*** double click video to view full screen***
Description: God Provides Beyond Our Imagination
God Provides Beyond Our Imagination
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Barth [Karl Barth, 1886 – 1968, Swiss theologian] mentions it and I thought, “That’s something I
nearly never thought of.” But, the more I thought of it the more I thought, “You’re right.” He
said this, “A lot of us have our idea of God from the Greeks and Romans.” And at first I thought,
“That’s silly, that can’t be.” And then of course, I realized that so many of our priests and so
many of our ministers have, of course, come through the education that was based on the teaching of
the classics. Many of them did Latin and Greek [as language studies], but even if they didn’t, they
know the stories of the Roman gods. And a lot of that influenced parts of Christianity heretically,
really, in the first century.
And then I saw some of the things that he said. He said, “Many of us think, therefore, of God as a
kind of impassive, inscrutable being who is at a great distance from us and who cannot suffer, who
can not suffer, and who is unfeeling and distant.” And I thought, “Often I think we’ve been in that
situation that we’ve started off with the idea that somewhere in the great spaces of eternity there
existed a God like that.” And we kind of imagine him as being there on his own, even if it was only
half a millisecond. We think of him as being there on his own and then — not quite he scratched
his head, but he thought, “It would be nice to have somebody with me. I think I’ll have a Son,
Jesus.” And then several million years later he thought, “Oh maybe I would — we could have some
other people like my Son, and I could make them, and put them on a planet.” And it is surprising
how much of our thoughts about God are tied to that kind of gradual progress from this unknown
inscrutable, impassive being that is out there, who strangely enough, still in a way, in our minds,
retains some of those attributes even though he seems to have this warm Son of God that he has as
his only begotten Son.
And I think we’ve often thought of it that way. And of course this dear book [indicating the Bible]
is remarkable, because it doesn’t give that kind of revelation about God at all. This book says,
“In the very beginning was the word.” Right at the very beginning Jesus was there. And it gives
the whole revelation to us that we were not a long after-thought, that we were in Jesus from the
Indeed it’s interesting, if you do struggle through Barth a bit, you’ll see that he says very, very
clearly that you can almost say — and I mean this is startling I think to us. You can almost say
that we were right at the beginning with God, that he had the whole vision of not only his Son, but
all of us in his Son right from the beginning. That is what God is, God is a loving… God is love.
And we often say that, but we kind of think that, “Oh yes, somewhere in the spaces when there was
no Christ, there were no human beings, God was still loving. Except, who was he loving?
And so it does make sense the more you think about it, that our dear Father had us in mind from the
very beginning, and that he had us in his Son and created us in his Son. And his plan was that his
Son would come to earth inside us, and would complete the creation that he had made, complete it
according to his will. And if you’ve read Fromke [Devern Fromke, American Christian author],
“Ultimate Intention,” you have touched that a little, where he has said, “Yes, it was always God’s
will for us to be in Christ, that Christ was not just sent in as a kind of savior to deliver us from
the mess we got into.” But it was always God’s plan that we would be in his Son, and that his Son
Jesus would work upon the world and upon the creation through each one of us.
And of course then, the Bible goes on to make it clear that God also, so that we would be in every
way like his Son, gave us free wills. And of course we came to earth and he foresaw all that, which
is reasonable you must admit. It is utterly reasonable to believe that of course God knew what he
was making. Let’s say he knew the trouble he was going to cause himself or even the pain he was
going to have to bear. And so he made us with free wills; we came to earth of course, and got full
of ‘ourselves’, as he knew we would. And we began to decide, “Forget this person that is inside us
or that we are inside! We will do what we want to do in this earth. And we’ll do it by our own
And of course he foresaw all that. And what sometimes we don’t realize is, what we are or what we
have been before we came to know Jesus is the result of that kind of life. And the things we have
trouble with in our present lives come from that lie that we entered into back then in the first
Adam, and the lie that continued right down through the centuries. And most of our anxieties come
from that: that we come from a race that has for centuries thought ‘wrongly’ that it is on ‘its
own’, and that it has to do what it must do by its own ability, and that it has no one else to look
after it, but itself.
And so we are actually the results of that. And much of our present lives — even those of us who
have come to know Christ — much of our present lives is still affected by that. And many of the
little habits we have in our personalities come from that whole attitude. So, often when we
suddenly find ourselves worried, because it looks like red ink in the bank balance, that is
something that has been bred into the race for generations. And in a way we’re acting not only
against what we call our own foolishness, or our own lack of faith, but we’re acting against a long,
long strain and stream in humanity that has developed that kind of “flight and fear” approach to
And so that’s really the situation we are in before we come to know anything about Christ. We are
the end of a long, long race of human beings who have lived a lie. And what God of course did for
us right from the beginning — right from the beginning he knew that he would have millions of parts
of his own Son Jesus that had developed in perversion, and that would have to be changed. And
that’s what he did. He himself was in each one of us in Jesus, and he bore all the destruction of
that in Jesus from the before the foundation of the world.
And that was all done. And we have come to earth living in the midst of the lie. But he himself of
course has done away with that lie, has changed it back to the reality that he had in mind for us in
Christ, and has recreated us in Christ and made us completely new.
And that’s why Paul, in this chapter that we’re looking at — really you could say it’s the mystery
chapter because it’s the whole presentation, you may remember, of what Paul says is, “The mystery,
the amazing mystery that Christ is in us, the hope of glory. The amazing mystery that we have been
created in Christ for good works which he prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” And so,
in this mystery chapter, that’s why Paul prays as he does. So if you look at it you’ll see it in
the context that I’ve just outlined. In Ephesians chapter 3 he refers first of all to the mystery.
Then in Ephesians 3:10 he says, “That through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be
made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the
eternal; purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and
confidence of access through our faith in him.”
And he says that that is the mystery: up in verse 8, “To me, though I am the very least of all the
saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to
make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God…” The mystery hidden for
ages in God has been this miracle of creating us in Christ and then destroying us and remaking us in
him. “…In God who created all things;”
And then he says you remember in verse 14, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from
whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may
grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may
dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to
comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the
love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
And of course what we dear hearts struggle with is, we know that that is all true, but we think to
ourselves, “But we’re our parents’ children. And I have my dad’s face, and I have my mom’s way of
speaking. And they are my parents, and I’m really ‘their’ child. And of course we struggle with
that whole thing. I mean we know that God made us in Christ; we know that our moms and dads are
just as temporal as we are, and as transient as we are.
But somehow there, we call them mother and father. Somehow they are our parents; we’re closer to
them surely than to anybody, and yet we know that that isn’t right. We know that they have no
ability to save us once they die. They have no ability to save us once we die. They even are
limited in their ability to do much for us now as we’re grown up. And yet somehow we struggle with
the idea, “Yes, but they’re our parents, and we are like them, and a lot of our traits and our ways
and our attitudes come from them. Yes, I know I was created in Christ. Yes I know I was created in
Christ from before the foundation of the world. Yes I know that first and foremost he is my origin.
I am held together by him; I exist in him. I know that but, but, am I not close…?” And that’s the
battle. “Am I not closer to my parents?”
And of course the fact is, what is “clinging to us closely” there, is the good things about our
earthly creation. Our earthly creation and being made in another lady’s body is not evil. There is
goodness in it. And so that’s where we get confused. We think, “But there were many good things
about being attached to this world.” And we tend to think the good things surely, we ought to hold
The difficulty we have is we hold onto the good things and then it brings a lot of other
disadvantageous things, too. We have attitudes that our parents have; we have ways of speaking that
our parents have; we have whole abilities that our parents have. And in a way they tie us down.
And of course what Paul is saying is, “I pray that you may enter fully into the fullness of the
stature of Christ, that you may be filled with ‘all’ the fullness of God, and that you may be
completely changed. You are a new creation in Christ but I pray that you will experience that
completely, and have a total new birth, a total new life that is absolutely different, where you
yourself are preoccupied completely with the fact that you are here in this earth so that Christ
himself can live a different and individual life through you. And that your life is in him, and
that he is closer to you than anybody else is. And you are closer to him than you are to anyone
else. I pray that you may be filled with all the fullness of God,” and that’s what he’s asking.
And what we saw last Sunday was he is not asking a foolish question; he is not making a silly
request. What is the Person going to do who is hearing that prayer? Just look at it in verse 20,
“Now to him,” God our Father. “Now to him who by the power at work within us,” Christ himself, “Is
able to do far more abundantly that all that we ask or think.” And you remember how we discussed —
we studied that Greek word for “abundantly.” And it’s “exceedingly abundantly.” It’s beyond
anything we can imagine. He is able to do far more than we can ever imagine, far more than all we
ask or think! God is able to do that.
“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever.” And Paul
says, “This is magnificent, that what we are praying that God will do for is in Jesus, he will do
way beyond what we’ve asked!” In other words God is able to absolutely change you completely, and
me, and to completely make us new creations and new beings who have nothing of the ‘old’ tainting
our lives. He is able to destroy us utterly and completely so that we are dead, and only Jesus
lives. And from then on we are able to live ‘constantly’ preoccupied with him. And that is what
God is able to do. He’s able to do exceeding abundantly above what we ask of him.
And I think we need to see that anew. We are able, this very day, to rise up from our seats as
utterly and absolutely and completely new creations.
I know you’d have to leave your mom and dad with Jesus. You’d have to really say, “Lord that was a
good life, and there were many good things in it, and many good things I received from my parents.
But I see that you are calling me to die to all of those as well, and to allow even the good things
to be destroyed in Christ, where you put them to death, where you wiped out all our former life,
where we had misunderstood the importance of this person or that person, and we had substituted this
person or this experience for you, all those things, you destroyed in Christ! And I now ask you to
bring me into the complete deliverance from all those things.
And God’s word says, “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think.” So we
are able to be utterly and absolutely free.
I could testify to you that it does just absolutely change your whole inner feelings and attitude
when you live your life, looking up to Jesus every moment, and saying, “This is your life, Lord.
It’s not mine. It is yours. And not the way we do at special times when we realize we’ve sunk
pretty low, but that you can live that way all the time, because God has done this work. And he is
able to make it real in each one of us. He is able to make it a complete work in us, so that, “It
is no longer I that live but Christ lives within me.”
Let us pray.
Mighty Father, we can glimpse that you have done something thorough and real for each one of us in
your dear Son. And Lord Jesus, we can hear your voice assuring us that you are ready now to live
fully in us and to free us utterly and profoundly from all the past, from the bad things in the past
and also from the good things, so that we are utterly dependant on you in whom we have been created,
and so that you are able finally to live fully the life that you have planned in us.
So Lord, we ask you by your Holy Spirit to bring us into the completeness of the new creation that
you have brought about. We thank you for your plain assurance that if anyone is in Christ he is a
new creation, all things are passed away, and all things have become new. Lord, we would open our
arms and grasp the reality with our faith, and rejoice in it, and no longer look back, remember and
thank you for our dear mums and dads. Thank you for all that you have given us in the past, but
Lord, we would now cast it into the depths of that grave, and we would ourselves shake off the
remains of the old grave clothes, and we would stand up with you new creations, no longer ourselves,
but you alive and strong and vital within us, thinking your thoughts, and doing what you want to do,
and in the process lifting us into a new life of joy and trust.