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Description: God Has Reconciled all Circumstances
God Has Reconciled All Circumstances
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I believe in today’s verse God has something to say to us about our attitude to these sheep, and to
the customers that we meet each day, and to the members of the staff in the factory. And it’s in
Ephesians 2 and we’re at verse 14, you remember, “For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and
has broken down the dividing wall of hostility.” And you remember, the verse is about the Gentiles
and the Jews. And we said last Sunday that the phrase or the clause, “He is our peace,” means that
when God created us in Jesus he foresaw Joe’s little bit of dickering with the heart and the
breathing; he foresaw the difficulties that Myron would have two months ago with the machine in the
factory; he foresaw every detail of each one of our lives. And he accepted it, and he accepted our
own attitude of independence and indiscipline that often makes such a mess of a life that he had
planned, and he bore that in himself before ever he made a thing.
Before he ever created a thing, he foresaw all those things. And he bore them all inside himself.
And that’s why he made us in Jesus, so that he could bear them all himself. And so every screw
thread that has broken, actually broke inside Jesus; and every tank that has run out of gas, ran out
inside Jesus; and every difficulty we have had in our lives, happened inside Jesus. And God foresaw
We need to see that plainly, because we ‘dumb-dumbs’ think we fix things. We don’t fix anything.
And in our heart of hearts we know we don’t fix anything. We know really all we do is go through
some motions and some remarkable things happen. And sometimes they happen again, and again, and
again. And so we get used to the idea that we’re actually fixing them. We’re not. God foresaw all
It reminds me of one comment by my dear friend Peggy, who did something wrong on the computer, and I
said, “What are you doing?” And she said, “I was just dinging around in the computer.” And I said,
“You’re not here to ding around.”
And I think sometimes we think God was just dinging around when he made us. He was just dinging
around, and he created us and threw us out here to fend for ourselves, and to sort the thing out,
and he would meanwhile pop in from time-to-time to give us a hand. God didn’t do it that way. God
foresaw the whole thing. In a second he foresaw it all. And he made us in Jesus. And then you
remember, he crucified us in Jesus, and he resolved all the problems in our lives in Jesus. And he
put to death all the principalities and powers that he knew would stir up inside the world. And he
did all that. And then, he put us into the world as it would have been, if he had not done that.
And so what we’re seeing here really is an ‘old movie’ of ‘the world as it would have been’, if God
had not changed it all in Jesus. And that’s why of course, it’s perfectly reasonable to say — I
mean, it is silly because we turn things so much around. People say today, “How could there be a
God when the world has to suffer the things it suffers?”
That’s why it’s suffering. It is. It is a world apart from God that is suffering. That’s what
we’re looking at. And that’s what God has shown us. But the ‘world itself’ has been crucified in
Christ. And there is perfectly redeemed life for each one of us that he simply asks us to accept.
And it will be manifested here on earth in an appropriate way.
So we have said that that is why we say Jesus is our peace. He is our peace. In Jesus everything
has been resolved. In Jesus every problem has been solved. Everything is ‘in Jesus’ ‘at peace’.
That’s why he himself has peace with God, because he has seen all the world put right. And that’s
why he is at ease with his Father. And when he says, “My peace I give unto you not as the world
giveth, give I unto you.” He means, “I give you the peace ‘I have’ with my Father. ‘I’ am at
And you know we’ve said at times, God is not sweating it out up there, and he isn’t! He is at ease!
He has done the sweating already. He has borne the pain; he has borne the sins; he has borne the
mess of the world; he has borne the earthquakes; he has borne all that. And now he is at peace, and
he looks out upon a world that he knows he has already fixed. And Jesus is our peace in that the
more we dwell in him, the more we dwell in that peace even in the midst of storms.
So that’s what we said last Sunday. And of course, I mentioned to you that God put a witness into
the world that that work had been done. He chose a people called the Jews, and he gave them some
sense that things had been fixed. And sometimes he did it through their prophets who said, “The
rough places have been made smooth and the crooked places have been made straight. Sometimes he did
it through giving people like Abraham promises that they would not be just few in number but his
children would be as the sand upon the seashore. At other times he explained to them that the
desert will become a rose. And he indicated in all kinds of ways, by special promises and special
covenants with this small group of human beings called the Jews, he assured them the thing has been
fixed. The thing has been changed. Even your own attitude and your own lives have been changed.
Even though “your sins are as scarlet they shall be as white as snow. They shall be like wool.”
And so he, in many different ways, gave to the Jews, his chosen people, assurances and witnesses
that this was so.
In a world that seemed to be living apart from him altogether, he gave them evidence of his presence
in the temple worship, and instituted ways of getting through to him and worshipping him, so that
they had some hope that this world was not as broken, or as destroyed, or as desolate as it
appeared. And those signs were given to the Jews.
The rest of the people, the Gentiles, didn’t have those. And that’s why you remember, if you look
back a couple of verses, we studied it there in Ephesians 2:12. He says to the Gentiles, “Remember
that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel,” you
remember commonwealth is “politeia” in Greek and it’s the whole organization of Israel. “You were
alienated from the whole organization,” not that you were hostile to it. You were just separated
from it; you had no idea of the commandments; you had no idea of the temple worship; you had no idea
of the covenants that God had made with the Jews; you had nothing to lift up your thoughts or lift
up your hope. You were strangers to the covenants of promise; you didn’t experience the promises
that Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob experienced, that gave them the feeling that there is a God who
loves us, there is someone that has fixed things, there is someone who will prosper us despite the
mess the world is in. You didn’t have that. You were, “Having no hope and without God in the
world;” “Having no hope of the promises and without God in the world.”
Now, those people had none of the assurances that the Jews had. And the Jews of course, said,
“Those, they’re ignoramuses; they’re far from God. They have no understanding of God. They have no
idea of his faithfulness. They have no idea of his love. They’re just – they’re hardly human.”
And so of course, you remember, in the temple there was the holy of holies and then around that
there was a holy place, and then around that there was the court of the Gentiles. And the court of
the Gentiles was separated from the holy place, because the Jews said, “The Gentiles know nothing
about God.” And so they had this – well, what it’s called there in the verse we’re studying in
2:14, “For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of
hostility.” And there was a dividing wall there between the court of the Gentiles and the holy
place where the Jews could come and where their priests could offer worship to God. And that
dividing wall of hostility was there and kept the Gentiles out, and stated very clearly, “You people
have no part in the God who is gracious and loving and who takes care of us.” And so that middle
wall of hostility was there.
Those little people in the factory, they’re Buddhist. Or they’re Spiritists at best. They know
nothing of God, and we ought to try to tell them about God. And these customers, they just – they
don’t know anything about our hymns, or our Bible study. They don’t read the Bible. They don’t
pray. We have to love them and pray for them, and we have to try to lead them into truth. And it’s
not a dividing wall of hostility, but it’s certainly a wall. They’re not like us. They don’t
understand the things we are concerned about. We don’t hate them. In fact, we try to love them.
And we want to try to explain truth to them sometime if the opportunity arises. And we’re not
exactly the Jews, and they’re the Gentiles, but they ‘are’ different from us. I mean, they ‘are’
different. They don’t think the way we think; they don’t sympathize with the things we sympathize
with, and maybe sometime they will.
And this verse says, “Jesus is our peace.” There isn’t one of them that was not crucified with
Christ. There is not one little one in the factory whom Jesus does not know intimately. There
isn’t one whom he has not borne inside himself. There is not one of them whose sins and whose
disobedience he has not — not only endured but absorbed, and put his arms around them, and hugged
them to himself. There is not one customer that we have that Jesus does not know in the depths of
himself, and yet has drawn to his own heart in love and in graciousness. There is not one of either
the factory workers or our customers that Christ has not already drawn to his Father’s heart, so
that all heaven is available to them. All they have to do is accept that it is there; accept that
they are there, and behave accordingly.
One of the things that we protestants, “would be” theologians, felt we differed strongly from the
Catholic church on, was the Catholic church seemed to assume that everybody was already saved,
seemed often to talk to people as if they were already in the flock of God. And we felt it was
unreal. They were treating these people as if they were Christians, and in the doing of it they
were lowering the whole level and standard of Christian living. We weren’t too enthusiastic about
the ‘inclusive attitude’. If you’d said, “You mean you liked the exclusive attitude?” We would
have said, “No, we’re not exclusive.” But we probably would, we probably have said, “Yes, I think
of them as different from me. I think of the non-Christian as kind of being out there. I don’t
think of them as having been included in Jesus. I think they can become part of Jesus, but I don’t
think they are part of Jesus at this moment.”
If you pressed us and said, “But Christ died for all, therefore all died.” We’d have said, “Oh well
yes. Yes in some strange way that’s true, but it’s plain and obvious isn’t it that they haven’t
died in Christ? Look at the way they’re living.” But in fact of course, “The love of Christ
constrains us because we judge that if Christ died for all then all died.” And indeed, the Bible is
very strong about it. And actually Paul says, “You have died and your life is hid with Christ in
And in fact, the little workers, and our customers were crucified with Christ. And all that’s
needed is for them to believe that. That’s what we always say; we always say, “All they need is
faith,” except that we often think of faith as something that will change the reality, that will
somehow make reality real. It won’t. Reality is there. If they don’t accept it they certainly
don’t live in the joy and the peace of it, that’s true but they’re not changing reality.
Does it make any difference? Oh, I think it does. I think it makes a difference to the way we talk
to customers, and to the way we talk to our workers. And it makes a difference that the Dear Person
who has borne me inside himself with all my wretchedness, has also borne right beside me, this
person that I’m talking to in this store.
If you say to me, “Well now, it confuses things; I mean, if you’re going to treat them as if they
are Christians,” well, it certainly confuses it if you say to them, “Hello brother, how much have
you praised God today?” Certainly that confuses it. But if you behave in love, and in truth, and
according to an honest relationship with them, and according to your ability to perceive what
they’re thinking and what they’re understanding, if you talk to them that way, they sense a
difference. They know there’s a difference. They know that you think of them as yourself. They
do. Even, I think, the worst of them.
They know whether you think of them, not just as equals, but whether you think of them as being like
yourself. They know that. And I think that’s part of what love is. I think that’s part of what
love is. And I think God uses that, because it’s reality. And he is able to get over to them, that
they’re accepted and loved.
If you say to me, “Oh well now, you might have to confuse them or deceive them.” Yes, if there’s no
Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is not present to convict of sin, yes. But I think God has warned
us, “That’s the Holy Spirit’s task.” Our task is to live in reality, to live in the reality that
these dear hearts that we meet day-by-day in the stores, and these dear hearts that are labeled
Buddhists or whatever we label them in the factory, are part of our Jesus and part of us, and our
brothers and sisters.
Let us pray.