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Description: A Life Worthy of the Lord
A Life Worthy of the Lord
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
It is just a massive verse really. Colossians 1:10. And of course it is Paul’s prayer and it starts
on verse 9. “And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that
you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to lead
a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in
the knowledge of God.” It is just such a mouthful that I just thought you have to take that very
slowly, because, of course, the whole heart of it is, it is Jesus in you and in me. That is what he
is talking about. He is talking about Jesus in you and Jesus in me. And he is talking about the
kind of life that that will bring about. And so the verse 10 is overwhelming, “To lead a life
worthy of the Lord.” I mean to live a life ‘worthy’ of the Lord! And when you think about it a
little, it just causes you to stagger, “Who could live a life worthy of the Lord? Worthy of Jesus,
who could live a life that is worthy of him?
You talk about having something that is worthy of another person or another thing. And it means, of
course, that it sets forth them. That is what it means. A life worthy of somebody else is a life
that sets them forth. It’s like having them there in person. That is the only way you can live a
life worthy of him. And we always think of it that way. If you do anything worthy of someone else
you think, “Oh! How could I ever live up there?” And that is what this verse is saying, that we
would live a life that is worthy of the Lord. A life that the Lord, himself would not be ashamed
of. [Speaks with emotion] It is beyond words, a life that he would be proud of, a life that he would
be glad to own as his own.
So you just think – well to tell you the truth it is overwhelming unless you just do away with it,
and think, “That is a mistake. How can anybody live a life worthy of the Lord? It is impossible.”
And yet here he is saying it. He is praying that you may lead a life worthy of the Lord. And so I
just thought, Oh, it is just so bewildering. (And of course I couldn’t find the white board. I
suppose someone has carefully packed it up.) Of course I had to resort to this as every teacher
does. They write on anything you give them, cigarette papers if that is all that he has. I
thought, those [Col. 1:9 & 10 hand written on a large stiff card everyone can see] are what he is
saying. It is overwhelming but those are what he is saying. He is saying, “From the day we heard
of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his
will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to lead a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing to him,
fully pleasing to him.” I mean, [does he really mean that?] “Bearing fruit in every good work and
increasing in the knowledge of God.”
To tell you the truth, after I wrote it earlier this morning, I thought, “It is just… It is a
different kind of life.” The best I could do was put a square around that [indicates his writing
and reads what he has written], “To lead a life worthy of the Lord.” But then it came to me very
clearly, this [indicating the written words] is a Christ-centered life. What you are looking at
here is the description of a “God centered life.” That is what it is. It is not an Irene centered
life, or a Peggy centered life or an Ernest centered life, or a Marty centered life, or a Myron
centered life, or a Marty centered life [2 different Marty’s in the group]. It is a God centered
life. I mean it is a life that is lived outside itself. It is a life that is centered on God and
what he wants. It is centered on Jesus and what he wants. It is just a different kind of life.
It is in no way describing a Christian life that is trying to succeed or the life of a ‘good
Christian’. This is a different life entirely. It is just not any way a humanity centered life or
a self centered life. This is a God centered life, one that is filled with the knowledge of his
And we talked about that. His will is what he has already done, what he has already done. It fits
in with so many of the verses, “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works
which he has ‘prepared beforehand’ that we should walk in them.” [Ephesians 2:10] And of course it
is the whole truth that God saw what has happened to the world, knew that this had happened to it,
recreated it completely and has planned that recreation to be worked out in our lives. So that he
already has done all the work. The work is there. It is a work that we simply walk in. It is a
work ‘prepared beforehand’ that we walk in. He saw a thousand million billion years ago; he saw the
difficulties that you will face next week. He saw this person that would say something outside his
will to you and that would bite deeply into your own heart and feelings. He saw that and he bore it
in his own Son on Calvary on the cross and the death died from before the beginning of the world.
And he cured that and pored in his own soothing softness and reassurance and comfort.
So that it is a work that is prepared beforehand for you to walk in. All you have to do is walk in
it. You don’t have to produce the soothing and take care of yourself. He will bring that to you.
He has already done that work. And so you are filled with the knowledge of his will. You know,
“Ah! This is his will in this situation, and this is the way through on this. And this is what he
wants me to do in the light of that.”
And so in the light of the cancer that is eating away at you, you know God has already born that in
himself. And he has a right attitude for me to take to this at this moment. Or, if he has arranged
for a surgeon to go in and cut it open and cure you, then you will know that, too. And you will be
content with that. But you will meet a work that he has already prepared beforehand. You will not
meet an event or an accident that has happened by chance that is a surprise to everybody. You will
meet a work prepared beforehand. And that is what it means, “To be filled with the knowledge of his
will.” To have that quiet confidence as things happen to you, “Ah, this is the will of God for me
in Christ Jesus. I can give thanks in all things, ‘for this is his will for me in Christ Jesus,’
and he has already dealt with this issue and has already solved it. And he has something for me to
do. I don’t actually need to solve it. I just need to do what he tells me to do.”
That is what Peter said, “I don’t need to heal this man. I simply need to put out my hand and touch
his body. God has done the healing in his Son.”
So that is part of what it means to be filled with the knowledge of his will. And that is the
basis, of course, of the whole life. You are filled with the knowledge of his will. You are not
ducking accident after accident, uncertainty after uncertainty, disaster after disaster, unpleasant
person after unpleasant person, obnoxious conversation after obnoxious conversation. You are
meeting a way that has already been dealt with by God in Calvary from the beginning of the world.
Why? Because God sees the whole thing in a second. He doesn’t need to make the whole thing and then
watch, “Oh-oh! I wonder what will happen? I wonder what will happen? Will that guy hit…? No – Oh,
oh! No he won’t hit that brick wall.” The Father sees it all in second, in a mille-second. He sees
it all in a moment. And he knows it all, and he has dealt with it all from before the beginning of
the world when Christ was crucified, and that is all settled for each one of us.
So we come with a bundle of so-called ‘difficulties’ the world calls them. We come with a bundle of
events that God has already dealt with himself. And he will tell you what you need to do in it.
And that is why often you, yourself know that most of your ‘big disasters’ are solved by somebody
else. Most of your big moments of crisis are solved some other way than – it is rarely that you
are, what you do, seemed to make a difference to them. Often the thing is solved either by the
timing or by someone else’s attitude or the thing not happening the way you thought it was going to
happen. Because, in fact, God has dealt with all those things, filtered them through his loving
hands. And that is why it is so wise to take seriously that you are “created in Christ Jesus for
good works which HE HAS PREPARED BEFOREHAND THAT YOU SHOULD …Do them?” No, that you should ‘walk’
in them. All you have to do is ‘walk’ in them.
And so, “filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom.” The kind of thing I’ve
shared with you a little, a poor sharing of some of the spiritual wisdom that is needed. An
understanding, the understanding comes in because the wisdom is the revelation of the Spirit, the
insight that the Spirit gives you into it, and reminds you that all that has already been dealt with
by God. Understanding is the ability of the mind to apply that to what you have to do, “Oh, I see,
Lord! So you’ve solved this. You have already done it, but what do you want me to do?”
“Oh, just keep quiet.”
“OK, I’ll just keep quiet.”
“No, no, I want you to lift down that book.”
“OK.” And you do it.
“And understanding.” “To lead a life…” And only in that way can you lead a life worthy of the
Lord, because this is all the Lord Jesus’ work anyway that he has done from before the foundation of
the world. And so a life worthy of the Lord can only be lived in the light of what he himself has
done. And that means ‘living a life worthy of the Lord. This is a kind of life that is worthy of
the Lord. It is a life that is steady and settled and at peace and content whatever the situation,
because Jesus has already dealt with it all in the “Lamb slain before the foundation of the world,”
when the world was crucified in Christ and was actually made new.
And that is why to me it is quite exciting when they talk about Pluto because somehow it is in a
physical form that the astrophysicists understand even. In physical form it’s obvious: this
universe is massive, absolutely massive. And Pluto already looks as if it might have some of the
weather that possibly could support our lives, maybe it won’t at all, but it is remarkable in how
many ways it is like the earth. 385 days it takes to go around instead of 365. But it is close to
it. And it brings home to you how God has filled the whole place with all kinds of planets, all
kinds of climates, all kinds of things that we don’t know about at all. And certainly he has lots
more for us to do if he has made such a big place. It just doesn’t make sense to keep us huddled on
this little planet here.
But it all makes it more possible in my mind that, “Yes, of course this is it.” One has to look at
the thing from the view of — I hesitate to say even ‘eternity’, because we have the idea ‘eternity’
all goes on for ever and ever.
Eternity is ‘above time.’ That’s it; it is above time. It’s the life above — it’s real life. The
life of eternity is real life. And we often think, “Oh, you will get eternal life, that is, you
will live forever.” But we’re in the midst of eternal life. It is life now, and eternity is a
‘forever present’. So it is a ‘life worthy of the Lord’ in ‘that’ world.
‘Fully pleasing to him’: how else could it be fully pleasing to him? How could you live a life
fully pleasing to God, unless it is Christ, himself in you? That is the only way that you can live
a life that is fully pleasing to him. But it does bring home — I think it brings home to you, “Now
wait a minute, is that the way I think of my life? When I get up in the morning, [pause] ‘Ernest
O’Neill!’ ‘Marty Poehler!’ ‘Peggy Coleman!'” Full of ourselves! So, almost irrelevant! But we
are full of irrelevance. That’s it. We are full of our little selves and looking at our little
selves as little animals here on earth trying to forge our own way. And of course, it is not so.
We are a carrier of the incarnate Son of God. We are a body in whom Christ lives. This is Christ’s
life and his day. And he has things that he wants to do today. And I get the fun and the
satisfaction and the enjoyment and the fulfillment of doing them with him. And that is a life that
begins to be pleasing to him. His own life! That is really what it is. It is giving his own life
to him. It is acknowledging that. It is living in that reality and not living in the unreality
that you are this little person with your name on it that is trying to make its own way through the
world. It is him alive in you; ‘uniquely’ alive, you are right, in you. You are the only version
of him that exists. So you are unique in that way, but you are him. “It is not I that live, but
Christ that lives within me.” And that is the only way to live a life pleasing.
And then, “bearing fruit in every good work,” and I take it that the fruit is the benefits that come
from God in you, and the good things that come to other people’s lives and the beauty of Jesus that
comes through you, because the fruit of the Spirit is also by love, joy, peace, long suffering,
gentleness, faith, meekness and temperance. These are the fruits of the Spirit. And those are what
are borne as Jesus walks around in you. He bears longsuffering and gentleness and goodness. He
expresses faith and meekness and temperance.
And, “Increasing,” then, growing all the time, “in the knowledge of God.” That is the purpose of it
all. This life is so that we will know God, so that we will know him, and know what he is like and
be at home with him and be used to him and really, reflect him back to himself.
“Increasing in the knowledge of God:” understanding God better, but “increasing in the knowledge of
God,” also in the ‘friendship’, the personal oneness with him, because that is the magic of it. I
mean that is the miracle that you can know and have been made to know God, because he wants ‘you’ to
know him. And he wants to know himself in ‘you’. And that is why you have been made. So you are
different from everybody else in the universe. And God would miss you if you weren’t here. You are
vital to him, and he enjoys knowing you and looks forward to knowing you thoroughly and looks
forward to you knowing him thoroughly.
So that knowledge is important. It is not just a knowledge of God: “Oh well, I know the way he
operates. I know the way he thinks.” No, no! I ‘know’ him. “This is eternal life, to know Jesus,
to know God, and him whom he has sent, even Jesus Christ.” That is eternal life, to know God. It is
the ‘knowing’ that you are made for. It’s not just the understanding or that you are of use to him.
He doesn’t need you. He doesn’t need me. He wants you to be part of himself. He made you to be
part of himself. He made you because, “He yearns for the creature his hands have made.” [Job 14:15]
So when he makes you, he doesn’t make you as, “Oh here is a funny little thing, and here is a funny
little thing that will be able to do this kind of thing.” Not at all! He makes you in his own Son
so that you will be dear to him, and a precious part of him.
So this is in every way a supernatural life. And it can only come about if you let Christ have his
central place in your life, and you exit out, get out of it and allow him to be himself; in all his
beauty, because his beauty is way beyond our beauty, and way beyond what we can be.
But it is a wonderful life.
Shall we pray?
Dear Father, we thank you for your will for us, so beautiful and filled with grace. We see, Lord,
that it is far beyond what we would produce with our little imitations. And so, Father, we would
give up the imitating and the trying hard.
And Lord Jesus, we would thank you for how long you’ve been willing to stand in the shadows as we do
all our ‘great’ things. We would welcome you Lord, into the center of our lives.
And Father, we would begin the life that is worth living, the life that is an expression of you each
moment, a life in which we discover more of you and are lifted and exalted by what we see of you
through our own actions and words and thoughts.
So Lord, we would give ourselves to you so that you can live your life, a life that is fully
pleasing to you, that is filled with the knowledge of your Father’s will, a life that has all your
own beauty in it, a life that is prompted by your desires and your wishes, a life that expresses you
in all your fullness.
Lord we thank you that you have called us to a life that we cannot live ourselves but only you can
live through us. So we would give ourselves to you for that purpose.
Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with each one of us now and evermore. Amen.
And now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be
with each one of us, now and evermore. Amen.