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Description: Do you Love your Brethren?
Do You Love Your Brethren?
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
There is still an important part that I didn’t expound properly in the last verse we spoke about. I
hope you’ll be patient with me. I’d like to share with you what I wakened up with this morning. It’s
the verse which says, “If my people who are called in my name humble themselves and pray and seek my
face; turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their
land.” [2 Chronicles 7:14] I was thinking what can we do in this wasteland which we find ourselves
in the present society.
This society which seems to have forgotten the bit of religion they did seem to be practicing in
many of the churches. What can we do in regard to revival? Obviously it gets kind of boring me
saying, apart from anything else, pray for revival; pray for revival. What can we do? This seems to
be the guideline with this verse of what we ourselves can do to enable God or to open the way or to
fulfill the conditions that God requires in order for him to bring an enlivening Spirit into our
That’s obviously what we need; we need a hunger in men’s and women’s hearts for God; a revelation; a
light of the purposeless life that we are now moving into. People are killing themselves because
there is no reason for living. People are bewildered not just the older ones who are coming to the
end of life but even the younger ones now are drugging themselves to death. So it’s a serious
situation and we badly, badly need the only one who can change the heart of the society — that is
He is saying to us if my people, you are my people, if my people who are called by my name humble
themselves and pray and seek my face, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal
their land. It behoves us to see in what way can I humble myself before God. What way can I seek his
face? What way can I pray? What way can I turn from my wicked ways so that he will answer me?
That’s what I started to do myself. It will tie up with the previous verse. I don’t have to look too
far; I think you all know how many excuses we can put up before us individually and one another. We
put up with it. I have all kind of things to do; I am doing business at this time; I’m doing
theology or religion at this time. You can only do so much for so many years. I have kept a place of
chaos. I’m sorry for the wife because she comes in to the office and my desk is continually strewn
with stuff; yes, I know where everything is. It seems to me that is not the best. I can see some
wicked ways I have been a long time turning from and I need to now turn from. I do think there are
things like that. There are practical things that are wicked ways. I’m just talking about myself.
You have to talk about yourself.
There are certainly ways which are wicked? Yeah, I suppose you don’t call them wicked but really I
think they are wicked as any other ways. They are not God’s best for us. It seems very important
that we turn from them and they are practical things. I thought of one that has occurred to me
several times over the years. It came to me when I realized I hadn’t expounded the second part of
that verse. [ Colossians 1:3 ] ” We always thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we
pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus.”
We dealt previously with ‘faith in Christ Jesus.’ That has sunk into a speculative, rational thing
as Wesley has said it isn’t. “Faith is not just a speculative, rational thing; a cold lifeless
assent; a train of ideas in the head.” We talked about how it has sunk into that.
Many people believe faith in Christ Jesus is believing Jesus died for your sins so yippee you are
free from your sins. They give assent to that intellectual concept. It is the famous substitutionary
three of the atonement which we have always defended strongly in evangelicalism as the heart of the
gospel. It isn’t the heart of the gospel at all. It’s often been an excuse for people to say I
believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. But of course it is not IN the Lord Jesus Christ; the Lord Jesus
Christ is not in me. I do believe in his death for me and I do believe he has saved me from my sins
and enabled me to get to heaven. He is not in me. No fear — it’s my life and I live it. Christ
lives in me? No, no I live.
Most Christians live in that concept. They don’t believe the Lord Jesus Christ is in them. They
don’t believe they are in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no connection between their belief and
their outward life. Indeed their outward life is not affected by Jesus. So therefore a lack of the
Lord Jesus Christ in their life. We talked about that last day.
No, no I don’t need deep insight, I just need to remember the dishes need to be in the dishwasher.
If I don’t put them in, someone else will put them in. It comes home very clearly to me — have I
love for all the saints? — Yeah, for everyone but the one who has to put the dishes in the
dishwasher. It becomes very personal here at home and lots of subtler ways than what I have
described. That’s an obvious one I can see.
I don’t want to canonize the girl here, Peg, but it can click in your mind, oh, Peggy can do that or
somebody else will do that. Love for all the saints takes on a real, practical meaning when we are
living together like this. I thought you almost have to say, “No, Jesus, you don’t have to pick
those up. [pounding on his chest] Leave them — somebody else will get them.” You have to pause for
a minute — is that what he is really thinking? — is that what he thinks? You dare not ask
yourself that question because you know he isn’t thinking that. It seems to me it gets down to that
kind of thing.
It’s the same thing as you and I saw in each other’s eyes last night when I had a go at this lady. I
may have misinterpreted this lady but I don’t think I did. I think you knew by the tone of voice, or
the wrong comment at the wrong time can break that bond. You and I know it pretty well when it
happened again last night. So I think it takes on very fine things; it takes on the obvious things
like not putting dishes in the right place or not cleaning the drip on the carpet when you see this
is my home and I should do that. That’s an obvious one.
I think there are many subtler ways, many of which you and I have solved between us that refer to
tone of voice, or when we speak facetiously to the other person, or, we speak a little too quickly
or, we assume an authority or right that is not ours. There are many things like that that concern
loving the saints. We are either by his love building one another up or making the day a little
heavier. Keil Delitzsch is wonderful with his Hebrew. This morning he was dealing with the words
that David’s enemies were using against him in a certain situation. He expounded the verses that
made it very clear to me of words being arrows going into another person which hurt them deeply. I
can see often my ‘arrows’ do that to you and you all bear it very kindly and graciously. I can see
how words can be arrows that dig into you. However used to them you may get, I’m trying to correct
you in a certain way and it turns out to be sarcastic — harsh, cutting and caustic way. There are
many things like that that concern our love for each other and the love of the saints.
I can see how Jesus within us — that’s always the question — why Lord don’t you bring revival?
Because you won’t turn from your wicked ways. You still have a tone of voice or an attitude towards
another person that is not love. It is not love of the saints. You are still crucifying my Son
within you or destroying or repressing/suppressing him. The promise is very real here. “If my people
who are called in my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face; turn from their wicked ways;
then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.” It seems to me that’s the
answer to the questions, “What can we do to open the way for God to bring revival?” Obviously it
will indeed start in our own hearts as we would abide by these verses. Because it seems to me you or
I or whoever it is, as you start taking this as your home, not just the home that somebody else
looks after for us. God will touch us and will affect us.
There are lots of little ways. I’ll say this one if I may because I think Marty was going to do it
anyway. I’ll say, “Brother, it would be good to light those ornamental deer up from the deck. It
will give Peggy a lift.” It expressed the love that we have for one another. She put them out
there to look at and nobody has done much with them. Where as if somebody lights them and somebody
feels it was worth my while doing it. That’s part of it. As we do these little things that seem so
little but little things that occur to us. Mind you, sometimes we can get so used to living in our
own world and not regarding that as love that it doesn’t even occur to us to do it. There is that
We need to pray for light for our blindness because often we don’t see these things. Often we do
see them; they do cross our minds but we step gently back from them. We step back from loving all
the saints, particularly the ones we live with.
It comes down to either I can be softening the atmosphere so that it is easier to perceive Christ or
I can be hardening the atmosphere. That’s where light comes in. Often I would say to Colleen I know
you have a way of speaking but the truth even if it is an unconscious way of speaking; even if my
funny remark is used to correct you, it can still cut the atmosphere like a knife. It can still
harden the atmosphere.
It’s interesting; even in a sense, it doesn’t have to be a conscious sin or a determination to do
what you know is wrong. It can be an unknowing doing of wrong. It still brings a hardness and an
insensitivity to the atmosphere. That’s why God says, “Blessed are they that thirst and hunger after
righteousness.” [ Matthew 5:6 ] They that want to know more; that want to understand more so they
can be like Jesus. That’s part of the love for all the saints too. Not just the avoidance of
hurting a person but how more can I build them up. How can I do something beautiful or something
that will lighten their life or lighten their heart.
I think that is all part of, you might almost say, a Spirit of revival occurs any time someone turns
from a hardness that is not of God. In a sense, every time someone turns from a hardness that is not
of God. Every time someone turns towards the soft, gentle heart of Jesus himself or herself, every
time comes in a freshness of the water of life that is part of the beginning of revival. A revival
means ‘re’ [again] and ‘viv’ [life]; life coming again. Life comes again where there was a deadness.
I think it is important that we see a sense we are living ourselves in a Spirit of revival and in
the aliveness and sensitivity of revival or we are living in deadness. That’s the way we can
facilitate the overall revival that is needed in our society. So I thought those were some things
worth mentioning to you and particularly to myself.
Are there ways, Lord, where I can love all the saints more than I am doing? Of course living
together like this there are a thousand, thousand ways in which we can love each other anew and
afresh. Love is always creative and always a beautiful thing. I think you are aware as much as I am
that we are very privileged to be able to talk about these things together. I do not know how many
husbands and wives talk about these things. I do not know how many families talk about them. I have
a suspicion that in these days very few do. We are very privileged to be in the position we are in
that we are still alive and still aware and conscious of these things. We can still listen to each
other as we talk about them and encourage each other in our most holy faith. It’s a great privilege
we have. Let us pray.
Dear Father, we thank you for calling us to such a practical life with so many obvious opportunities
to express your heart or to see the hardness and the coarseness of our own hearts. Lord, we thank
you for what we would have avoided at all costs. We would avoid living in a fish bowl. We hate the
idea of somebody seeing what we are, not only our beauties but our ugliness.
We see, Lord, is it a great privilege that you have given us so that we do not have to wait for a
great judgement day in order to see ourselves as we really are. You allow us to do that not simply
through other people telling us but through us seeing your beauty in each other. We see in each
other attitudes we suddenly realize we don’t have; seeing in each other things that are attractive
and remind us of you and things we know you want us to have.
Lord, we thank you for the saints you have given us to live with. We thank you for all the blessings
that come through their lives. We thank you, Lord Jesus, that there is only one source that they
come from and that is you. There is none good but God and no one pure and true but you. You have
given us the opportunity to carry you around and to allow you to live and express yourself to our
faces, hands and voices. Lord, we thank you.
Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with
each one of us today, tomorrow and evermore. Amen.