by revelation, not just a quick spontaneous flash, but something that comes as a result of our hungering and thirsting to know, “Lord, show me why I keep losing my temper.” So I do think that that’s right when he says that. I agree with you, I’m not wild about his example of, have you ever found yourself in a [Inaudible 0:01:09.5]. But I think that he’s trying to say the same things and all that. I think he just mixes the thing up a little in that one talk that he obviously gave to some group of people where maybe he had dealt with some of the other issues immediately before, and they didn’t take short hand notes of it. But I would think that this in fact, I would one of my great confirmations would have been to find that Nee seems to have come into some experiences as I had come into. It seemed to make sense the things he said. [Inaudible 0:01:49.0]? Yes, it seems to me Kathy while we are seeking to come free of the whole thing, we have to walk in the truth of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And the truth that Jesus taught when he said to Peter, “You will forgive until seventy times seven”, implying that his father would forgive us until seven million times seven. So we have to walk in the truth of confession and repentance of sin — repeatedly. Even if we’re still walking in bad temper when we die, we still have to walk in the truth of confession and repentance. But I think what we’re seeing here is that there is a deeper deliverance that will enable you to walk free from that bad temper and enable you to walk at least free from this never ending confessing and repenting of the same sin. But until we enter into that deliverance, I think you have to walk in the assurance that God will forgive you as often as you repent. [Inaudible 0:03:11.6] Ah, that’s right. And that I was going to say another thing to Al in connection with the phrase that he used because Charles Finney is very good — maybe you’d remember that what you just said. But he’s very good where he says, “Many people say, ‘Oh but I want to be free of this bad temper. I want to be free.’ And you say to them, ‘Are you willing to be free?’ And they say, ‘Yea, I’m really willing to be free. I’m really willing.’” And Finney points out, there are two ways in which you can mean that. You can mean I’m willing in the sense that I won’t. I desire to be — and everybody desires to be free from their bad temper. But do you want it in the sense that you’re willing to face the consequences of being freed from it? So many people say, “I want it,” but some of them mean I desire it very much, but I am not willing to face the consequences. But the only kind of wanting that will enable God to give you the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is, “I am willing to face the consequences of that” — which may mean, “I’m willing to be despised in this group. I’m willing to be looked down upon. I’m willing for things to be outside my control.” It’s that kind of thing. But I’m sorry, Kathy, you said, could you just mention the phrase again and bring it back to my mind? [Inaudible 0:04:46.1]. That’s right, where some say, “Yes”, because some people say that the Holy Spirit will point out or somebody else will point out their anger and they’ll say, “Oh yea, well I’ll wait for revelation about that.” I mean it sounds wild but even if with the kind of stuff that I preach on Sunday nights, and Sunday mornings, a dear brother came up to me — and I really think it’s almost Satan to seize a person at that moment because he said to me something about a personal sin he had. And I said, “Well, boy. You’d better get to the cross from the Holy Spirit just why you’re doing that. And he said, “Well, I mean I can’t do that. I have to wait for revelation. Can you give me revelation?” Meanwhile, I continue to lose my temper until God gives — well it seems to me — God only gives the revelation to those who hunger and thirst after righteous with all their hearts. He’ll only give it to people who cannot do without it. And [Inaudible 0:05:49.4] is so good. You know he says God is a hidden God and will reveal himself only to those who seek him with all their hearts. It seems to me revelation only comes when you see God. I remember yearning until I thought I’d go insane, yearning to get revelation about why I was so proud and why I was so proud I tell you. And I knew that technically it was self. I knew it was self that made me so proud. But I could not see the hatefulness of that self, standing up on its own two little legs and being proud. And it is like a miracle when I look back. I do know the change that comes about in your attitude, and now, even as I say that, I’m not saying that Satan isn’t able to drag you back into it. But it is an incredible change that comes into your attitude when the Holy Spirit shows you the exceeding sinfulness of being proud, or the exceeding sinfulness of thinking your anything. But it seems that that’s what’s needed, Mary. [Inaudible 0:07:01.5] It seems to me that you can’t Mary, because one of the things that happens is when self is on the throne back there when you’re a carnal Christian is you cannot get clear light on things because self is on the throne. The Holy Spirit is just periphery of your life you’re not able to get clear light on things. You get light from the Holy Spirit, “Look, here’s a sin in your life but you’re not able to do anything about it. You strive against it and fight against it and maybe overcome it for awhile but you fall back into it.” So you might get light about individual sins but you’re not able to get light about the root of sin, about the heart of sin, and I think you only get that as you’re sticking to come into this crisis experience where you’re delivered from self, and where the Holy Spirit goes on the cross. And then after that moment, the Holy Spirit is able to give you light in this and about other things. But for instance, these areas here refer to personality traits that are inexpedient. I remember the Holy Spirit showing me after I entered into some experience of crucifixion, “You had a great deal of trust in your intellect in the old days, and a great deal of pride in your intellect. Do you know that at times when people ask you questions you give them an unnecessary amount of intellectual information? If the Holy Spirit said that before I probably have said to him, “Oh well, I have a lot of other messes in my life that are far worse than that. I’ll get to that eventually.” Or I might not have even seen the point he was making, so I would think that a person has not even the sensitivity to see these personality traits unless they come into this experience of the Holy Spirit taking his throne place in your life. Seems to me he’s the one gives you the light. [Inaudible 0:09:37.3] No, it seems to me back here in the new birth, Mary, I don’t know that there’s any reason why he can’t. Maybe, I suspect that what happens to most of us is, he does really jump into that throne room position, But about two or three weeks after we have been walking with Jesus, we get cocky and get a little uppity, or we look at other people and we see the way they’re being able to do what they want and follow Jesus at the same time. And I think that’s when we slide him off into the peripheral position, and slide self back on the throne. So it might well be that for the first two or three weeks. The Baptist Church says, “At the most the first two years”, but at least for a while the Holy Spirit might be on the throne. For instance, I’ll point out to you what most of experience when we first receive Jesus into our lives: we experience a readiness to do anything for it. Getting up for prayer was no problem, witnessing – we’d do anything for him. But gradually we tried to accommodate him to our pattern of life, and we tried to get back to normal, and we kind of slit him off. But really Mary, now I don’t see why a person couldn’t simply walk on after the new birth and walk on into this. But it seems that few of us seem to do it. I remember John Wesley saying there’s no reason why that can’t happen, but in the 572 people he interviewed carefully in the English revival, he didn’t find one. He found one girl who had entered in 12 hours after or something like that. But, so, [Inaudible 0:01:31.8] Yes, that’s right. It seems to me very important to see that there is nothing that God will not forgive us except blasphemy. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the technical meaning of blasphemy — is speaking against the Holy Spirit by saying, “You are not the Holy Spirit”, in other words, refusing to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit convicting us and saying, “You are not the Holy Spirit.” In other words, giving up any distinction between right and wrong, and that’s the only unforgivable sin. Frankly, I think whether it is right when he says, “If anybody is worried about whether they have committed the unforgivable sin or not, then they can be sure they haven’t committed the unforgivable sin because if they had, they wouldn’t even worry about the possibility. They would be so sure that they were right. God will forgive until seventy times seven, and I think that means until seven million times seven. But what he does want us to see is that there’s an alternative to struggling, struggling hopelessly against individual sins. That’s like trying to break up an ice berg just by breaking up the stuff on the surface of the water when there are nine tenths of it underneath. It’s the nine tenths of the stuff that has to be dealt with which is the self. Now of course, what God wants among us is such a free fellowship of people who love him and who want to be like him. Kathy can be in a position where she’s still fighting the old temper. Marianne can be in a position where she has come into deliverance from the old self. Don can be in the position where he’s been delivered from the old self and the Holy Spirit is beginning to deal with him about just personality traits that are inexpedient. Joyce can be just born of God. And yet we can all be walking along together in joy and fellowship, and obeying God and not pointing at one person saying, “You’re not a Christian because God isn’t dealing with you about this.” — but each one dealing with the Holy Spirit at their particular level and yet looking upon each other as equals before God because we are if we’re walking in the light. If Joyce has just become a Christian last week, and is walking in all the light that she’s had, and has never even thought about bad temper and anger yet and maybe there in her life — but if she’s walking in all the light that she has, she is in as a beautiful position as Brian, who has maybe been filled with the Holy Spirit and is walking in the upper reaches of intercessory prayer and all the rest of it. It seems to me that the important thing is, are you walking up to the level of liability God has given you? [Inaudible 0:04:42.2] Well push him because I tried to find some word that would indicate what the bible means when it talks about the soul, and the distinction between soul and spirit, and what the bible talks about when it deals with “breaking of the outer man”. It seemed to me if you talked about, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, after being crucified with Christ, you need to have your outer man broken.
The Doctrine of Salvation 10 - THEOLOGY
The Doctrine of Salvation 10(cid:9) Transcript of Class by Rev. Ernest O’Neill Shall we pray, dear ones? Dear Father, we thank you for the beautiful day, and we thank you for light, and sun, and heat. Thank you Father, that you’ve provided all the conditions for physical growth around us, and so we can be assured that you have provided all the conditions for spiritual growth. Therefore Father, we would thank you for things like the trials in our lives, and the burdens, and the difficulties. And we would thank you for the times you take us by green pastures and still waters, the times that are happy and joyful. And Father, we thank you that you have planted around us everything we need to conform us to the image of Jesus our Savior. So we thank you Lord, that we have everything here for our physical and spiritual growth and all you ask us to do is avail ourselves of all of them — so, we would do that. We thank you for this opportunity to breathe in your Spirit this afternoon. Thank you Holy Spirit, that we can breathe you in by faith this afternoon. We can receive you as life that we cannot see or cannot touch, or smell, and yet believe that you’re coming into us and fillings us even more as we’re talking. And Holy Spirit, that you are bringing to us the life of Jesus miraculously. And oh, we thank you for that. Thank you that as we walk in faith, and breathe you in, in prayer so we begin to grow stronger ourselves. And then we thank you for that good meat that we can chew on that we find in your word, and we thank you for good food our Father. We thank you that as we breathe in your Spirit, and as we eat the food in your word, we ourselves grow up into the fullness of the stature of Jesus. So we trust you our Father, for a good half hour together this afternoon. Thank you for all the times we’ve had together. Thank you Lord, for the way you’ve made things more vivid in our own understandings. We trust you now by your Holy Spirit, to make you more vivid in our lives to others. We ask this for your sake. Amen. Dear ones, if you look at the assignment sheet, you’ll see that we’re on the subject of the perseverance of the saints. And because it is, it obviously will provide some interesting discussion. I think that there might be advantages in staying with our own textbook here that we all have — but it’s the perseverance of the saints. I can, if you like, read Berhkof’s statement of it in his larger book – since it does point out that it’s the very thing that I think Don or we brought up one time you know, eternal security. And that’s really what you’re talking about. Now I’ll try to read it slowly in Berkhof’s larger book, but it is on page 145 in the shorter text book. Then we can get down to going back and forward on it in discussion. He says, “The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is to the effect that they whom God has generated and effectually called to a state of grace, can neither totally nor finally fall away from that state, but shall certainly persevere there into the end, and be eternally saved.” So I think maybe you ought to get clear in your mind that the perseverance of the saints as stated by a Calvinist like Berkhof means that those who have been regenerated truly will continue in that regenerated life until they meet Jesus face-to-face. Even if they appear to fall into sin, they may fall into sin even temporarily, but they will never be lost, they will always come back, you see, to Jesus. And those of course, who have fallen away would be regarded as not truly regenerated people. I think it’s very important as I begin this, since I am the one that’s teaching the class and therefore has a certain initiative in the thing, I think it’s very important for us to see that obviously, this is a doctrine where there are great truths on either side. It seems to me to behoove us this afternoon not to say, “Oh, now Don, you’re wrong for believing eternal security,” or, “You’re wrong, Kathy, for believing and I’m right for believing,” or vice versa — but really, to find out what truths underneath those crude doctrines that we have, what truths God is trying to get over to us. But, I just want to give completely the statement so that we understand it from his viewpoint. I won’t read what he says about Augustine because I don’t think it’s too helpful. It just confuses a little. But let me go on to, “The church of Rome with its semi pelagianism,” and you remember that was the idea that Pelagius taught that you could save yourself by your own boot straps, but in reality what was also emphasized by the people who were called pelagians or semi pelagians was the right of a man to use his free will to reject God. And that would be the big difference, it seems to me, between those who emphasize a Calvinist approach and those who would emphasize and Arminian approach. One would emphasize strongly the sovereignty of God. The other would emphasize strongly the free will of man. Now note loved ones, I point it out – I say it that way, I’m not saying the Calvinist is wrong for emphasizing the sovereignty of God. I just say that down through theology that has been the distinction. The Calvinist has emphasized the sovereignty of God. The Arminians has emphasized the free will of man. Now then, you have got Calvinists that are extreme and make the sovereignty of God the only thing that matters. Similarly, you get Arminians that emphasize that free will is the only thing that matters. What we have to find is the midway stage. “But the Church of Rome with its semi pelagianism, including the doctrine of free will denied the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, and made their perseverance depending on the uncertain obedience of man.” Now you can see that “uncertain” is an emotive word, but it’s the word that he uses, “Depending on the uncertain obedience of man. The reformers restored this doctrine to its rightful place. The Lutheran Church however, makes it uncertain again by making it contingent on man’s continued activity of faith, and by assuming that true believers can fall completely from grace. It is only in the Calvinistic churches that the doctrine is maintained in a form in which it affords absolute assurance.” So I’ll just point out some of the important things that he is saying there. Berkhof is always afraid of any that will over stress man’s free will, or will over emphasize the fact that God’s activity is conditional upon man’s obedience. He will often emphasize that man has to cooperate in what God has done, but that’s about as far as he will go in this business of allowing that man’s activity can affect what God wishes to do. That’s of course what he’s guarding against. What he’s guarding is the sovereignty of God. He’s saying, “If one little man can look up to God and say, ‘I am not going to do that, even if you want me to.’” Then Berkhof will always say, “That is beginning to diminish the sovereignty of God”. Whereas I suppose I’m a kind of Wesleyan Arminian, but whatever I am, from my angle I would tend to say yes, a puny little man can prevent God having his will in the world. Now that’s something of the discussion. I’ll just quote Berkhof, even though you know that he’s a wee bit unfair I think to the people on the opposite side at times, as I’m sure I would be to him. “The Arminians rejected this view and made the perseverance of believers dependent on their will to believe and on their good works.” Now of course, I would fall out with him over good works, but certainly I’d agree they would make the perseverance of believer’s dependent on their will to believe. Arminius himself avoided that extreme but his followers did not hesitate to maintain their synergistic position with all his consequences. Synergistic is two things working together, man’s free will and God’s will. So that’s the kind of statement, loved ones, and I think that kind of states it. Now if you’d like, go to page 145 you could see it in his actual wording there — it’s about maybe at the bottom of that space where “perseverance of saints” is. It’s about seven lines down from the beginning of the paragraph. “Perseverance may be defined,” and then you see the italics, “As that continuous operation of the Holy Spirit and the believer by which the work of divine grace that has begun in the heart is continued and brought to completion.” So it’s the operation of the Holy Spirit, you see. We often look as perseverance of the saints, “Oh well, don’t you mean the saints are just going to persevere and they have to persevere otherwise they won’t be saved?” No, as defined by a Calvinist, perseverance of the saints means the perseverance of the Holy Spirit in the person in whom he’s brought about regeneration. “This doctrine is clearly taught in scripture.” Then he gives the references. “And it is only when we believe in this perseverance of God that we can, in this life, attain to the assurance of salvation,” gives the references. “Outside of reformed circles, this doctrine finds no favor. It is said to be contradicted by scripture which warns against apostasy,” — those references. “Exhorts believers to continue in the way of salvation,” — those references. Why warn them if they’re not going to fall away anyway? “And even records cases of apostasy,” and then those references. Now his explanation, “Such warnings and exhortations would seem to assume the possibility of falling way and such cases would seem to prove it completely. But as a matter of fact,” — and this is I think the position that maybe those of us would hold to eternal security would have to stand on in regard to these verses — “But as a matter of fact, the warnings and exhortations prove only that God works mediately and wants man to cooperate in the work of perseverance.” Now to help you a little so that you won’t just say, “Oh he’s just using words there, ‘by working mediately’ he means that the Holy Spirit is only able to persevere in the saints as long as the preachers give the warnings that are given in scripture. So you see, he kind of says, much as you remember he would say -– we would say to him, “Well listen, if God has set apart certain people to be saved, and certain people to be lost, why bother preaching? Aren’t they going to come anyway?” Well he would say, “Yes, but God has determined that this will come about anyway, but it will come about through the preachers preaching.” So he would say, strictly speaking, there’s no need for the preachers to preach. The people would come anyway but preaching is part of God’s predestined plan as well. Now this is what he’d say in regard to the warnings where I would come to Don and say, “Now why these warnings in scripture about falling away, if there’s no chance to fall away?” Well, I don’t know how Don would answer but here’s Berkhof answering one particular way. He would say, “Well they wouldn’t fall away anyway, but God has ordained that people will give these warnings. This is part of God’s plan, and he works mediately. He works through these warnings to ensure that the Christian will never fall away.” So it’s important for us to see it. I feel especially I need to sell the thing because obviously some of us do accept eternal security here and I find myself not doing it, so I want to be fair and sell the thing as strongly as I can. I think that that’s what he would say. The warnings are there because it’s through those warnings that God ensures that nobody does fall away. Whereas, I will come around from my angle and I’d say, “Oh no, now well, wait a minute. Why warn if there’s no chance of falling away?” Well he will say, “Oh well there is no chance of falling away — but there’s no chance of falling away because of these warnings.” I think that’s what he’d say. So God works mediately and wants man to cooperate in the work of perseverance. There is no proof that the Apostates mentioned were ill believers. Now loved ones, I think I should kind of stop talking and open it out a little, and maybe what we need to do is look at some of the verses. I can I think, quote them pretty easily because in his full text he gives the words. Let me quote some to you and then we can look them up individually if we need to. Here are some of the verses that would argue for eternal security or the perseverance of the saints. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never parish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” [John 10:27-28] Now that’s one of the verses. Now I can come back on it. I don’t know whether this is an answer to that verse. I frankly, think we’re faced with something that’s almost as deep as predestination. There’s some truth in it and there’s something that’s difficult. But I think Jesus wants to get something through to us personally in this. I of course, would tend to answer, “That’s right. No one will snatch them out of God’s hand. Satan cannot as long as they’re willing to stay in God’s hand. But, I mean anybody can come back at me and say, “Oh my brother, your reading in there. It doesn’t say, ‘As long as they’re willing to stay in my hand.’” But, alright. Let me go through some of the other verses because some of them I think are strong. Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and the call of God are not repented of.” And so one who believes in the perseverance of the saints would say, “Now there, if God gives the gift of eternal life to someone, God cannot repent of that. He cannot change his mind about that. He cannot withdrawal that.” Now I don’t think it’s fair of me to answer each one because that’s stacking the deck, so I’m not going to. I just want to quote these verses and then throw it open to you. And here’s Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing that he who began a good work in you will perfect it onto the day of Jesus Christ.” I should put the references down so that you can get them, though I think he has them, loved ones. If you look at 145 and you see under the italics, “This doctrine is clearly taught in scripture.” Now the first reference it gives is John 10:28 there and that’s, “No one shall snatch them out of my hand.” Romans 11:29, “The gifts and the calling of God are not repented of.” Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” So there is, you see, being confident that if he’s begun it he’ll perfect it. 2 Thessalonians 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful who shall establish you and guard you from evil one.” You see, God will guard you, will keep you from the evil one. 2 Timothy 1:12, “For I know him, whom I have believed and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed onto him against that day.” Okay loved ones, now I think I should stop there. Would anyone like to address the issue, or question? If you want to question me a little to tie the thing down, I’ll gladly try to make it precise. [Question inaudible 18:26] That’s good. I know that he does. I’ve heard him. I’ve read him before on, “If you’re born, how can you cease to be born?” Of course, I have no problem with it because I see death all around me, and I say you can die. I say that it’s a tricky semantic issue to take the word “born” and try to prove, from our knowledge of being born, that you must therefore continue, because it seems life is full of birth and death. I’m not clear on the millennial kingdom and I think I just am not competent to speak on that. I’m just always very hesitant about the business of dividing Christians into two groups — which that seems to be approaching a little: that some will be saved now, some will be saved by the skin of their teeth, and some won’t be. But that could be, yes. [Question inaudible 20:14] The interesting thing is that Berkhof — and I’m sure old Don there will say, “Well yes,” but I believe that too. I believe it’s a daily walk and I believe that I daily have to persevere.” I think Gus, I would say that there would be the sense in me that I could fall away. I know it isn’t fear of falling away that keeps me with Jesus. I know that I stay with Jesus because I love him. But I do notice that the other – of course, this isn’t a good way to tackle doctrine from the pragmatic point of view — but from a pragmatic point of view, it’s very easy for the other doctrine to lead to compliancy. But, then – Don or Berkhof can answer that and say, “Yeah, but that isn’t the truth of a doctrine.” But Don, I’m sorry I do that with my wife. I try to tell what she would say. You should … [Question Inaudible 21:56] Well you know, I was looking forward to this because in several other doctrines, where we were apparently supposed to be very opposite to one another, because we came from different backgrounds, Jesus has shown me very healthy approaches in through the middle. And it is interesting, isn’t it, to see that those of us who are in Jesus will probably almost all testify the same way, that we’re amazed at the patience of God with us, and how with this Holy Spirit, he has continually drawn us back to himself? And so, most of us I think, would testify from my experience, we must be eternally secure because I can’t understand how otherwise I’d be in God’s arms still. But isn’t it true that maybe there are verses of scripture that we’re supposed to, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to accept comfort from in that way when we’re in that position of humble, trusting, fearer of sinning, and love of God situation? But I wonder, are there other verses that need to be urged upon other people who are maybe in a more careless state? I’m wondering is this – we church people seem expert at taking a truth of scripture and getting a doctrine out of it by which we can kind of prove that we’re right. And I wonder are we missing the whole point of God giving us verses on one side that seem to say we’re eternally secure, on the other – I think you know of John 15, you know those branches that do not bear fruit will be gathered and casted into the fire. And in the old, if you’re a believer in the perseverance of saints you come forth with something of what Nee is coming forth with the millennial argument. Well it means something about rewards — or, you come with Paul, (1 Corinthians 9:27) “… but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” So we each come with our key verses. Isn’t it amazing how Satan so often enables us, in trying to prove our own view point, sometimes to dilute scripture for the other person anyway? So Don comes with his [verse], “No one shall snatch them from out of my hand”, and I — because I’m trying to back my little falling from grace thing — take a verse that may be a great blessing to him and I say, “Oh yeah, yeah. But wait a minute. It doesn’t mean that.” And wouldn’t it be very interesting now if Satan is looking down upon us, and kind of laughing his head off, as we each produce our proof texts, and we dilute the proof text for each of us. Wouldn’t it be interesting if here, instead of sharing rich food with each other, we all go out with what we thought, “I came in with what I thought was a great sandwich, but by the time Don is finished with it, it’s just two slices of bread.” And he comes in with what looks like just a half chicken, and by the time I’m finished with it, it’s just a bundle of bones — and Satan laughs his head off as we all go out having been stripped of verses that were precious to us. And that’s why I’m searching, especially when God has called us into a nondenominational situation, to try to find out, “Is this scripture that should be absolutely applied in all cases, or are these not verses that have the right truth for the right person at the right time?” In other words, the fellow that comes up to me at the end of a service and said to me, “Oh now, you’re going very near to teaching that we can be lost.” Well naturally I didn’t come back to him and say, “Well that’s exactly what I believe,” because I don’t get anywhere with the fellow if I do that and I’m no blessing at all to him. So I said, “Well you know, you do have to be careful, don’t you, that you don’t offend God as one of his children?” And he said, “Oh yes, yes, but I believe that I could sin. I believe that I could have murdered somebody this morning and I’d still be a Christian.” Now maybe through the Holy Spirit, I should be led with a fellow like that to share some of the “falling away” warnings and the apostasy warnings. Maybe someone else comes along and says, “Well I think I’ve made my commitment. But boy, I don’t know whether I can keep it or not.” Maybe there Don, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, should share a verse like, “No one shall snatch them out of my hand.” I’m wondering loved ones, is that not the way we should be approaching this thing, rather than trying to come out with an eternal security or a falling from grace doctrine? Which for instance, I’d push you on this, isn’t it true that we all believe that God will forgive until seventy times seven? And yet, there are other verses in scripture such as, “My spirit shall not always strive with man,” and verses that warn that you ought not to press the thing to far lest your heart be hardened. So isn’t it true that if we came across somebody that was carelessly sinning day-after-day, we would certainly not quote, “until seventy times seven.” We tend to quote the other side. So I’m wondering, is this not something of the attitude that we should take to these precious verses? Of course, I’m game to share my proof text, but I’m wondering, is God not challenging us here to come into something new about these things? Especially before I start coming out with – because I’d just stopped in midstream there as I saw what I was doing. Here I was quoting Don’s proof texts and trying to knock down each one of them as I quoted them. And it seems to me, we’re losing something because all of us would testify to the fact that we are amazed at how patient God is being with us, and how good he is being to us. So okay, okay. Now I will Don, I’ll bash in there if you want, but I don’t know that mine are any better. [Question inaudible 31:43] Yes, that’s right. That’s right. [Question inaudible 31:53] I hope you will explain verse 5. Don’t ask me to. [Question inaudible 31:18] Okay, okay, okay. [Question inaudible 32:22] And that’s good. What you’re pointing to in verse 5, that old Paul did not get all taken up with, “This person can fall from grace or he can’t fall from grace,” or even, “This person has fallen from grace or this person hasn’t fallen from grace,” but “what can we do with this person now so that we may be sure his spirit will be saved in the day of Jesus?” That’s really the issue. Yes, certainly we’re in the business of being life savers. [Question inaudible 33:48] But Don, that’s what happens. I have been in, I won’t say a thousand bible study groups, but boy dozens of bible study groups, where we have just ended up, it seems to me stealing from each other precious riches that meant something to us. And it seems this other approach ties up much more with what we believe about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides us to apply God’s word rightly. I would say of course, just to bag Don in that, loved ones, because that’s a dreadful verse there. It seems to me that of course what Paul is saying is, “Now this brother of ours is in such open and downright sin that he is in real danger of committing the sin against the Holy Spirit — that is of refusing to accept the conviction of the Holy Spirit. And he is in danger of losing the distinction between right and wrong. Now let us discipline him by casting him formally out of the membership of our body here, to give him pause for thought, so that he may maybe come to his senses and see, ‘Look at my brothers, and my elders in the body have taken this action. Maybe I am going the wrong way in my life.’” And it seems to me that’s something of what Paul means there. I don’t think he means to cast this man into hell because obviously he doesn’t. He’s saying that the Spirit may be saying it. I think I’m game to go into the old thing, but boy, the more you stand back and look at it, there are verses in scripture that seem almost to imply predestination. There are verses in scripture that seem to imply that we have free will. Is it not true that we have a miniature mind and we have a very inadequate tool in this language to express the thoughts of the infinite mind of God? All he can do is give us almost contradictions, and say the truth lies somewhere in the middle of the linguistic contradiction, and the Holy Spirit will lead you to that truth in the particular moment that you need it. I think the way I shared this with you early on — because I knew it was an issue because most of you were Baptists and therefore eternal security people, and here I was a lonely Methodist with my falling from grace, and you remember — I shared early on that it is amazing that if all of us here are faced with the same situation, we’ll act practically in the same way, whether we differ completely or not. For instance, someone will come to Don and they will be living a life that is not the life of a Christian at all, and he’ll say, “But you are a Christian.” And they’ll say, “Oh yes, I know I’m a Christian.” And he’ll say, “But you’re not living the life of a Christian.” And they’ll say, “Well I know that. Well, what should I do?” And he’ll say, “Well you’d better repent of your sins, and you’d better give yourself anew to Jesus.” And that same person comes to me and I say not, ”You are a Christian”, but I say, “Oh you were a Christian.” And they say, “Yes I was but I suppose well, I’m not now.” And I say, “You’re certainly not living the life of a Christian.” And they’ll say, “Well what should I do?” Well I’ll say, “Repent of your sins and give your life to Jesus.” And so it’s interesting that practically in the out working of it, those of us who believe in eternal security, and love Jesus with all our hearts, and those of us believe you can fall from grace and love Jesus with all our hearts, will give the same direction and instruction to a person who comes to us. I wonder, I honestly do, if you press me and say, “Yeah, yeah, but wouldn’t you deal differently with some Christian who came to you and wasn’t sure?” I’m not sure that we would. I think we would both try to find out through the Holy Spirit, whether this person’s uncertainty was based on the uncertainty of the consecration, or whether the uncertainty was based on some doubts that Satan was putting into their minds, and accordingly we would deal with them appropriately. We would tell them either to get their consecration straight, or we would give them some verses of assurance in scripture. I do. What seems dangerous to me, loved ones, is applying the wrong verse at the wrong time. That seems to me what’s dangerous. That would tie up with what Gus was saying, “Well I feel it has to be my daily walk,” because as you listen to him presumably you said “amen” to that. So it seems to me the issue is not probably what we believe a Christian has to walk. We all believe he has to walk with the same care. But the issue is applying the right word to the right person at the right time — discerning whether a person is careless or whether he isn’t. [Question inaudible 39:49] I think the danger of those of us who’d hold to the perseverance of the saints is that we’ll depend on that, we’ll rely on that rather than relying on Jesus and the Holy Spirit. And the danger with those of us who would believe we can fall from grace is that we’ll have everybody jumping every day and examining themselves less they fall out of the faith. And it seems to me, one way, you can get a jittery group of nervous people who never are confident, and the other way you can get a group of complacent and careless people who are confident when they shouldn’t be. [Question inaudible 41:20] Well I think so, Don. I hesitate to say we solved the problem of the ages, but I do think one of the things that – well, I’ll tell you as a Methodist, I was brought up to believe that certain doctrines were right. So I almost was not free to entertain the possibility of the other doctrine. If I’d meet somebody like Don, I’d naturally just rise to it like a fish to bait, going to the old arguments. And presumably those of you were brought up in a Calvinist Church, it is very hard to rise above and into Jesus. But it is very hard for us in our churches to rise above our little doctrines. And I think that’s what we have to do. Let’s be true, too, in this. I don’t think it’s the fact that it’s a denominational church that makes it impossible. It’s simply that we take a wrong attitude to our doctrines. It seems to me we think our doctrines [inaudible 42:28] are absolute truth, and we have to say the bible [inaudible 42:43] is absolute truth. [Question inaudible 42:46] That’s right, yes. It’s a love relationship between us and Jesus. We always want to get something to prove that we’re in that besides our existing in it and experiencing it. [Question inaudible 43:37] No, that’s right. [Question inaudible 43:45] Well that’s the appeal of Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness. You have a club that you can club them with. But you know, when you think how many of us have fallen into the same thing in our Christian Churches even. Don’t you think it’s good to let the Holy Spirit and all the other churches preach to us, too, at this moment? Don’t you think it’s really important for us to realize that we can come into the same danger, that proud statement of the people who said, “I am of [Inaudible 44:24]. I am of Paul.” But then our proud statement, “But I am of Christ.” “So I am this denomination, that denomination.” “But I am nondenominational.” And it’s very important that we to do not allow ourselves to think that we are the true church. Probably the middle way is depending on the Holy Spirit, isn’t it — not a confidence that we have the middle way. There’s a modern poem that I don’t know that I can remember it but, “Give us in this faltering war, the firm feet of humility.” Those were the last two verses of the stanza, “Give us in this faltering war, the firm feet of humility.” And it seems that that’s the safe place. You know a place of humility and a place of trust in the Holy Spirit and awareness that if we start standing on our own feet at any moment we
What’s the Purpose for Your Life? - APOLOGETICS
From Him, Through Him and to Him Second Title: Is There a Way to Make Sense Out of our Lives? Romans 11:36 Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill Let’s imagine a Greyhound bus draws up outside Garden Court and we all file right out that door and down and get into it and off we go down University Avenue on to Highway 94 and on. And after a little while, somebody says, “Where are we going?” and somebody else says, “Does anybody feel hungry? There is food back here.” So we all break out the food and we have a really good lunch and then somebody says, “Why are we on this bus?” but somebody else says, “Let’s sing some songs and let’s play some games”, so we sing some songs and we play some games. Now, the situation is strange enough for an afternoon but think of the neurosis that sets in after three days, and then think of the situation after we’ve been in that bus for 20 years and some of us are beginning to wonder, now, okay at the beginning maybe it didn’t matter where we were going, we were all having such a good time, but now we’re not all having such a good time. Some of us have got sick and some of us are enemies of each other and some of us are trying to protect ourselves in one corner against some others in another corner and some of us have too much food and some of us haven’t enough food and some of us have died and have been thrown off the bus, now….surely, surely it’s time to find out where we’re going and of course, exactly how it would happen I am not sure but as children are born to us, they begin to ask the questions that we used to ask when we first got on the bus and they say, “Why are we on this bus? Where are we going in the bus?” The parents just tell them, “Keep on laughing. Just keep on cleaning those windows,” and bit by bit we begin to realize that actually every one of us is trying to pretend that it doesn’t matter where we’re going as long as we keep ourselves occupied doing things in the bus and of course some of us find the situation so absolutely maddening that we feel we have to get out of such a meaningless position somehow or other and there is of course only one way off and that is the way those who died found — they were thrown off the bus — and so one of us, unthinkable though it is, writes a book on how to commit suicide. Of course, we all think that could never ever happen. Except that those of us who know the story of the publishing of that book, know it has already happened. Of course what drove us to look for a book like that was the meaninglessness of the other writers on the bus who wrote books purporting to explain why we were there and their books were so dumb. How to win by intimidation? How to be happy though married? How to make a fortune in real estate or in bus seats? And we just felt this is dumb. All you’re doing is telling us how to occupy ourselves while we are on this bus but it doesn’t tell us why we’re on it or where we’re going. It just tells us how to spend our time while we’re here and more and more of course, we all began to feel the meaninglessness of the whole situation and it’s interesting you know, and you’ve probably already done it, all you have to do is to transpose the scene from a Greyhound bus to a sphere spinning through the space of the universe at hundreds of miles an hour and you’ve got the predicament of the human race. Now, let’s imagine that a person suddenly appears on the bus not through the normal birth experience that the other children had, but he appears miraculously in the bus and he says, “The bus belongs to my Father, he is the owner”, and then he takes some of us aside and he explains to us why we are on the bus and where we’re going and why we do exist. You can imagine how invaluable would be the books written by the few of us that listen to that kind of information and so it is loved ones. So it is here on THIS Greyhound bus. We realize the terrible truth that none of us on the bus can actually explain where the bus is going precisely because we’re on it ourselves. We can’t be outside it and look at it and see where it’s going. And we can’t explain who owns it or who keeps it going because we’re on the bus and that is the prison in which we find ourselves. So the books that any of us write are limited to telling us how to spend our time while we’re on it but they cannot tell us where it’s going or why we’re here. The only books that can are the books written by the friends of this unique man that boarded the bus some years ago. Now where are those books? Where is that explanation? Oh without any question, in those first 11 chapters of Romans. They differ from all that Bertrand Russell produced, all that Plato produced, all that the greatest travelers on the bus have ever written, because they explain why we exist from outside our existence and those first 11 chapters of Romans are the clearest and the most profound explanation of the meaning of our lives that we have on our earth. That’s why we spent these 10 years studying those chapters in Romans. If you understand those and if you have entered into the life that they describe, the world can give you little more than that except maybe a little elaboration or illustration. Today of course, is an interesting day for us because we come to the very last couple of sentences in that unique explanation of the meaning of our lives. We come today to the last verse that concludes that clear explanation and maybe you would look at it, loved ones. It’s Romans 11:36 and of course in the miraculous way that this man Paul was inspired by the Creator to write, he summarizes the whole explanation of the meaning of our lives with three prepositions and he talks about the Father of Jesus. Romans 11:36, “For from him and through him and to him are all things.” “For from him and through him and to him are all things.” That’s it. That’s the meaning. First preposition is ‘Ek’ or as it appears in that verse ‘ex autou’ ‘from him’ and that’s the first truth that we can breathe a sigh of relief and relax. Einstein was right. The order and design of our world shows beyond all doubt that it is not the result of the casting of a dice. That’s the way Einstein puts it. The order and design of our world shows clearly that God did not cast the dice, that what we experienced here is not simply the result of time plus chance. We can breathe a sigh of relief because Darwin was right. Even if there is any evolution or no evolution in the world, still you remember at the very end of “The Origin of Species” he says, “What a glorious way that our Creator has found to produce our world”, that however he made it, there had to be someone who created at the very beginning the first proton, the first neutron. Whether after that it evolved or was again created in great stages by him is in a sense irrelevant to the fact that there had to be a personal mind to create the first cell. From him, everything has come from the dear Father of Jesus. The Zoroastrians and the Socinians are wrong. It was not created by some Demiurge or some impersonal élan vital. It was created by a dear Father who is the Father of Jesus, everything, everything. That means Bing Crosby’s ‘Blue of the Night’. That means Jack Benny’s ‘Stare’. It means Danny Kaye. It means Perry Como. It means all the comedians that we’ve ever heard. They came from God because that’s what it says, “From him are all things.” Everything that is filled with laughter and filled with jokes, he made smiles and he made funny bones and he made tickles and he made laughter and he made singing saints. “From him are all things”, yet it’s amazing isn’t it how we kind of take that into our minds but we still have the idea that our God is somehow a stern and foreboding kind of creature. Can you see loved ones that “from God are all things” means that all the happiest things that we know, come from God. It is interesting, the more you and I obey and love him, the more we see the deeper meaning of ‘from him’ because ‘Ek’ really means ‘out of him’. Out of the heart of God’s nature have come all things, not just from him, but out of the heart of his nature. Even though we believe the world is not simply an emanation of God — it is a creation — yet God himself put part of his own nature in all the things that he has made so that actually the things that he has made show us what he himself is like. I don’t know if you like country western music. I don’t but I like one song by old Tom Hall. “Old dogs and children and watermelon wine”, do you know that one? It’s a dear song and God is the one, who made all dogs and children and watermelon wine, and they come out of his very heart and when you see the faithfulness and the loyalty of an old dog, the dear heart that made that old dog must be more faithful and more loyal than the old dog. When you see little children so trusting and so joyous, don’t you see that the dear person who made them must have more happiness in his own heart? He must be more trusting. He must be more open. He must be simpler than they are and watermelon wine, oh He must be more exciting, more exhilarating, and more carefree than the greatest wine that ever was drunk. He has to be. The Creator who made these things made them out of his very own heart and so loved ones, every time we look at those things, we see a shadow of the perfection of those things in our Creator. That’s what it means “from him are all things.” Actually it means you too. It’s interesting but it’s hard to find any of us who have not something good in us, isn’t it? Now, you might differ from me a little on this, I would dislike the Hitler character as much I think as anybody in this room. But it’s interesting if you look at those old movies and you see even that, that person who is regarded as one of the most hateful and the most evil man that ever lived and you see him receiving a bouquet of flowers from some little German girl in the early days, you sense there is even in that heart, some tenderness, some kindliness. Loved ones so it is in all of us, there probably isn’t one of us here who hasn’t some kindliness or tenderness in some deep part of our hearts towards someone or something. That’s what it means ‘From him are all things’. There isn’t one of us here in this room who have not something of the remains of God’s image and character still manifesting itself in us. That’s where all good comes from in the world. I agree with anybody here that it is true that many of us have lost the freedom and the freshness to be ourselves that we had when we were little children. I agree with that. Old Wordsworth you remember says, “Heaven lies about us in our infancy! Shades of the prison house begin to close upon the growing boy… At length the Man perceives it die away, and fade into the light of common day.” I think those lines would be felt by many of us to be true. It is true that sometimes when we go out into the freshness and the cleanness of a spring morning, we can feel kind of shop soiled and worn and unclean inside and sometimes we feel yeah, we have lost some of that freshness that God gave us and when we look at swallows soaring so freely in the air and we look at the lightness of summer breezes and we look at the glinting of sun on the lake water, we see that somehow nature seems to have retained some of that and we begin to realize that there is a lot of this creation that exists through him, through God. Somehow the birds seem to be able to do their thing because they have a deep confidence that there is someone who loves them. They seem to be free to forget themselves and to do what they were made to do, to sing joyously or to soar magnificently and somehow we begin to see that there’s a great part of the universe that does exist simply through God, through his continuing to energize these creatures and these things with his own life and we begin to see that it’s his punctuality and faithfulness and maintaining the laws of the universe that enable the sun to come up on the dot every morning. Somehow we begin to realize it’s because he holds together the protons and the neutrons that make up the wings of the birds and that holds together the resistance of the air that enables them to soar against the winds and the currents and we begin to sense, yeah, all things exist through him. If he dropped his little finger they’d all fall apart and then maybe you know some of us say, “Yeah, well, I mean you said all things but you just did point out the contrast that we often feel between the heaviness and the burdensome nature of our own lives and the lightness and the spontaneity of these natural things that you are talking about.” Surely, you can’t say “through him, all things” when we find ourselves not reacting like that. Except, loved ones, that every twinge of a muscle that you and I feel, every line of worry in our faces, every strain that we experience at any time through the day is also the yearning and the message of God’s spirit to tell us that we could live like the birds. So even those of us who don’t rest upon him, exist through first of all his grace in not destroying us and throwing us off the bus and secondly, through the very messages that come to us through our anxiety and our worry and our sleepless nights. He is still getting through to us, there is a better way to live than this. There is a way to live above these things. In other words, all things exist through God’s expressing to us through his spirit that it’s possible to live as free as the birds, that it is possible for God’s spirit to remake us so that we experience the simplicity and the trustfulness of children again, so that we experience again the liberation and the freedom and exhilaration of soaring swallows, that it is possible to express the experience the cleanness and the freshness of the waves on the Hawaii beaches. It is possible to express and experience again the exhilaration of salmon that leap in the waters. It is possible because the same Holy Spirit that enables them to act like that way is available to us, really, and that the reason we are so heavy and burdensome is because we’re living like the people on the bus. We’re spending all our time and all our energies and all our thoughts on how to make the life on the bus, which is not at all our home, as comfortable and pleasant as we can. Instead of spending all our energies trusting the dear Father to take us wherever he wants us to go in our lives and concentrating on doing what he has made us to do whether it pays us or whether it doesn’t pay us and the Holy Spirit is constantly speaking to all of us those things. So even old Auden’s “In headaches and in worry, vaguely life leaks away.”, even those headaches and worry are God’s dear spirit trying to say to us, there’s a better way if you trust me, the Holy Spirit and you begin to take me as your friend and begin to take me as the Lord and the Master of your life and begin to think what I guide you to think and do what I guide you to do, you’ll begin to live like the freshest part of God’s creation. Through him are all things. Of course, the real reason for our whole existence is in that final preposition. It’s the Greek word ‘eis’. ‘Eis autov’, to him, onto him and possibly even into him, that’s why we’re here on earth. For that spirit of God, so to begin to mold our own lives and our characters that we are fit to live in heaven with our dear Father and his Son, that’s it. That’s it. He made us to be his friends, to live with him forever in an infinite universe that has more exhilaration and more beauty in it than we have ever touched. That’s why God made us that we would live with him in friendship and in love. It is interesting that the Greek word can mean ‘into him’ not that we would be absorbed and lose our individuality as the middle-eastern religions would have it, but that we would be involved intimately with him. We would come into him and be part of him and yet retain our own individuality and in that way express more of his glory in more diverse ways. That’s why we’re here loved ones. Really is a vale, a vale of soul making, it is, and this world is not our home. We are just passing through and the bus is going somewhere and we have just a very short span of life. Most of us have just about 70 years to let the Holy Spirit of God that holds everything in existence begin to remake us so that we become like his Son Jesus and begin to live that free life that he lived and that’s why we are here, you know. Now it doesn’t matter how burdened you are, it doesn’t matter what a prisoner you are, you might have thought that, “Shades of the prison house begin to close upon the growing boy. At length the man perceives its die away, and fade into the light of common day,” it doesn’t matter how imprisoned you feel you are in the limitations of your own personality or in your own habits or your own thought patterns, it doesn’t matter. The dear Creator who made you first is able to remake you as he has done many of us in this room and the secret is he does it through your beginning to respect the dear Holy Spirit that holds in existence all that we see around us, really. He is the real meaning of Einstein’s equation. He is the real energy that is the heart of the whole universe and he is able to bring a new life into you, he is. Really all a person has to do is to recognize as real these things that we have talked of this morning and to begin to live your life on the basis of them and most of all, to begin to speak to this dear spirit of God who is able to change you. Let us pray. Lord Jesus we sense that something great has happened to us in your death and resurrection but we’ve been trying to make it real by our own will power. We see now that that’s impossible. The swallows do not fly by their own will power. The daffodils do not bloom because they want to, they do it because of the Holy Spirit, your very own self, your very own life-energy and O Holy Spirit, we realize that you are a person and that our Lord Jesus called you “him” and he said that he, the Holy Spirit, will lead you into all truth. He will take of the things that are mine and impart them to you. Holy Spirit, we need to be freed in our own lives and we need to begin to live as people who are released from the prison that we have been in for years. Holy Spirit, we would look to you now and begin simply to trust you and to acknowledge you and to be prepared to listen to any slight indication or impression that comes from you. So we intend to do that Holy Spirit and we ask you to remake us by making real in us the great resurrection that took place in Jesus. We ask this for his glory. 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.
Why are We Here on this Earth? - APOLOGETICS
Why Are We Here? Why Are We Alive? Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill There was an old Swedish farmer in Northern Minnesota who worked hard all his life and was delighted when at last he and his wife late in life, had a little baby boy. All through the years this farmer who didn’t have much of an education was preoccupied with one question. It was a ‘why’ question and he just looked forward to the time when his boy would be able to go to school and get the education that he had not been able to get and especially that sometime or other, he would at last get to the great University of Minnesota. The time came when the boy came to that age and the father took him down to one of the dormitories at the University of Minnesota. The boy went through his first quarter and then went home at Christmas time. The father was looking forward to seeing him because he felt, “My boy will now be able to answer the question that has hypnotized me and mesmerized me and made me desperate all through the years of my life.” And so he asked the son, “Well, what did you do this quarter?” The boy said, “Calculus, analytical geometry and we did some physics.” He started to outline all the subjects and the father was interested and listened enthusiastically. But then he said, “Now, did you find out?” The boy said, “Did I find out what?” The father said, “Why are we here? Why are we here?” The boy said, “What do you mean why are we here?” The father said, “Why are we alive? Why are we here?” The boy said, “No dad, they didn’t talk about that.” Throughout the years of the boy’s life, the four years that he passed at the university, the dad would keep on asking him. After the boy had outlined each quarter’s studies, the father would say, “And, why are we alive?” The boy would say, “No, I don’t know.” The day came for the graduation and it was the father’s first time to come onto the campus and he walked down the mall and he looked up above the Northrop Auditorium and read, ‘The search for truth’. “This is what this university was established for. This is what I was looking forward to you being able to tell me. Do you know now why we’re here?” The boy just looked down and said, “No, no”. That’s a hideous situation isn’t it? I had the same situation. I went to Queen’s University in Belfast and so I am not knocking you, but it is ridiculous, isn’t it? It is irrational that all of us here are studying all kinds of different subjects. We know the answers to all kinds of questions but we don’t know the one question that is at the basis of all other questions and that a normal, ordinary, uneducated man fastens onto as the most important question to be answered in this life. Really, loved ones, it is irrational that we do not deal with it. It is like that situation that I once described before. A Greyhound bus draws up just outside there on University Avenue. We all get into it and it goes down University Avenue onto Interstate 35 and out onto the freeway. After we all get to know each other for 15 or 20 minutes, somebody says, “Now, where are we going?” And somebody else says, “Bring out the food, there’s food back here. I’m hungry. Let’s have lunch.” And so we all get into lunch and have some food and then somebody says, “But what are we all doing in the bus here?” And somebody else says, “Look, let’s have some songs and play some games.” And so we all start singing and playing some games. Then after three hours, a kind of neurosis sets in because we all begin to realize that nobody is answering the question. Everybody is pretending that we’re having such a great time that it doesn’t matter where we’re going as long as we just keep doing it. Then imagine that situation three weeks later. Imagine the kind of uncertainty and insecurity that begins to spread among us all. Now, take it on 20 years. Some of us are not so happy as we once were, because some of us are getting sick. Some of us have died and been thrown off the bus and we don’t know what happened to us. Others are having children and the children are beginning to ask the question, “But daddy why? Where are we going? Why are we here?” And everybody keeps saying, “Don’t bother about that. Just keep singing. Keep laughing. Keep cleaning the windows of the bus.” Well, after a while, you’ll do anything to get off that bus. You’ll do anything to get out of such a meaningless situation. Some are crowding into one corner in order to protect themselves from another group in another corner. Some have too much food and some haven’t enough food. Eventually one guy starts writing the only book that we’re all interested in then, it’s the only way to get off the bus, “How to Commit Suicide”. Do you know such a book has already been written? Really you can’t blame a person doing it. Because we’re on a space ship that is going far faster than any Greyhound bus would be able to go on an American freeway and we are spinning very fast through space. Loved ones, there has to be some reason why we’re here. There has to be. It has to be a basic concern of education to find out why — otherwise everything is meaningless. Who cares what the windows are made of or what the cushions on the seats are made of or how to live happily with each other? Who cares about that if nobody actually knows why we’re here or where we’re going or what we’re going to end up as. Of course, the problem in it we all know. The problem is we’re all in the bus. Nobody’s coming from outside to tell us why we’re all here. The only people we know are the people on the bus. That’s why that London musical was written, ‘Stop the world, I want to get off’. We have a feeling if we could get off it or if we could get somebody onto it who wasn’t on it at the beginning, he might be able to tell us what it’s all about. He might be able to tell us why we’re alive. It’s interesting. One guy comes along called Mohammad and he says, “I can tell you”, but he’s on the bus. What does he know? He never was off the bus. He came onto it like the rest of us. He was born on it. Another fellow called Buddha comes along and he says, “I’ll tell you why we’re here”, but he was born on the bus. He doesn’t know either and another fellow called Zoroaster comes along and he says, “I’ll tell you why.” The difficulty with them all is, they’re all limited by the fact that they were born on the bus. They were never off it. There’s only one man that came onto the bus from beyond. There’s only one man that has ever left the bus and come back to show us that he was able to come back and to leave it when he wanted. That was the man Jesus of Nazareth whose historicity we studied last Sunday. If you ask Him, “Why are we alive?” he’ll begin like this. He’ll say, “Well, first of all whatever is of flesh, whatever is born of flesh is flesh. You are born of flesh. You’re born of the same kind of substance as your mother and father. I want to tell you this, you’re not going to last any longer than they are. It doesn’t matter what you do. The physical life that you have and the mental life and the emotional life that you have, it’s only going to last about 70 or 80 years. It’s not going to last any longer. It doesn’t matter what you do to make that life better. That life is not going to go on more than 70 or 80 years.” In fact He would say to us this morning, “You’re actually more dead than you were when you were 17 because the old cells are dying.” You say, “Yes, but some are being renewed.” Yes, but less are being renewed after 17 than are dying. You’re actually starting to deteriorate from about 16 or 17 years. The marks of that deterioration become obvious in the color of our hair later on and then the wrinkles. But from a surprisingly early age, we’re already condemned to death. Jesus would say that to us this morning, “Get this clear. The way you’re moving at the moment is towards extinction. It’s a temporal life that you have. That flesh life that you have is not going to last more than 70 or 80 years.” The strange thing that you and I face is we feel that’s wrong. We feel it’s not true. There’s something in us that says, “No, I wasn’t made to go out like a light after 70 years. I wasn’t. There’s something in me that I feel goes on. I feel it goes on.” This book says God has put eternity into man’s mind. There’s something inside us, isn’t there, that makes us rebel against the idea that we won’t last more than 70 or 80 years. Actually, we go to a funeral and it’s a deceptive thing. We’re absolutely convinced that that will never happen to us however close we get to it. There’s something in us that makes us feel, “Yes, but the person is still alive.” We’re not made to just die and be nothing. We feel all that frustration and try to overcome it. The gold watch at the end of the 30 or 40 years seems to signify the end, but we feel it can’t be the end. There must be something more. You know what you and I do and this is what Jesus would explain. We actually try to take this temporary life and make it into the life that will last forever. We try to make it into the life of eternity. We say, “Okay, it is pretty wild here. You can’t go on a cruise now without some hijackers probably killing you. You can’t be sure of what will happen when the thing really blows up in the Middle East. We can’t really be sure how often we get onto a plane and know that we’ll land at our destination. The whole thing is getting pretty rocky.” When Wall Street shakes, we all shake. It is an uncertain, unstable world. Yet I feel I was made for stability. You know what we do. We try to parley all the attributes and qualities that we have into some kind of stability. That’s why we go to school. We like to think we go to school to search for truth. We like to think we go to the school to benefit society. But many of us go to school so that we’ll get a decent education, and get a good job. Maybe through the money we earn, we can establish some kind of stability and security in our life. This is because we feel we were made for the stability and security of going on forever. We try to do that and you know how we do it. We try to trade up our cars and trade up our houses to get a little above the crowd. If we can just get our head above this economy, maybe we’ll have the kind of stability that we believe we were made for. So that’s what we do. We try to build up our stocks and shares. We try to build up our investments. We try to get the best medical package, and the best insurance package. We try somehow to satisfy this feeling inside us that we deserve and are made for the security and stability of eternity. Yet we are haunted all the time, aren’t we? We’re haunted by one terrible figure. We’re haunted by the figure of that haggard old face with the bedraggled beard that was carried out of a luxury apartment at the top of a motel here in the States. He had Kleenex still sticking to his fingers and died on the way to hospital of malnutrition. Why we’re haunted by him is, he was the richest man in the world. Howard Hughes was the richest man in the world. He did more than any of us will ever be able to do to try to make himself secure and give himself the safety of eternity in this present world. The guy died a neurotic, of malnutrition. And we have a horrible feeling that as we try to build up investments and as we try to build up our security and our jobs, we might never actually make it. Every time we lose a job and every time the economy blows up in our face, we sense again, “Yes, I feel I’m made for eternity but I am not doing too well at getting it.” Jesus would say, “It’s because whatever is born of the flesh is flesh”. What you’ve got here is just temporary life. Yet we feel we’re something more than that. I would be surprised if you didn’t feel what I’ve felt. At least the men here — we men are so miserably ambitious. But don’t you think most of us have felt like John Milton. John Milton was a great poet in 17th century England and from when he was very-very young, he felt, “I am born for some great thing. I am born to achieve something worthwhile.” I think all of us feel that. We feel, “Well, we’re worth something. We are something valuable. We are born to do something great.” We try to do something great, and achieve something great. We try to be important and to get other people to treat us as important. But the more we try, the more hopeless it becomes. We really do feel that there’s nobody quite like us. We feel that our life is unique and individual and different from everybody else’s but the rest of the four billion don’t seem to notice it. They don’t treat us that way. We try to get them to give us attention. We try to get them to give us recognition and a sense of self-worth but somehow we can’t get it. It doesn’t matter how much we try, we’re still haunted by certain figures. John Wayne was pretty popular and yet not too many people talk about him now. Bing Crosby was pretty popular and yet not many people talk about him now. You’re haunted by that terrible feeling that you’ll go out like a light and nobody will even know that you’ve gone no matter what you do. It’s the same with happiness. We all feel we’re made for the happiness of eternity. That happiness for us happy human beings is a subtle thing. We believe we were made for the peace of Walden Pond combined with the outrageous excitement of the Arabian nights. If we just had the peace of Walden Pond we’d get bored to tears. If we just had the excitement we’d be worn out. So we spend a lot of our lives trying to get that combination. We use relationships and experiences and circumstances to try to get as much excitement as we want and then to keep as much peace and stability as we can. Somehow you can’t measure the two. You either end up bored or you end up over-excited. But it’s hard to get the combination. We work all kinds of relationships and all kinds of experiences with people, with drugs and with alcohol. We try to get that tremendous exhilaration that we feel we’re made for. But somehow it’s hard to hit it. In other words, we feel we’re made for eternity but somehow we can’t reproduce what we think eternity is. Jesus says, “Look, it’s because you’re working with temporary flesh life. You’re working with the life that you were born with and that life will never give you the sense of eternity.” He says to us this morning, “You are unique. You are unique. There is nobody like you in the whole world. And there has never been anybody like you in the whole world.” Here is the amazing thing, and it really should humble us loved ones. There’ll never be anyone like you in the whole world. There’ll never be anybody like you in the whole world. There won’t. You actually know that in your heart, don’t you? Even if you are an identical twin, you know you’re not an identical twin. You know there’s a difference in your personalities between you and your brother or you and your sister. There’s nobody like you in the whole world. There has never been anybody like you in the whole world and there will never be anybody like you in the whole world. You are unique and actually you know that in your heart of hearts. You know the business of fingerprints and how important that is. There are no two fingerprints alike. But beyond that, there are all kinds of differences that make you absolutely unique. Jesus is saying to us, “You’re unique and you have been put here by My Father, who is the Creator of the world, to do something and be something that nobody else can ever be or will ever be. My Father has made you so that you can show some of His nature that nobody else can show.” That’s the first reason you’re here. You are unique. There’s nobody like you in the whole universe. Do you realize there is nothing you do, there is nothing you think, there is nothing you say that God does not see, every second of your life? He knows what you do and say and think, every second of your life. He is watching you like a dear gentle father every moment of your existence. And He is working constantly to bring you into His own character and nature and to bring you close to Himself because He wants to explain to you what He put you here to do and to be. That’s it. You’re not just a number. You’re not just somebody who has mechanical ability. You’re not just somebody who has artistic ability. Your Creator has put you here to do and be something that nobody else can do or be. And the only way you’ll ever find that out, Jesus says, is to get to know His Father. In fact, He said that’s eternal life. Eternal life is not trying to produce the attributes or qualities that you think eternity has. Eternal life is actually knowing the person who made you. It’s getting to know Him personally and getting from Him an explanation of why He put you here, what He wants to do with your life and most of all, what He wants you to be. Some of us say, “Well, I see that. At times I’ve glimpsed it or thought I have. But I’ve been dissatisfied with the things I’ve been trying to do to make eternity real to myself. I’ve seen what an egotistical monster I’ve become as I’ve tried to draw people’s attention to me so I could get a sense of self-worth. I’ve seen how I’ve used other people to try to get all the money that I need or all the clothing that I need. I’ve seen that and have tried to change but I find that there’s something in me that keeps on doing that. I keep on being covetous and I keep on being greedy. I see what you’re saying that I’ve to get to know the Creator and he will explain to me why I am here, but I find that even when I’ve glimpsed that, I can’t be what I believe He wants me to be.” And that’s where Jesus would say, “Well, you see it is because whatever is born of the flesh is flesh. The personality and the self that you have here is not right. It’s born of the flesh. It’s got used to depending on the world. It’s got used to depending on things, on people and on circumstances to try to manufacture eternity in you. That’s what you’re like. That’s why I died. I didn’t die to bribe My Father to forgive your sins. He’s willing to forgive your sins. That’s not difficult. I died so that you could be changed. What My Father did was He foresaw the kind of person and the kind of monster you would develop into. He put you into me even before eternity. He destroyed you in me. That’s what my death is about. In 29 A.D., I died to show you what I had done for you in eternity. My father put you into me and He changed you completely. What you have to do is have that made real in you now. Then you’ll be able to do what God, My Father reveals to you that you should do.” In other words, you’ve really got to start all over again. You’ve got to be born again. You’ve got to have all the old attitudes that you’ve had for years and all the old desires that drive you — you’ve got to have them destroyed in My Son. You’ve got to start all over again and be born again. That alone, will begin to give you a sense of closeness to the Creator who made you. Loved ones, that’s why we’re alive. We’re alive to get to know our dear God that put us here. You have to get to know Him personally. You have to be changed by Him otherwise you won’t be able to be what He wants you to be. That you can do. “How?” Well you start off by believing these things that I’ve shared with you. They’re not things that I made up. They’re the things that Jesus told us in this book. He’s the only one that has ever been off the bus and he explained this to us. You have to start by believing it. You start by believing on the basis of the historical evidence and by believing on the basis of the words that He speaks here. This is no ordinary man. This is the Son of the Maker of the world and what He’s telling us about life is true. You’ve got to believe that. Secondly, you’ve got to turn away from your own attempts to reproduce eternity. That’s what repentance is. You’ve got to turn away from all the attempts you make to reproduce the stability of eternity. Does that mean no possessions, no jobs, and no bank account? No, that’s foolishness. It doesn’t mean that. But it does mean that you stop looking to those things for your security. It means you stop looking to the money that you’ve built up for security. The money is going to go with the rest. It’s going to burn up with everything else. You turn away from trying to establish the security and stability of eternity from this temporal life. Instead you look to God, your Father and you start talking to Him and asking Him, “Lord God, why did you put me here? What do you want me to do? What do you want me to be? What of yourself do you want to show to this world through me?” You start saying that. First you believe that these things are true. Then you repent by stopping doing that. If you say to me, “Does it mean everything?” Yes, it does. It means those moments when you throw in a little boast to get respect from your peers — that has to stop. You have to stop being envious of the other person because they’ve got all the attention this past week. You just stop doing it. You stop looking to the praise of men to try to get a sense of self-worth. You start looking to your Creator, your God and you start asking Him to give you a sense of His love and a sense of His appreciation and His knowledge of you. As soon as you do that, your Creator will start coming through to you, that’s it. First you believe, and then you start actually living like that. That’s why it says, ‘you believe and repent’, and that’s what enables you to be born again or to start all over again. If you are in the situation where this has come home to you for the first time today, then I would encourage you to act on it. I wouldn’t bother about anything else. I would act on it. If you don’t act on it and make a commitment today, the week will drag on through and you’ll find yourself back in your own old kind of frustrating life. You do need to make a definite break. That’s why Jesus said, “He who does not believe is condemned already.” He knows it so well, as now so then. If you don’t make a move today, you won’t make a move tomorrow. You don’t make a move the next week and it gets more ground into you as the days pass. So I would encourage you if this has come home to you as real, I would encourage you to make a commitment today. You can either make it where you stand during the last hymn, or during the last hymn you can just come up here. I’ll go down and kneel if it makes it easier for you to have somebody else at the altar. You can go up to the altar and ask God, “Lord, I have hardly known you have existed until this day but I ask you to rescue me from the futility of this meaningless existence that I’ve been involved in. I ask you to start getting through to me somehow. I don’t know how you’re going to do it, but start getting through to me why you put me here or what you want me to do and be.” Then the next step is to commit to turning from all the manipulations and methods you’ve used to try to reproduce eternity. God’s Spirit will bring those things to you. You just have to repent of them and stop them. And you have to ask God to give you the Spirit, the life of His own Son. If you do that in honesty, God will come through. That’s His whole purpose in putting us here. The whole thing is meaningless if He doesn’t come through. He will come through to you and He will give you strength to begin to live a life with Him during this coming week and during the rest of the weeks in your life. Then you’ll be able to give those dear dads and moms of yours some answer if they ever ask that question. Why are we here? Why are we alive?
Where Do We Get Our Moral Sense? - APOLOGETICS
Is There a God? Misconceptions Transcript of a clip from the talk IS THERE A GOD by Rev. Ernest O’Neill Is there a God? Will you think about that a little yourself? Is there a God? One of my problems was that I continually answered another question even though I kept saying that I was answering the question — Is there a God? I kept trying to answer other questions. You might like to know some of those other questions that even our professors at school and our teachers answer and they claim to be answering the question — Is there a God? The first one I had trouble with was when the liberal theologians said, “What does it matter? What does it matter, whether there is or there is not? If it gives old ladies and poor psychological cripples some comfort, what does it matter whether there is a God or not?” Well, I think there are many old ladies who feel the same as I do, who do not want to live an illusion. We don’t. We are not such cripples that we need an illusion or a lie of which we are willing to be the deceived victims. So, we don’t want a God that is just an illusion. When I heard people asking the question — “Is there a God?” — I often thought, are they asking, “Is there some great ‘other’ that will give poor souls some encouragement in their life”? That’s not the question. That’s not the question at all. The question is — Is there a God? Is there a supreme being? Some of us don’t have trouble with that misconception but we have trouble with another one. We say, “Is there a miserable, gloomy, old gentleman living in heaven somewhere who tells us not to go to the theater, not to dance, and not to smoke? And when He looks down and sees any of us enjoying ourselves at all, he yells, “Cut it out!” I found that was the question I was trying to answer. I was giving the name “God” to all the distorted, depressing misconceptions of him that I had accumulated during the past years. I was saying, does such a morbid old being exist? That’s not the question we are asking. That is an emotional question but the intellectual question we are asking is, is there a supreme being, who is greater than all of us here, and who is responsible for putting us all here? You may wonder, why do some of the greatest minds in our world NOT believe in God? It’s because of this third misconception. A lot of us think we are asking, not the question — Is there a God? – but — Is there a being that I must obey? Of course, we don’t want to have anybody that we have to obey, so we answer “No”. That’s what causes many of the most intelligent men and women in our world to deny the existence of God. It’s amazing, but they do. They deny the existence of God not on intellectual reasons at all, but because they know the consequences that would follow once they admit that there is a God. And the consequences are, that they would have to obey that God.
Why is Belief in a God So Pervasive? - APOLOGETICS
Is There a God? Best Mind’s Viewpoints Transcript of a clip from the talk, IS THERE A GOD, by Rev. Ernest O’Neill. What do some of the “giants” say in answer to the question? What do intellectual giants like Darwin and Einstein say in answer to the question “Is there a God”? We have our thoughts, but are we in line with those who have brilliant minds? Here is Einstein’s own statement, “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior Spirit who reveals Himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds, that deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.” (Einstein’s quote is one quoted by Paul Little in his book, “Know Why You Believe”). Probably no man has understood the complexity or the beauty and the order of our world, as Einstein has. And yet he says himself, “Of one thing I am absolutely certain. This carefully designed universe is the result of the activity of a mind that is far superior to any of ours and it’s that mind that I regard as God.” What about Darwin? A lot of us think of his “Origin of the Species” for what it is — an incredible book and an incredible breakthrough in thinking. Yet, we automatically say, “Well, of course Darwin destroyed any idea of God that we ever had.” Darwin ends his book “The Origin of the Species” like this. “There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.” (Creator is a capital “C”. It’s no idea of an élan vital or an impersonal force. It’s a capital “C”.) “…having being originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one. And whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from some simpler beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved.” Of course Darwin saw the theory of evolution just as that, a theory; a hypothesis of the way the thing might have developed after the Creator created. And whether you and I are arguing for evolution or not, we ought to see that Darwin, who is regarded as the father of evolution, wrote that sentence, “There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.” In fact it doesn’t matter how far back you go. If you go to 400 B.C. and go with Plato and Socrates, you’ll find them absolutely certain that there is a God, with no doubt in their minds at all. You go further back to 4000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, and you will find that people are talking in the same terms. They are talking of a God who is real and personal. Here’s one of the most ancient engravings we have, “A man must truly proclaim the greatness of his God, and a young man must wholeheartedly obey the command of his God.” That’s from 4000 B.C. So, throughout the world’s history, in whatever place you go, among whatever people you travel, there has always been this unquestioned assumption that there is a God, there is a supreme being. And not only an unquestioned assumption that there is such a being but there has gone along with it a worship and respect of that being. Among every tribe and every nation, among all peoples there has been a general unquestioned assumption that there is a God who created the universe.
Is There a God? Best Minds Viewpoints - APOLOGETICS
Why is Belief in a God So Pervasive? Transcript of a clip from the talk, IS THERE A GOD by Rev. Ernest O’Neill We here tend to ask the question, “Why is there such a general unquestioned assumption that there is a God”? Well, honestly it takes dumb, stupid, sophisticates like us to ever question it. It really does. It takes you to be educated to reject the idea that there is a God. If you just let your mind run in the way it normally does in everyday life, and follow through the normal cause and effect thinking that the mind operates on in daily life, you are bound to come to the conclusion that there is a God. Let’s say you go outside your room door or outside your house and there at the sidewalk is a solid gold Cadillac or for those of us who don’t like that, a 650 Honda motorbike. You go outside in the morning and you see those there. Now, you know what your mind asks. It asks, “What explosion put this here?” Well, it doesn’t ask, what big bang theory is responsible for this? It doesn’t. It immediately asks, “Who put this here?” Because all of us know that explosions destroy. They don’t create and they certainly don’t create machinery like a Cadillac or like a Honda. Or do you go out and look at them and say, “A-ha! Obviously it came about through spontaneous generation…from some decomposing substance.” Then you look for the decomposing substance. Well, you know you don’t. Your mind does not ask those questions. It has to be taught to ask those questions. It actually has to be perverted to ask those questions. Your mind automatically says, “Who left the Honda here, who left the Cadillac?” Or as Inspector Clouseau would say, “The Cadillac evolved from a Volkswagen and the Honda evolved from a ten-speed Schwinn bicycle.” Well, you don’t, because you are still left with the problem, who put the bicycle there or who put the Volkswagen there? The mind knows that even if there is some evolution (and there is obviously some kind of evolution within the species at least), even if there is some evolution, even if there was ever an explosion, even if there was ever spontaneous generation, somebody had to originally create the thing from which these things evolved. If there was an explosion, who made what exploded? Somebody must have created something originally, if there was a decomposing substance. Who created the substance that decomposed? Who created the stuff that exploded? Who created the original single cell amoeba that eventually evolved? In other words, those so-called answers are not an explanation of creation at all. Normally when one sees a world like this or one sees a mountain — one responds the same way as Einstein does or the same way as the most primitive person in the whole universe would respond. One says, “Who put the mountain there, who put the world here?” Maybe you will say, why do you ask “who”? Why do you ask, who put the world here? I can see that something must have started it all somewhere, but why do we say it’s a “him” and not an “it”? Well, loved ones the same way as we draw other conclusions from everyday life. We look at what is here and we work back to the kind of force or being that would have had to create it. Let’s say you go out of your room door into the dormitory corridor and you see a bone lying on the floor. You just do not say, “That cannibal girl down the corridor or that savage counselor has been chewing up freshmen again.” You don’t. If you see a bone that looks gnawed, you know what normally produces gnawed bones. There’s a dog somewhere and that dog is out again. Or if you work it the other way, you go outside your door and find a piece of paper with a simultaneous equation on one side and part of “Paradise Lost” written on the other. You just do not say, “That stupid dog has lost his assignment again!” However, clever the dog is you know that a dog cannot produce “Paradise Lost”. A dog cannot produce simultaneous equations. And that’s why we say, who? Can you imagine a chair making you? Can you imagine even an animate object like a dog making you? We can’t. We automatically say no. Whatever made us, whether he made us in one moment, or whether he made us over a period of time, he must have been capable of putting these powers of development within us. So, he must be as personable at least, as we are. That’s why we ask “who”? The being that created us must be at least as personal as we ourselves are.
Is There a God? Misconceptions - APOLOGETICS
Where Do We Get Our Moral Sense? Transcript of a clip from the talk IS THERE A GOD by Rev. Ernest O’Neill There is another reason, which I think is strong for believing that there is a God and it is something a little different from our personableness. Have you ever thought of this? There are three and a half billion of us here in this world, who spend most of our time being self assertive, self defensive, trying to get our own way and insist on our own rights. That’s what comes naturally to us, isn’t it? The more of us that are born, the more of us that lie, the more of us that steal, the more of us that fornicate, the more of us that swear, and the more of us that fight. We spend a lot of our time fighting — personally, internationally, nationally, and socially. The bigger a city becomes, the more of a jungle it becomes. We find it far easier in our personal lives to lose our temper than to keep our temper. We find it far easier to be critical of other people than to be kind to other people. Yet we keep on saying these things are wrong. Now why? From where do we get that sense of moral obligation? You all agree it’s a nuisance to us. It brings guilt to us. It doesn’t make life easy and it isn’t easy to obey these things that we say we should do. We all say we should love each other, and yet we find it more natural to hate each other. We all say we should be unselfish towards each other and yet we find it more natural to be selfish. We all say we should build each other up and yet we find it more natural to criticize each other and tear each other down. Yet we keep on saying that those things are wrong. Now, it can’t be herd instinct because you know often you do what you believe is right against the pressures of your peers. It certainly isn’t what is convenient because often you do things that you feel you ought to do that are very inconvenient. It can’t be what pays you to do, because often it is a real disadvantage to you, to do what is right. It can’t be what you were educated to do because wherever you go in the world, unselfishness is lauded as something that a person should be. Wherever you go in the world, everyone condemns cowardice in the face of enemies. Everybody condemns anyone who lets their friends down. Wherever you go in the world, even where there is no education, you’ll find the standards are more or less the same. How could that be when none of us take to goodness naturally, and when it is a nuisance to us? Is it not because there is a being that has created us, who has standards that are higher than our natural ones and has wishes for our lives and plans for us that He is continually trying to communicate to us through our consciences?
God–What Is He Like? - APOLOGETICS
WHAT IS GOD LIKE? Video Clip transcript extracted from the talk IS THE BIBLE HISTORY OR MYTH by Rev. Ernest O’Neill By Rev. Ernest O’Neill Last Sunday we tried to talk about the question, “Is there a God”. You probably remember the conclusion we came to. The existence of a God of some kind is the most plausible and the most satisfactory explanation of the existence of our world, the existence of ourselves, the order and design of the universe and the presence in us of conscience and a sense of moral obligation to live better than we’re doing. Where we differ is what that supreme being is like. That’s where we have trouble. Most of us believe there is a supreme being of some kind, but in a way you must agree that’s not the big issue. So the big issue is not so much, is there a God, because it’s very hard to explain the universe apart from that. But the real question is what is He like? What is the supreme being like? Certainly by reading Homer’s odyssey, you can find out what he and his contemporaries thought the supreme being was like. You can tell what his people and his friends thought, but you can’t say that he was describing facts. All he was doing was giving his idea of what the supreme being might be like through the words of Odysseus. In other words, it’s foolishness to take what is a novel and treat it as if it is actual fact. Of course all we have here in books like Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ are the author’s own imaginary ideas of what God is like. Well let’s go to another man who is not a novelist by any means. Buddha is the recognized leader of millions of people in the world today. Buddha, in 500 B.C. had certain experiences. Those experiences are trusted by millions of people today as being authoritative accounts of what the creator of the world is like. Here in fact is the record of his first revelation in 500 B.C. when the great seer had comprehended that, “Where there is no ignorance whatever, there also the karma formations are stopped.” Then he had achieved a correct knowledge of all there is to be known, and he stood out in the world as a Buddha. He passed through the eight stages of transcendental insight and quickly reached their highest point. From the summit of the world downwards, he could detect no self anywhere, like the fire when it’s fuel was burnt up. He became tranquil. He had reached perfection and he thought to himself, “This is the authentic way on which in the past, so many great seers who also knew all higher and all lower things, have traveled on to ultimate and real truth and now I have obtained it”. Now you can see what Buddha thought about the supreme being behind the universe, or can you? Well, you can’t, because he doesn’t even mention it. Buddha hardly even believed that there was a supreme being. Most of his sermons are concerned not at all with the possibility or existence of a supreme being but they are concerned with a method of transcendental meditation by which one can psychically and psychologically escape from some of the disadvantages of this present world. In fact Buddha is not concerned with the supreme being and his writings do not tell us anything about the supreme being. Buddha’s own method of salvation did not concern the supreme being at all. Mohammad lived about 600 A.D., about 600 years after Jesus. Here is the record of Mohammad’s first revelation. According to Moslem tradition, one night in Ramadan, about the year 610, as he was asleep or in a trans, the angel Gabriel came to Mohammad and said, “Recite”. He replied, “What shall I recite?” The order was repeated three times until the angel himself said, “Recite in the name of your Lord the Creator who created man from clots of blood. Recite, your Lord is the most bounteous one, who by the pen has taught mankind things they do not know.” When he awoke, these words we are told, seem to be inscribed upon his heart. If you read the Koran, you read that Mohammad says, “The creator of the world is merciful and forgiving but he is also stern and righteous in his judgment and that he demands faith in his servant Mohammad.” But where did Mohammad get that information? Now do you see that that’s the place we’re left when we begin to look for information on the creator of our universe? You really come to a place where you’re stymied. Because all you face is Homer, the Buddhist scriptures, the Koran, the Mormon scriptures, all kinds of writings by men who are speaking only from their own personal subjective experience. In other words, it’s like asking a person, “What is the creator of the world like?” And he says, “Well, I think he is like this.” You can’t get hold of any hard evidence on him. You can’t get anybody who says, “Well, he did this and this and this and this and here it is, now you observe for yourself.” Somehow, we can’t get any information on the actions and words of our creator so that we can tell what He is like ourselves. All we do is, we face opinions of other men and women. The tragedy is they’re no different from ourselves. Mohammad was no different from the rest of us. He died like an ordinary man. He himself didn’t claim to perform any miracles at all. He didn’t claim to be in any unique way related to the creator of the universe. It’s the same with Buddha, the same with all the others like Zoroaster and Confucius. We’re facing only men’s personal opinions and ideas of what the Creator of the universe is like — until you come to this book. Full Talk: Is The Bible History or Myth by Ernest O’Neill
The Bible is a History Book - APOLOGETICS
THE BIBLE IS A HISTORY BOOK Video clip transcript extracted from the talk IS THE BIBLE HISTORY OR MYTH by Rev. Ernest O’Neill We’re facing only men’s personal opinions and ideas of what the Creator of the universe is like — until you come to this book. I cannot express sufficiently to you how absolutely unlike all the other books, this book is. The other books are subjective accounts of men’s mystical visions. This book is a book of facts about the activities of our creator over thousands and thousands of years. That’s the difference. I don’t know if you really see it if you haven’t studied closely ancient books. You’ll have a feeling, “Well, this is one like the others”. No, this is a history book. Mohammad’s Koran is the activities of himself during his lifetime and then of his own mystical visions. This book is almost a year-by-year, century-by-century commentary on the actual actions and words of the creator of the universe, which of course is really the only way for one to know a person. Turn if you would to, Genesis 6:13. That’s the kind of information you get. You don’t get an account of some man’s vision or some man’s opinion. You get an actual action. Genesis 6:13, And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Then there’s God saying in Genesis 6:17, “For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die.” So it’s not some little thing like, “See the stone in front of you. I’ll make it fall.” Who can ever check up on that? But these are events like, “I’ll destroy the whole earth with a flood”. We of course, keep tripping over the confirmation that that flood took place. Our whole fossil record, (which you know is living creatures and plants that seem to be frozen in the very middle of life), is how the whole evolutionary table is built up. The very fact of fossils reinforces that whole truth that at one time in our world there was a cataclysmic catastrophe that suddenly caught an animal in the midst of swallowing some grass and we actually can see the animal at that point. It’s the kind of thing that would happen in a flood and something that came suddenly. Everywhere we go in our universe, we see the sedimentary rocks. We see the layers of rocks that were affected by a great flood. So, the amazing thing about this book is, it tells us things that our creator did that actually we can confirm by a study of the world itself. It talks about Him leading a whole people out of Egypt through a wilderness for 40 years and then into Canaan. We see by checking up in the Egyptian records, yes they were there. There were slaves in Egypt. So, what you find with this book is, it’s an account over thousands and thousands of years of the creator acting consistently in different situations and in ways that we can confirm by studying other contemporary histories. It’s things like this man Jesus, who said, “I am going to be executed. Then I am going to go and be with my Father and then after three days I’ll come back.” That’s not the kind of thing you say if you want to bluff people because it’s too easy to show that he did not come back. Except, that all history says He did come back. And he lived for 30 or 40 days here on this earth, confirming that what he said about his Father is actually true. So loved ones, when you come to this book, you come to facts, historical facts that you can check up on and you can confirm and you can look at your Creator for yourself and see, “Oh, He’s said that to Adam. Ah, He said that to Moses. Oh, He said that to Abraham. Oh, He said that to Isaiah. Yes, I see. He keeps coming through the same way. Yes, He is that kind of God, not only He says but He does.” Full Talk: Is The Bible History or Myth by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
How Do You Know If The Facts In The Bible Occurred? - APOLOGETICS
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF THE FACTS IN THE BIBLE OCCURRED? Video Clip transcript extracted from the talk IS THE BIBLE HISTORY OR MYTH By: Rev. Ernest O’Neill This is just a different kind of book. It’s a book of facts, not a book of personal subjective visions. You may say, “Well, yes, but the facts that are in this book, how do you know that they’re the facts that actually occurred?” That is a problem. You can see that because these facts occurred thousands of years ago. You can see there was lots of time for all kinds of people to write up imaginary accounts of these facts, to make up their own stories of the facts, to mutilate the facts, to pervert them. Maybe they could take an ordinary man Moses and they could make him seem to be a great leader. You can see how easy it is to do that when you consider that the original accounts of the facts were written on manuscript material that was very destructible and so the manuscripts were destroyed every 50 or 60 years and they had to be recopied. So, you can see that it’s difficult to tell whether somebody made a mistake in the copying or whether somebody changed it when they copied it. And it’s the same of course with all ancient history. It’s really a great problem. Most of us know Plato’s “Republic”. Plato wrote his “Republic” in 400 B.C. But would you believe that the first manuscript we have of Plato’s “Republic” is 900 A.D.? There were 1300 years elapsed before we have a manuscript of Plato’s “Republic”. Now, obviously there were many manuscripts before then, but the only one that exists today in our world, (all the rest have been destroyed), the only one that exists is 900 A.D. It’s the same with most of the ancient history when you go to Cesar’s “Gallic Wars” or you go to Homer’s poetry. We believe Homer’s poetry was written in 900 B.C. The first manuscript and the only manuscript we have earlier than 1000 A.D. is one at 900 A.D. So it’s about 1800 years or 2000 years after Homer wrote the poetry that we have a manuscript of it. Do you know how many manuscripts we have of Homer’s poetry altogether? Two. Two manuscripts and yet we don’t question Homer’s poetry. But you can see why even the history department of our own university regards anything up to 200 years after the event as eyewitness accounts. You can see that, because ancient history is lamentable in its documentary support. Yet of course we don’t question it. If you want to look, there is a picture of some of the typical examples in our own literature today. You can see that Cesar’s “Gallic Wars” is 55 B.C. and there are only nine manuscripts. The first one is 900 years later than Cesar wrote his “Gallic Wars”. Then you see Levi’s “History” written in 20 B.C. We have only 20 manuscripts of it and the first one is 400 years after Levi wrote the history. Tacitus’s “History” was written in 100 A.D. We have only two manuscripts and the first one is 1000 years after Tacitus wrote the history. Tacitus’s “History” was written in 430 B.C. There are only eight manuscripts and the first one is 1300 years later. Plato’s “Republic” has four manuscripts. They are 1300 years after he wrote the book. Homer’s “Odyssey” was written in 900 B.C. and it has only two manuscripts. The oldest one was written 2000 years later. What about the Bible? Well, it’s just unbelievable. There it is, the “New Testament” was written from 40 to 100 A.D. We have 4000 manuscripts of it. We have 4000 different manuscripts and the unbelievable thing is, the earliest one was written 25 years after John’s Gospel was completed. But do you see there are 4000 different manuscripts? In other words, if somebody wanted to change the history of the New Testament, he had to have a very large family who could travel into all kinds of hidden, concealed caves in the deserts. These manuscripts were found in all kinds of places, right from the earliest days and he had to have all his poor sons laboriously change the history so that it all agreed. The difficulty is, when he died, he had to ensure that all his sons had children and grandchildren because these manuscripts continued to be found in all kinds of different places, written in different styles of writing at different ages from the year about 100 A.D. or 125 A.D. to about the year 1000 A.D. There are 4000 different manuscripts. Ones like the “Alexandrinus” and the “Sinaiticus” are in the British Museum. The “Alexandrinus” is a complete manuscript of the whole Bible and is 350 A.D. in age (according to Carbon 14 method which works within hundreds of year but not when you’re talking about millions of years). The style of the writing is also used to date them. The “Sinaiticus” is just opposite to it in the corridor of the British Museum. It’s 450 A.D. Nothing corresponds in other ancient history to this kind of documentation. The unbelievable thing is the manuscript that you can find in the museum in Manchester England. It is on its own completely. It’s a scrap of John’s Gospel which is exactly the same as the account of John 18:31-33 in the bigger manuscripts. It is dated by Carbon 14 and by style of writing at about 130-140 A.D. That is only about 30 or 40 years after John wrote the Gospel. You can see the importance of that. Here you have an actual piece of writing that some people looked at, which were actually contemporaries of the people who wrote the Bible. That’s the kind of manuscript evidence you have. Full Talk: Is The Bible History or Myth by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Was The Original Record Of The Bible True? - APOLOGETICS
WAS THE ORIGINAL RECORD OF THE BIBLE TRUE? Video transcript extracted from the talk IS THE BIBLE HISTORY OR MYTH By: Rev. Ernest O’Neill Well, you can see that one of the important ways of checking out if it is true is if you had people who were living while these people wrote the record. In other words, today is about 15 years after Kennedy’s assassination. I think if one of you decided, we’ll write a history of Kennedy’s assassination showing how LBJ actually killed Kennedy, then there are millions of us here who would say, “No, no. It didn’t happen that way”. Some of us saw it, some of us were there, and some of us know people who were there and we know that isn’t true. The book would immediately be looked upon as a fraud. Do you see that’s the same situation you had in the first century? The records of Jesus’ life were being circulated from a 40-100 A.D. During that time there were hundreds of people alive who had actually seen these events themselves. All they had to do was say, “No, Mark wrote all that? It isn’t true. It isn’t true”. In fact, you have the opposite situation. You have people like Papias, who was born in about 60 A.D. and he writes and tells us of his conversations with the old white-haired John. He tells what he discovered in those days. He said, “The elder John used to say, “Mark, having become Peter’s interpreter, wrote accurately all that he remembered”. Another man called Polycarp was born in 69 A.D. He also knew John personally also and yet lived well into the second century. Polycarp would describe his intercourse with John and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord, and how he would relate their words, and whatsoever things he had heard from them about the Lord and about His miracles and about His teaching. Polycarp, having received them from eyewitnesses of the life of the word, would relate it altogether in accordance with the scriptures. In other words, when John says, “Listen, we were eyewitnesses of these things, that’s why you can trust us”, you don’t have to just take his word. You can look up other history books of men that knew John and that indicate that he lived in the first century and that he observed the things that he observed. Of course loved ones the interesting thing is, you don’t even have to trust just the New Testament itself. You can go to people like Tacitus. He was the foremost historian of imperial Rome and here’s what he says, “The author of the name Christians was Christ, who in the reign of Tiberius, suffered punishment under his procurator Pontius Pilate.” Another man called Tertullian, who doesn’t appear in the Bible at all, was involved with the government in their archives and he said this, “Tiberius accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from Palestine of events which had clearly shown the truth of Christ’s divinity, brought the matter before the senate, with his own decision in favor of Christ. The senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected his approval. Caesar held his opinion, threatening wrath against all the accusers of the Christians.” A man like Josephus, who was a Jew, (and therefore really committed against Jesus, from the point of view of Christianity) writes, “There was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call Him a man, for He was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as to receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to Him many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ and when Pilate at the suggestion of the principle men amongst us, had condemned Him to the Cross, those that loved Him at the first, did not forsake him, for He appeared to them alive again on the third day”. And so, all that is written by the men who knew Jesus Himself in this book, is confirmed by hundreds of other histories that were written at the same time. And maybe the greatest reason for believing them is — did they grow rich? Did they grow prosperous and famous? Did they live to a ripe old age because of what they told about this man Jesus? No. If they had been content just to say He was a good teacher, that’s what would have happened. But they insisted on saying that He was the son of God. That’s the thing that brought them onto the crucifixion hills and into the lion’s arenas. Maybe the greatest argument for believing what these men said really happened, is that they suffered for what they talked about. They suffered. They did not gain from it. They suffered for it. Now, men will die for a thing that they think may be true, but nobody will die for what they know is a lie. Many of us used to say, “Well, maybe they imagined it. Maybe they made the story up”. Yes, but you won’t die for something you make up. You’ll only die for what you know is true. In other words, if you just allow your mind to work logically, it’s very difficult to get away from the fact that this is the most reliable history book of ancient times that we possess. When you read this book, you are reading actual historical records of what our Creator has done over 4000 years of our existence. That’s why loved ones, we believe that there is a God because we can see how He has dealt with us human beings over a period of 4000 years and we believe that He is the Father of Jesus Christ. Full Talk: IS THE BIBLE HISTORY OR MYTH? By Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Did Jesus Return from Death? - APOLOGETICS
IS JESUS THE SON OF THE CREATOR? Transcript of a clip taken from the talk, IS JESUS GOD’S SON? By Rev. Ernest O’Neill So the real issue is, looking at this man’s life, is he the Son of our Creator? Was he divine? The issue is not, is he “A son of God?” There are plenty of people like Jehovah’s Witnesses who will say, “We’re all sons of God and Jesus is a son of God.” But was this Jesus the unique Son of God, who knew the Creator before the world was created? Is Jesus the Son of our Maker? He talked with the authority of the Son of our Creator, that’s what they said. They said, “He teaches with authority, not like the scribes. He teaches as if he knows these things.” He made this the crucial question in his whole career. He did. He made this the central issue. He said, “Whom do men say that I am?” He didn’t go around about it. He said, “Whom do men say that I am”? And Peter said, “You’re the Son of the Blessed.” Then he said, “Blessed are you that flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but My Father, who is in heaven.” In fact, his contemporaries opposed him because he said he was the Son of God. That’s why they tried to kill him. They said, “He treats God as his own father and he makes himself equal with God.” That is so, loved ones. Jesus never avoided the whole claim that he was the unique Son of our Creator and he talked that way. That’s why they executed him. Did you realize that? They didn’t execute him because of his teachings. They were prepared to accept his teachings, but they executed him because he was God’s Son. And the amazing thing is that at the very point when he could have saved himself by denying that, he didn’t. Maybe you’d look at it in Mark 14:61. It’s during the trial before the high priest. Mark 14:61-65 “But he was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his mantle, and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?’ And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to strike him, saying to him, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards received him with blows.” That’s why I’d ask you to examine this man’s life and claims in the light of the other possibilities, besides the fact that he may be the Son of God. Just examine them. You know them because we’ve talked about them before. First of all, he was a liar. That’s the first possibility. He knew he was not God’s Son but in order to lend authority to his teaching, he pretended he was God’s Son. But could I point out to you what one skeptic in Britain said? This man called John Stuart Mill was a well-known economist and philosopher and he rejected Christianity utterly. Could I read you what he said? “Above all, the most valuable part of the effect on the character which Christianity has produced by holding up in a divine person a standard of excellence and a model for imitation, is available even to the absolute unbeliever and can never more be lost to humanity. For it is Christ, rather than God, whom Christianity has held up to believers as the pattern of perfection for humanity.” Men like John Stuart Mill believed there is one supreme moral teacher in the universe and that is Jesus of Nazareth. In other words, wherever you go among philosophers, they’ll all agree with this, “He is the supreme ethical teacher that our world has ever seen. His teachings are more sublime than any others and his life is more in conformity with his teaching.” Now, how could that be? How can we say that? If this man, on the most crucial point of his teaching, is a liar? How can you? How can you say that this man, whom the whole world regards as the foremost ethical teacher in our era, how can we say that this man who taught better than anybody else, who lived closer to what he taught than anybody else, on the central issue of his own identity, lied to us? Do you see it makes foolishness of our whole system of logic? It makes foolishness of us, ourselves. If this man was a liar, he can’t have been the great ethical teacher that everybody talks about. He either lied or he was a great ethical teacher.
Was Jesus a Legend? - APOLOGETICS
JESUS CHRIST – WAS HE A LUNATIC? Transcript of a clip from the talk Is Jesus God’s Son? by Rev. Ernest O’Neill Some people say, “Well, he was a lunatic. He was misguided. He simply thought he was God’s Son when he really wasn’t.” But do you see the problem about that? His life has none of the abnormality or imbalance that a lunatic’s life has. Indeed, most of us, except maybe some extreme skeptics, look to Jesus’ life as the balanced life. We look to His attitude to people in love and kindness and patience under pressure, as the ideal life that a human being should live. It isn’t the life of a lunatic. You remember what C.S. Lewis said, “No one has yet explained how such deep moral teaching could come from the mind of a megalomaniac.” I think that’s the difficulty you’re up against when you try to label Jesus a lunatic. None of the rest of his life expresses the imbalance or the chaos of a lunatic. It expresses the very opposite. It expresses sanity and the kind of integrated personality that all of us would like to experience.
Was Jesus a Lunatic? - APOLOGETICS
IS JESUS CHRIST ONLY A LEGEND? Transcript of a clip from the talk Is Jesus God’s Son? by Rev. Ernest O’Neill Maybe he was a legend. That is, maybe he wasn’t all that his followers said he was. Maybe he was an ordinary man who had some good qualities and then they added other bits on in order to make themselves the leader of some great religion. Do you see that a legend requires time to develop? Do you see that? Let’s say that Greg, with his new suit, dies and then we wait two, three or five years before somebody writes a book presenting him as the greatest Greek teacher that the world has ever known. Well, there are many of us here who would say, “No, he was good but he wasn’t that good!” And until we all died off, nobody could pass that kind of story on to the world. It requires time for a legend to develop. It requires time for all of the contemporaries to die who knew the man. Do you see that that time didn’t exist? It existed with Buddha. Buddha lived in 500 B.C. and the first time his writings were committed to paper or his sayings were committed to paper, was in 900 A.D., thousands of years later. But with Jesus, the letter to the Galatians was circulating in 48 A.D. That was just 19 years after Jesus died. There were many men, young men and women, 20, 25, 30, who were alive when Jesus was crucified, who were still alive when the New Testament accounts were circulating and they could simply say, “No, it didn’t happen like that. Sure he died, but He never rose from the dead. We were in Jerusalem at that time.” There was not time for a legend to develop because the historical accounts of Jesus’ life were circulating before all his contemporaries had died and they were known throughout the then known world. In other words, if Jesus was not a liar and was not a lunatic and was not a legend, then you’re left only with one possible conclusion: that he was what he said he was. Another reason we say that is that he didn’t only talk like the Son of God but he lived like the Son of God.