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Description: Faith in God’s Unconditional Love
Faith in God’s Unconditional Love
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The verse that we are studying is Colossians 1:4, “Because we have heard of your faith in Christ
Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints.” I hope to try to explain a little about the
love for all the saints. But you remember last Sunday we talked about first part of the verse “faith
in Christ Jesus.”
Faith is often what Wesley said it isn’t, “Faith is not just a speculative, rational thing; a cold
lifeless assent; a train of ideas in the head but a disposition of the heart.” I think many people
reading these Bible verses about how he was glad and giving thanks for the faith they had in Christ.
We know what that is — believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that he has died for our sins
and because of that we are forgiven. That is regarded as the gospel in these days still. The
statement of the facts that Jesus did, therefore God has done that for our sins and we are forgiven.
So we can go on now and live the best we can for him.
But of course faith in Christ is much more than that. You and I have spent much time in that the
reality is each one of us here are God’s workmanship [Ephesians 2:20]. The world of Christendom
doesn’t know anything about this next piece. They really don’t. “We are God’s workmanship created in
Christ Jesus.” They do not believe that. No! You mean Hitler was created in Christ Jesus! That’s
what they say all in their little religious clubs interpret it plainly. Those people who say they
know where they are going; the people who are going to church; the people who are Christians. They
are the ones created in Christ Jesus. That’s how they have become a new creation. Of course that is
the second creation that is the new creation. Those who are truly in love with Jesus they are
created in him as a new creation.
This verse is saying what John 1 is saying. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and
without him was not anything made that was made.” All things were made in him including Hitler;
including all the bad people; everybody was made in the beginning in him. The ‘in him’ and the
‘Word’ in John 1 was obviously Christ. Of course Colossians says it again later on that all things
were made in Christ. Of course the world doesn’t believe that. We say we have faith in Christ but it
isn’t faith that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus. It’s not that. It’s faith that we
will be saved if we will believe that Jesus died for us.
Of course the faith that is real is the faith that we are in Christ Jesus. There is a closer
relationship between me and Marty if I am made in him; as opposed to me believing that he exists.
There is a great deal of difference in the two. One is a mental concept and the other is an all
consuming sense that I am part of him. Of course that is what faith in Christ is. It’s faith that we
have been created in Christ.
Of course the sequence of that is everything we do is done in Christ. We are all very glad of that
if you think of all the good things we’ve done. Oh, I’m glad it’s because of Christ that I am able
to love people. It’s because of Christ that I do things for other people. But what about the bad
things we’ve done. Were they done in Christ? That’s part of it. Faith in Christ is that we were
created in Christ; we were made inside him and our whole life has been lived in him. The things that
we do we do in him. The things we do to other people are done in him. They don’t only bear them but
he bears them too. Faith in Christ is that all our lives are in Jesus.
It makes for a very different attitude to him when you sense that. You realize I don’t live like
that. I don’t live as if when Jesus put this book down, I put it down. Or when I put the book down,
Jesus puts it down. That isn’t so. I don’t live in the sense that whatever I say I force him to
say. That isn’t true. So, faith in Christ means you begin to realize, wait a minute, I’m part of
Christ. Well, I don’t have the attitude that he has. I don’t feel like him about God. It begins to
come in upon us that your attitude is not his attitude at all. His attitude was that his Father had
made the world and his Father ruled everything. His Father loved him. You don’t have that attitude.
It begins to dawn on the person, yeah; I don’t believe God has anything to do with my life.
So slowly it creeps up on a person, in various ways, sometimes suddenly as on the road to Damascus,
but sometimes very gradually a person realizes I don’t have any relationship with God who made this
world. They begin to be concerned about that and begin to find out more about this God. They begin
to realize they live their life as their own life not as something directed by him and something
planned by him. They live their own life and they do whatever they want. Gradually there becomes an
awareness in them that they are not living in reality. They are not living as God wants them to.
They have a sense that they do what they want to do not what God wants them to do.
Gradually the faith in Christ begins to develop in a person. They sense that God is not their God
and they have little to do with him. There begins to come into their minds a sense they need to do
something about that. They need to begin to get to know this God and to get to know his Son.
Gradually they start to move toward God. He begins to work in their hearts and bring to them a sense
that the only way this can work is allowing Christ to have his way in their lives. That’s the moment
when they face, either an altar or quietly at night at home, they face the issue will I let this
Christ have anything to do with my life. Will I let him live in me? If he is in me, will I let him
live in me and I live in him? They start to deal with Jesus and then God begins to work with them.
Eventually sending the Spirit of his Son into their hearts so there comes a time when they at last
say yes, I will let you do what you want with my life.
We often found when helping a person at the altar that people do an awful lot of crying. Then you
would realize they were crying because they wouldn’t let go of their own life. They wouldn’t let go
of their own will. The crying often came to an end when they at last bowed the will and allowed
Jesus to come in.
Sometimes you would have a situation where you might say to a person, “Well has Christ come into
your heart.” They would say no I don’t sense that. Then they would pray further and God would reveal
something of the will that they were not ready to bow to Jesus and then they would bow to it saying
yes he’s come in. It is that element of will that is the heart of having faith in Christ. If that
will isn’t there you can call it faith in Christ but it isn’t total trust of Christ and total
obedience to him. So there is a sense where God tries to send the Spirit of his Son into a person’s
heart but there is no room because the spirit is set, obstinate and stubborn in the will. Until the
will bows the spirit cannot be touched by the Holy Spirit.
There is a real change comes in the new birth when a person bows the will to Christ and allows him
to live the life he had planned to live for him in the world. That’s the moment of the new birth.
The moment when you know the forgiveness of your sins, you don’t just believe them. When that comes
God sends the Spirit of the Son into your heart and the Holy Spirit sheds the love of God in your
heart. That love there is the love he has for other people. It is the love that is supernatural
because it comes from God’s Spirit into you and through other people. It is the love for all the
saints Paul is talking about here in Colossians. “I thank God for your faith in Christ and your love
for all the saints.”
The love flows out of the faith. If the faith is a real total faith involving the will and the
Spirit of Christ coming into you and you giving your own life and will over to Christ, then the Holy
Spirit is ruling in your heart. That begets in you; the Holy Spirit sheds abroad in your heart the
love of God and the love of other people. You can see that faith in Christ and love of one another
are joined together. The one comes out of the other.
Where you have a purely mental, speculative, rational thing there is no real interaction with the
Spirit of Christ within and no real dealing with the will. This kind of faith is part of why so much
Christianity is shot through with so much antinomianism. Antinomianism is believing in God but
acting against him; mainly doing whatever you wanted. ‘Anti’ and ‘nomos’ means ‘against the law.’
It is believing whatever you do, God will cover it up with the blood of Christ so carry on doing
your best but you can’t avoid sinning at times. That kind of sinning Christianity can’t produce any
kind of love.
That’s where you get philanthropy planted on top. Not that all philanthropy is bad. What you end up
with is not real Christian and spiritual love but a kind of philanthropic attitude or sense of
obligation towards other people. Often you get two levels in Christianity, mental belief in Christ
as Savior and then this do as much good as you can. Much of the good works is done on that level
almost on the level of philanthropy. ‘Philo’ and ‘anthropy’ means love of man rather than the love
of God. It’s not a creative spiritual ministry; it’s rather something that in a way holds back the
power of evil in the world. It’s part of the preserving grace of God.
Where you have a real ‘New Birth’ and people who have a sense of Christ within them and allow that
Spirit within to govern their lives, then you get love that is shed abroad by the Holy Spirit which
is very different from ordinary love. It is a love that is just bursting out. You are full of it
bursting out. You can’t hold it back. It’s natural; something that becomes natural to you. It’s
Christ loving through you to them.
The love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13. It is that kind of love which is beyond the
ordinary thing we talk about as love which is a mixture of kindness, sometimes guilt and sometimes a
desire to help the world to do good. You can see there is an almost automatic connection between
real faith in Christ and the love of your neighbor. The one stems from the other. It isn’t something
that has to be planted on top. The heart of it, you can see, is faith in Christ.
The issue is is the faith in Christ an all consuming, overwhelming, volitional [will] act of the
Holy Spirit? Is it a new birth in the Spirit or is it a reformation; a turning over a new leaf in
your life and beginning to take an interest in others? The two are connected tightly. This is part
of the reason why it is not just ideological or theological or intellectual to define faith in
Christ but a total will surrender to Christ’s Spirit. It’s vital to hold on to that. That faith in
Christ is all absorbing. Wesley used the term a recumbency on Christ; a lying back in his arms
because there is nothing you can do yourself; an absolute dependence on Jesus. It is an absolute
submission to him surrounding your life and being you life. There is a totality about it that’s not
present in an intellectual or mental assents.
So the two are very different. It does help you at times in dealing with people to see the
difference. Finally it’s the Holy Spirit within that can use you to bring them further on. It is the
Spirit of God needed to bring revelation that they are living the life that Christ is meant to live
in them. This is an absolute slap in the face to their Maker. If they don’t see that, then they
won’t make the complete surrender that is needed for God to send his Spirit into their hearts.
It might help you to see that often you have many people nowadays who believe all the right things
or appear to believe all the right things and make a great deal of their surrender to Christ. They
believe in Christ, their Savior and they will say those words. But they themselves will not have
been touched by the Holy Spirit or made alive by the Holy Spirit. Look at the statement in the
Bible where Jesus says the Holy Spirit is with you and in you. We often interpret that one was the
carnal Christian and other was a person filled with the Spirit (in the position of the Spirit being
in them). But the truth is the Spirit being in you is the Spirit being life to you. Jesus was
talking about the Spirit being with you while I am here on the earth but when I go up into heaven, I
will send him to you and he will be in you. So an ordinary Christian will have the Holy Spirit
dwelling in them.
Now the issue is is the Holy Spirit kicked out from time to time? He will come into you and he will
dwell with you and you with him. It is that issue; he dwells with you but will you dwell with him?
Will you let him be the owner of the life or will he just be the consultant? That’s where the
Spiritual vs. Carnal Christian comes in. Anyone who is a Christian the Holy Spirit has regenerated
and made them alive inside and is in them. Therefore Jesus’ promise is fulfilled.
So that, I think, is some explanation of the strange position we are in these days when so many
people say yes I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior. You can believe in him as a mental exercise
and a mental assent but will you let him run your life. That’s too often thought of as the extra
that comes when you are filled with the Spirit. But in fact to be born of God you can only be born
of God if the Holy Spirit has regenerated you because you have submitted your will to Christ. I
suppose that’s why I bring it to you again and again of the importance of Jesus being in us and of
him living our lives and us doing what he wants.
Is that clear? Always feel free to ask questions, I’m always ready to answer any.
Irene asks: Don’t you think it is confusing when people say I am a Christian, I am born of God but I
am not in the sanctification thing. So they aren’t willing to go further in faith with the Holy
Spirit. They have gone up to a certain point with their wills and then no further because of their
wills. So I think there is some kind of confusion there.
Pastor: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.”
[Matthew 5:6] John Wesley would say, have you a clean heart or are you going on to sanctification
or a clean heart. Are you hungering for it? What you are saying is settle down; this is the level of
commitment I want to make.
Irene: I have gone to the point of justification but I don’t want to go that far. So you can’t
actually do that. When someone asks are you going on to sanctification and if you are not, where are
you going? I remember that quotation, “The love of God is shed abroad in the heart.” The Spirit in
us is crying ‘Abba, Father.’
Pastor: Well, we need to be real with God. Let us pray.
Dear Lord, we know that it is too easy for us to water down your truth and not live in it ourselves.
So we would bow before you this morning. Lord Jesus, we would look into your face and listen for
your voice so that if there is any way we are not living the way you want to live in us, we would
see that and bow our wills to you. We would begin to let you do whatever you want in whatever area
of our lives that is. We know, Lord Jesus, that all will be saved if all is submitted to you. All
will be touched with your beauty if all is given to you. Lord, we would give our lives anew to you
today so that we may have faith in you and love to all the brethren.
We thank you, Lord Jesus, that your life in us is a whole. We thank you that if there is a lack of
love in any way in our hearts then you yourself will pour that into us if we are willing to remove
our resistance to it. So, Lord Jesus, we would trust you to give us light so that we may see clearly
and surrender our lives completely to you for you to do what you want with.
Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each
one of us now and evermore. Amen.