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Description: God’s Uncreated Life Lavished Upon Us
God’s Uncreated Life Lavished Upon Us
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
You’ll remember that Jesus said, “Not a jot or a tittle will pass from the law until all this is
accomplished.” It’s reasonable to think of the jot or tittle almost as an apostrophe. This is the
word for God, Elohim. And this would be the tittle and this would be the jot. This is the letter in
Hebrew for a long I, and a short I would be that. So Jesus said, “Not a jot or a tittle will pass
from the law until all this is accomplished.”
I think as a Biblical scholar you have to take seriously that every word in the Bible is important.
Every word is intended by God that he has written in the Bible. I think when you take it that way;
you receive real food from it. That’s why you have to be careful about modern translations. Many of
them are just paraphrases and they don’t treasure each word in the same way that say the Revised
Standard, or the American Standard, or the New Revised Standard, or the King James do where every
word is precious. Many of the paraphrases get the sense of it. But I think what Jesus was implying
was every word that is here is intended by my Father for you to study carefully because it will
enable you to keep the right balance and the right perspective in your own life and your own faith.
That’s why it’s important to take such care over the words of scripture and that’s what we’re going
to do today with the next verse in Ephesians. It’s Ephesians 1:8, “Which he lavished upon us.” It’s
a subordinate adjectival clause, not even a principle one. The previous clause we dealt with was,
“According to the riches of his grace.” And now this verse is, “which he lavished upon us.” Why I
emphasized taking each word seriously is that word lavished is actually “eperisseusen”.
And the word riches transliterated to English letters is “riches”. It’s actually “charitos” the word
for grace. Every one of these words emphasizes God’s rich grace and generosity to us. The meaning
of “ploutoz” is riches, wealth, an abundance of, a great amount of, and extreme value of something.
And so the Bible is saying, “According to the riches, the amazing abundance, and the great amount
of.” Then grace is, “A quality that adds delight or pleasure, graciousness, attractiveness, charm,
goodwill, or favor. It’s God’s attitude towards human beings of kindness, grace, favor,
helpfulness.” And the exceptional effects produced by God’s favor are ability, power, and
So it’s all the extreme abundance of God’s complete provision which he has lavished. And lavished
is, “provided for in abundance, caused to increase, caused to abound”. The whole emphasis is that
God has given us more than we need, far more than we need and that’s what the verse is saying. We
are the recipients of the riches of God’s grace which he has abundantly lavished and does lavish
upon us day after day.
I’d like to remind you of that grace because I think it’s overwhelming as you begin to think of it.
First, we wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t made us. So we first have his grace in making us. We can’t
imagine what it like is to not have consciousness. But we would not have a consciousness of our
very existence here if it were not for God. And God did not do what we would do. We’re such
controllers that if we make anything we like to make something that we can control. But God didn’t
He gave us his own life. Who here would have questioned him if he had made us just a little one up
on a dog or a cat? But he didn’t do that. He gave us his very own life so we have the ability to
think like he thinks and to feel like he feels. We have the ability to understand the things that
he understands. It’s unbelievable. You could not imagine a God doing that — i.e. making other
beings that had the same abilities as him and had his very own life. He did not make us little
playthings that he could play about with. Indeed, that’s where he got himself into all this
commitment. Once you make beings like God, they have to be dealt with in the same integrity that
God himself deals with himself.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve really thought through that. God is not able to make a group of free
willed agents, let them tear the whole place apart and then just blot it out and forget it. I think
it takes you to think through that a little because we, with our more casual attitude, tend to
think, “Well, now wait a minute he made us okay but we turned out bad. Well, he could just wipe us
off the face of the universe and start again.” He cannot do that. Why? Because of his own
integrity. When he commits himself to some line of action he is bound by his own integrity to stand
by that and follow it right onto the end.
Now we have trouble with that because we think, “No big deal. If you mess it up then you wipe it out
and go again. You’re the God of the universe. You can do what you want.” Yes, that would be true
unless you were God and are the kind of person he is. God has no shadow of turning or change with
him. Therefore, when he made beings like himself he was committing himself to all that they would
choose to do and to dealing with it not pretending that it simply didn’t exist. God cannot allow
Hitler to exterminate millions without him being in each one of those millions. I think we don’t
catch that. We keep thinking, “No, wait a minute. God is way up there and all these millions are
down here and it’s Hitler that chose to do it and he did it against God’s laws so what’s the
situation? Not one of those millions went fearfully into a lion pit, or into a gas chamber but God
himself went in inside them. Why? Because he has to be responsible for all that he does. He has
to be responsible for all that he has made.
He would cease to be his own integrated self if he didn’t do that. And so it’s quite important that
we grasp what he committed himself to when he made us of the same nature of himself. He was
committing himself. He was committing himself to dealing with everything that we did and to face it
with us. He faced it as the person who was responsible for originating it.
Now I think I tried to bring that home to you last day by pointing out how a parent feels
responsible for what a child does. It’s especially so if he ends up as one of those murderers who
has shot down children in a school or something like that. But that’s small compared with God’s own
situation. The parent doesn’t actually face the electric chair. The parent doesn’t have to go to
jail in spite of the fact that they might feel very much with the child. He doesn’t actually have to
do it. God himself does. He made us, and gave us existence but he didn’t give us existence as
little animals or playthings that he would play around with and then wipe off the chess board and
start over again with. He made us the same as himself. He gave us his very own life. We’ve said it
so often that “we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus. He actually made us in his own son.
It’s very hard for us to express the truth of that. We’ve touched it a little, when we’ve said, you
have to be quite wise about who you receive into Christian Corps because we’re much closer to each
other than a normal organization. We live together, we eat together, we sleep in neighboring rooms
and sometimes in the same room. We work together, and our finances are together. Whatever a person
does they affect the whole atmosphere in the home. We have caught something of that, and can see a
little how in an ordinary human family they protect themselves because they don’t normally take
outsiders in unless they adopt a child or have visitors from time-to-time. But they don’t actually
bring someone inside their home. And we’ve seen how important it is to be sure you receive the ones
that Jesus wants. But they’re still not inside you. Even if they come here to live with us,
they’re not inside me. I am able to get into my bed at night and to think some thoughts that they
don’t know about.
Now what happens when they’re inside you? You can’t even liken it to a mom and a baby. You can’t
because while the mom feels the little baby kicking inside she really doesn’t know all the baby’s
thoughts. In fact, the child, as far as we know, doesn’t have any conscience thoughts so the mother
doesn’t feel all the feelings that the child feels or all the anxiety. But Jesus does. We were
created inside Christ and everything that we feel, everything that we think he experiences. And so
when God created us he created us with a great generosity, a great grace.
Any of us could have said, “Look, it’s enough if you give us this beautiful world, if you give us
this universe, if you give us these skies to fly in and these roads to walk, that’s wonderful.” But
above all that he gave us his own inside. His own insides he gave us. He brought us not just into
his own home, he brought us into himself. I don’t know if you’ve thought through the incredibility
of the fact that virtually the same millisecond that God conceived of his only begotten Son, he also
in that same millisecond conceived of his only begotten Son as being the great human being in which
then God created all of us.
In other words, we were not an afterthought. We were not something that God decided later on. We
are an integral part of what God and his Son are. That is startling. I always thought there was God
and then he had his Son and the Holy Spirit somewhere way back in infinity or eternity. Then at some
point later on he thought of us. So in that way I felt we’re important to God but we’re something
that he created outside of himself. But you can see that isn’t so. We were adopted as his Sons from
the very beginning. And as his children we were created inside himself. The first moment he had
the opportunity to create us in Jesus, he created us.
So that is it. You’d feel you were insulting God of course and you were being unjustifiably
independent, but you almost feel like saying it wasn’t necessary. But see God knows it was necessary
because he wants children who are close to him. He wants others like himself and his Son. He does
not want little second rate citizens that will somehow be let into heaven by the back door and play
around the edges. God himself has made us an integral part of himself and of his own Son.
But that’s only the beginning of it. God wasn’t caught out, the same way even we and our little
human mental abilities are not caught out. A little dog can obey you or it need not obey you and
for human beings it’s the same. A human being with a free may do what you want them to do or they
may not do what you want them to do. So even we, with our limited abilities, can foresee. We can
actually go further than that because sometimes we say, “I’ll tell you what that guy will do. As
soon as he gets hold of that car he’ll take himself into a wall.” Or, we can foresee what other
people will almost certainly do.
That’s the whole basis of advertising. It’s the ability to foresee and anticipate what people will
do when they see a certain picture in a magazine. In fact, you could say the whole basis of our
manufacturing process is foreseeing what people will want to use, what they will need so even we
human beings can do that. Obviously, God with his infinite mind saw the whole thing in a second.
He doesn’t need time. Time is simply a gracious creation of his. It’s a temporary arrangement so
that we, with our slow little minds, could follow what he sees in a second. Even we with our
computers have started to make fun of our own minds and the slow motion within which they move.
But God himself is infinite and in a millisecond he saw the whole thing. Yes, he saw Marty
Poehler’s great great great great grandfather and then his great great great – and he saw what Marty
Poehler would do today. He saw the bumper that you bumped into. He saw everything. He saw
everything in a millisecond. Why? Because, God knows the whole potential of every person. Yet
the miracle is that inside all that foreknowledge and all that understanding he made us with a free
will. It’s remarkable. And we have trouble with that because we think, “If I had to make someone
I’d make them do what I wanted them to do if I had the power. But God didn’t. And God doesn’t
because he’s more committed to others who love him and others whom he can love freely than he is to
having everything go his way. And so he foresaw all that our lives would do.
He foresaw all that we would do except that it could only take place in one place — the place where
he had put us in Jesus. Could you look at your only begotten Son and infect him with aids? It’s in
those terms that you have to begin to see God’s commitment to making us in his Son and yet giving us
free will, allowing us to do whatever we wanted. I’ve likened it rather pathetically to little
vermin inside the body, eating away at the appendix, eating away at the arteries, and the blood
vessels. I suppose like a cancer maybe, except that it seems to be a living thing, and there are
millions of those. Some of them are Hitlers, some of them are Stalins, some of them are more clever
and deceptive than that, but they’re all eating away at each other because every time they eat each
other they eat the person that is in them, and that is Jesus. So they are actually eating away at
Jesus. The Father saw that all in a millisecond and that is the agony of Calvary.
He committed himself to that and was willing for that. And that’s grace that is beyond anything
that you can imagine. But then he went beyond that because his own Son was human as well as divine.
Even as his own Son was eaten apart and had to be destroyed so we all could be ended, Jesus obeyed
perfectly and was in love and trust with his Father. Christ’s divine side, had victory over the
destruction that took place in his humanity. His divine side rose up and God at that moment, when
he could have let the human side be destroyed, lifted the human side back into Jesus to give us the
chance that we now have.
And if you say, “You mean we started it all over again?” Yes, we started all over again. He
brought us into his Son and raised us up with him. Except that the life that he had foreseen us live
with all its mistakes, disobedience, confusion and chaos was borne by him and God reconciled all
those things to himself. He bore them, accepted them, and then laid out a life for us that had all
those things corrected.
In other words, God foresaw the whole of life that we would live. It was a bit like sending his Son
out along a path strewn with trees that had fallen across it, with rivers that had burst over it,
and with pieces of the roadway that had fallen away. His Son went along and lifted every tree out of
the way, all the roadway pieces and then he left the appearance of the tree there. So he left a
shadow lying across the road, he left what appeared to be a hole in the road. Then, when we came
along, if we obeyed him and put our hand to the tree, it was false and the difficulty was lifted out
of the way. When we came along to the water, we were able to wade through it easily. And so we had
a charmed way where the road has been made smooth and all the crooked things have been made
So God lived that whole thing in his Son in a millisecond. We then would have this opportunity to
walk a life that’s spread before us, out of which all the dangers have been taken. There is the
appearance of danger so that we will exercise our faith in God. But all the dangers have been
removed, all the problems have been solved, all the sicknesses have been borne, all the challenges
have been met by Jesus. All we have to do is walk in the good works that have been prepared
beforehand. Every work has been prepared carefully beforehand by Jesus so that we just walk in the
work. We don’t actually do the work we walk in the work. That’s part of the riches of God’s grace
that he has lavished upon us and is lavishing upon us now at this very moment.
So it’s unbelievable but that is how gracious and how generous God is. Of course, you can see how
silly we are to wonder, “Will, God will forgive me?” Will he forgive you? The dear Father has
already borne all that. He has not only forgiven but has provided an easy way forward for us. You
can see too why it is such a shame for us to get up any morning in depression. It is dreadful for
us to spend a second in anxiety. It is a crying shame that we do anything but laugh and rejoice all
day because the Father has provided the whole thing for us. Let us pray.
Dear Father, we thank you for the riches of your grace which you have lavished upon us. We thank
you Lord, for the abundant, generous gifts of energy, freedom, liberty, and joy that you shower upon
us every second. We thank you Lamb of Calvary. We thank you blessed Savior for bearing all of the
darkness for us so that we could walk in constant light. Thank you for bearing all the death for us
so that we could walk in daily life. Lord, we thank you. Amen.