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Description: Called to be Apostles
Called to be Apostles
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Would you turn to Ephesians loved ones? It’s Ephesians 4:11, and we’ll probably just get the first
clause done there. Ephesians 4:11, “And his gifts were that some should be apostles,” it says “tous
apostolous.” It’s he gave gifts, he gave the apostles, but the way it is written “tous” is the
article. It is it is more rightly translated: “he gives some to be apostles.” That’s the way it’s
translated in the King James Bible. He gave some to be apostles, but his gifts were as “Some should
be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers.” Of course the meaning is
that Jesus when he returned to heaven then continued to govern.
That when we’re children but we always ate our eggs, our boiled eggs with the apostle spoons, and
they were little spoons, with the apostles on them. They refer to 12 apostles. What Christ did
when he ascended was he called another apostle and, of course, Paul says, “I am the least of the
apostles that I persecute in the Church of Christ.” He regards himself as an apostle because the
two marks of the apostle were 1) that they had seen Christ alive, and 2) that they had people who
had received Christ through their preaching and their ministry.
So of course Paul called himself an apostle and really to all of us he’s really the primary apostle
even beyond Peter as far as doctrine and theology is concerned. So the apostles were the people
that Christ gave to us that we would have no doubt of who he was. We all know that the problem in
today’s world is they have no idea of who Jesus is, and they think he’s a preacher who is the Son of
God, but in no way do they know the things that the apostles said about him.
I mean John’s gospel opens with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. [John
1:1] Where was God? “All things were made through him.” That is the Word. “And without him was
not anything made that was made.” [John 1:2-3] John said, “Jesus was not just that figure that you
saw in Galilee. We were made by him and he existed there long before he appeared in Galilee. Of
course Paul said the same thing to the Colossians. That Jesus was the first born of all creation,
and in him all things were created and all things hold together in him. [Colossians 1: 15-17] And
so he made it very clear that we were all put together inside Christ and we hold together because we
are inside Christ.
Of course you all know, the ordinary person has no idea of it at all, and that’s what makes it so
ridiculous. It’s just so terrible now just because we know his name, Christ, as a swear word, but
you’re talking of the person in whom you were created. You were talking about the person who holds
When you take his name upon your lips, and of course, dear hearts have no idea of that at all. And
so the apostles, of course, made this clear. You can see how it has to as the year has gone by. So
that everybody thinks, and we ourselves know, thought Jesus is primarily God’s Son who came to
earth, then left it. He’s an example to us all of what we should be and we were created inside this
person. We are in him. Nobody knows that — no one has any idea that they are inside Christ —
they have no notion of what we mean when we say he bears our sins.
They went to the business of the lamb sacrifice that whole thing, and they have no idea that every
word they speak shatters Christ, every word they speak echoes through his being. He knows and feels
everything they do and think, but the apostles were given by Jesus to the world so that we would
know that. If they hadn’t taught it so plainly you wouldn’t actually know it for certain by Jesus’
You just know what you saw of his life and you know his death, and his resurrection, but you
wouldn’t really understand how God made us inside his own Son. We would have no idea of that, and
that’s why Christ gave the apostles, because there was work still to be done. He had to still make
it plain, who he was, and what actually happened. He gave therefore the apostles. That’s what has
happened with all of us.
And I think that’s why I asked us to assume ‘all things bright and beautiful, all the creatures
great and small, he made the tiny flower, he made them every one.’ [Hymn by Cecil Frances Alexander]
He made their tiny wings because it’s very important for us to see that each of us we’re given by
Christ in the same way as the apostles, and the prophets, and the teachers. It is important for
you to dwell upon that because it’s not only in the Catholic Church that there was a strong
distinction between the laity and the clergy, but that also has carried on through all apostles in
Then, of course, he gave even to people like ourselves, it kind of trickles down. You think well,
yeah, I’m really important because I’m a pastor and all that sort of thing, but you’re just a
member. And so we have this dreadful lie built into us that we weren’t given by Christ the same way
as Pope John Paul was. However, if you think about it that’s what it means. That Christ made every
flower and the wing of every dragonfly, and he certainly knew what he was about when he made each
one of us. We are what he has given to his own body here on earth, and each one of us is given just
as an apostle is given.
We have been given and it comes out in all kinds of verses. Let’s look at Jeremiah and that chapter
1, it really is quit startling. Of course however it’s a verse that we have studied similar truth
that we studied in the Psalms 139 I think it is. But Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb
I knew you,” see before I formed Jeremiah in the womb I knew you, “And before you were born I
consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
That’s the way Christ gave the prophet Jeremiah to his body here on earth, that’s the way Christ has
given you to his body here on earth. Before he formed you in the womb he knew you, and before you
were born he consecrated you. Now we know we have no difficulty with that, but we have an easier
time with it because we realize it. Yes, of course, obviously God doesn’t think sequentially as we
do that the souls speak in time. He thinks a millisecond and it’s all done, and he sees the whole
end from the beginning, all in one second. So obviously, yes of course he knew you before he then
proceeded to form in your mother’s womb.
But it’s good to remember that that God has given us to his body and he had in mind something
specific for each of us, and I think you know that this is not just the pastor trying to make you
feel you’re worth something. There’s no time for us to play games now in that kind of way. This
is stark plain truth, that God planned everything from the beginning and he knew what you would be
like, and he knew who your mum would be, and he gave you to his body with a certain task in mind
that Christ could perform through you and only you.
It’s really important for it to cross that. It’s really important for you to step out of this
attitude, such as, I mean that’s a nice thought what you’ve said, and I’m sure it would be true if I
had a great voice or, I’m sure it would be true if I wrote wonderful books. Loved ones that’s the
truth that each one of us here has been given by Christ to do something or let him do something
through us that nobody else can do.
You have attitudes and qualities that he cannot find in anybody else, and that’s why we’re here. Of
course it takes away all that dreadful searching that we do. Wondering, well what should I be doing
or am I doing enough, or am I doing what God wants me to do, or how can I do better than God wants
me to do. It’s important to see that this verse is saying, “That is already planned by Christ, not
only his dying, not only his doing miracles but he planned the follow up if you like, or the
outworking of that in the world he planned. What is happening now would happen, and you are part of
that, and he has planned next week.
What came home to me is the illustration I’ve used before, sometimes I tell it to myself because I
need it so badly. It’s the one about the man driving the horse and cart along the country, and then
he comes upon an old man with a great pile of firewood on his back and he says, “Would you like a
ride?” And the old man thanks him and gets onto the cart beside him and they start moving, and the
driver looks around and the old man is still sitting there with the firewood on his back. And the
driver says, “Why don’t you set the firewood down on the cart?”
And the old man says, “Oh no it’s good of you and your horse to carry me, I wouldn’t ask you to
carry my firewood as well.” How much of it has been done — it’s all been done. Christ has done it
all, it’s all done, it’s done. We really just have to sit on the cart, relax, and do the things
that he’s given us to do. But especially we guys like him to see how well we’re holding this
firewood on our back. How well we’re doing it, don’t we look good holding this firewood? Or I am
carrying it very efficiently, or how could I carry this firewood better than I’m doing? How could I
carry more firewood?
No doubt we’re all, not only the guys, the ladies too, we won’t rest, we won’t rest. We want to do,
and we want to do it as well as we can. Well, that’s alright but you only sit so — you can’t sit
better than you’re sitting. It seems that that’s what Christ is looking down at us saying, “Today,
I’ve put you where you are just to give thanks for that. Be glad that I’ve made you the way you
are, and that I’ve given you things to do that only you can do. There are little ones throughout
the world who will see parts of me because of things that you have done in your website and because
of things you’ve written in the newsletter, little things you’ve said in stores as you’ve visited.
There are people that will see some of my beauty and some of my glory, because I’m in you. Now just
enjoy this and relax and let me have the glory. My ‘horse’ will carry us along. I will carry you
along, all you have to do it sit there and put your firewood down. Commit your way onto the Lord
and he will act.”
I think that’s what God has given us. Christ gave some to be apostles, he gave you to be what you
are, and me to be what I am, and he wants us to enjoy it, and to rest, and to live in the peace of
that. I’ll bet you people will see you riding along on the cart and will see the peace in the rest.
Let us pray.
Dear Lord, we see how active we are, how anxious to serve you well, how eager we are to do the thing
well even perhaps to have others see how well we do it, and we see Lord, it’s all foolishness. You
are so kind to us, you give us work to do so that we’ll have exercise and be healthy, and so that
we’ll be responsible before you, but we see Lord that you have done all the work. It is you that
carries us, not us that carry you, and you want us to relax and rest, and to accept that you have
put us here to do something that we are doing and you’re satisfied with that.
You will bring your glory about through that, and our only place is to be at rest and relax deep in
our hearts and our spirits so that all this strain drains away from our muscles and all the frowns
go from our faces and all the wrinkles from our foreheads, and they live in the second rest that has
been reserved for the people of God. Lord, we do thank you, we will pray for each other these days
and you through your Holy Spirit may bring us each one into that deep peace and rest.
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.