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Description: God’s Undying Love
God’s Undying Love
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
We are on the last verse in Ephesians – a big moment. It’s a very simple verse – Ephesians 6:24.
“Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love undying.” Grace is God’s undeserved
favor. That’s one meaning of it. And the other meaning is the power of the Holy Spirit. So in a way
it’s both – Grace be with you –i.e. God’s undeserved favor and the power of the Holy Spirit be with
Then….”All who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love undying – it’s immortal, genuine love. It’s
endless love and also genuine love. So it’s not a bad translation that the RSV has, “love undying.”
So, grace, the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s favor be with all who love the Lord Jesus with
love undying. And it’s the love side that I’d like to remind you of now.
We’ve been 27 years in Raleigh and 17 in Minneapolis and of course you know how long we’ve been here
in London. So we’ve been at this Ephesians for a long time. The big thing it brought home to me was
the eternity side of things. We have a hard time getting our heads around the fact that everything
is one great eternal moment. God has just broken it up into months and days and years for us. It is
a slow playback of a great moment and that’s what we are seeing.
When we get into eternity we’ll find that it’s one continual eternal moment. And that’s been a
difficult one to get our minds around in Ephesians. The Greek is very complex and the terminology is
At the time of the gas chambers in Germany there was a little boy around 4 years and the girl (his
sister) was maybe 10 or 11 years. A German soldier was taking care of them and he couldn’t die
without telling it to somebody. He was about to separate them because they killed the men and the
women separately. When he went for the little guy, his sister says, “Leave him alone. My precious
brother will die with me.” It’s heart breaking and so they marched to the gas chambers.
precious brother will die with me.” It’s heart breaking and so they marched to the gas chambers.
Now here’s the bit I think that we don’t grasp. We don’t grasp exactly where that took place. Even
though you are touched by my tears and we are sad about it we really don’t see it as it is. That’s
because we have difficulty getting hold of Ephesians. If you go back to the first chapter you almost
think Paul is getting his Greek tenses mixed up a bit. He starts of in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual
blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that
we should holy and blameless before him.”
How could you choose us before the foundation of the world? How could you do that? He destined us in
love to be his sons through Jesus Christ. How could God destine us before we were even born?
“…..according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely
bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption.” How could you talk about all that as if
And then he goes on in verse 9, “For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery
of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of
time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven, and things on earth.” How could he do that? How
could he foresee all that?
So, I think you really have to verge into what is dangerous territory. Some people would say it’s
almost blasphemous. What would you do if you were God and you wanted to have others like your son
Jesus who were free to love you? How would you bring that about?
What if you were not only God but if there was nothing else but you? If you think of that it creeps
up on you from behind. You say, “Yes, there can’t be anything but Him. If there is, we could have a
battle of worlds if there’s somebody out there that’s as powerful as God. But there is only God.
What is there besides God? Nothing! There’s nothing. You mean there is no love? No. You mean there
is no mercy? No. You mean there is no beauty? No. You mean there is no kindness? No. There is
How do you get beings who will love you because they want to? You’ve got no alternative. How will
you end up with them loving you or having a will that can choose to love you — as opposed to loving
nothingness? Now that is difficult and I think that’s what our Father faced. He had to find some way
whereby we would see the difference between him and nothingness. He had to find some way where we
would see what beauty was rather than ugliness and what love was instead of hatred.
Unless we were able to see an alternative we didn’t have a choice. All we could do was be what he
made us to be. And God faced a group of little creatures that couldn’t do anything that he didn’t
want them to. And so he was faced with having toy soldiers that he could play around with but not
anyone that he could have real relationships with.
It seems to me in that situation our Father had to himself experience what it would be like for him
not to exist. He had to experience what anything would be like that was not like him. He had to
create the possibility of nothingness and to allow these people that he wanted to make in his own
image to experience nothingness. He had to allow them to see what ugliness was so that they might
know what beauty was. They had to see what hatred was so that they would know what love was and then
they would be able to make a choice.
I think our dear Father knew that if he ever created anything that was nothing it would not exist
unless he created it inside himself — unless his own beloved Son would allow him to make these
things inside him. And that’s what it says, “in him all things were made and all things were made
through him.” In John it says, “Without him was not anything made that was made.” And indeed, all
things hang together inside of him. Even the evil things hang together only because they are inside
of Him, because he himself has eternal life.
The only way God could create nothing that would exist is if he made it inside his own son who had
eternal life. And so everything that has taken place from the very beginning has taken place through
his permission and in a strange way by his will. It’s taken place inside his own son.
We evangelicals like to think that there is Jesus and then there is this evil world out there. There
is Jesus and in him all things hold together. And he has allowed things to be made inside him and he
bears everything. He bears their sins. He bears their nothingness. He bears the little guy in the
gas chamber. He bears him. He bears the German soldier that wanted to separate them. He bears the
hatred in the German soldier. He feels that. He is touched by our infirmities.
From our tiny perspective we cannot believe that he can touch the fellow with the mustache. Hitler
was made inside of Jesus. He bore Hitler inside himself. He bears inside himself me when I’m making
a sarcastic remark to my dear girl and then he bears that in her. So the whole thing is wrought
inside of Christ and God has indeed destined us all to be our Father’s sons – part of his son. And
that’s the situation.
Every time you are harsh with one of us the Savior feels that inside of himself. Otherwise you
wouldn’t continue to exist. That’s because there is no existence outside of God. There is
nothingness. The only reason you continue to exist is because you are inside Jesus and everything
you do is done inside him. And that’s why this verse is so important – to love Him with an undying
love. That is what he has done endlessly with us.
Think it through for yourself. It seems to me you end up touching something of the deep truth in
Ephesians. There is something in the simple fact – that everything that takes place is born by our
dear Father. Our Father is not one who creates a bunch of people and then let’s them tear each other
apart while he looks through binoculars at a distance. He is not that kind of God. He makes us
inside of himself so that he is touched by every bit of evil. He knows it and understands it and
feels it long before even we do.
I cannot believe that anyone would make themselves nothingness because of love. Who would allow
himself to be filled with all that he doesn’t want — with all that hurts him deeply? I sure
wouldn’t do that. But that’s what He’s done. So everything we do and are feeling has already been
sorted out by our Father. He’s already sorted the flat tire out. He’s already sorted out the bank
account. He’s already sorted out the strain you have with the customer. He’s already done all that.
But he bears your restlessness and your strain and stress. He bears it in himself.
We all know something about moments of danger, and crisis or in hospital situations how you feel a
remarkable quiet and peace during that time. We’ve all been in accidents where we actually don’t
know what’s happened. We are not absolutely clear or conscious of the second.
Dan knows this from a guy that pulled out in front of him on his motorbike. He was suddenly on the
“other side” and didn’t know how he got there. We’ve all had moments like that. It’s the same with
dreadful pain. You feel that someone else must be bearing this pain. You feel a tinge but not all
that you thought it would be. It’s the same as going into surgery or anything like that. It’s just
barely a second of awareness and then it all just goes very quickly.
The little 5 year old guy was out before he knew it. The gas hit Jesus because Christ bears the main
brunt of things and that’s what our Father has lovingly done. He has given us free will and even
created the possibility that we would do certain things. But he himself bears the main pain. And he
allows a little to filter through his fingers to us. I think that’s the reality and what that verse
“Grace be to you – the undeserved favor of our Father –and the ability of his Holy Spirit be with
all of you who love Christ with an undying love because there is nothing alive outside of him at
all. There are some kindly hopes for your moms and dads and all the kindly people who have gone
before us. They have in some way died in Christ. I know according to the formula they should have no
rights. But certainly God has not washed his hands of them. He has not washed his hands of us and he
himself is after something more than you wear a black hat and I wear a white hat.
It’s worth thinking about when you and I are doing or thinking of something that we know you
shouldn’t, it’s relevant to reflect that God feels it too — Jesus feels it. I’ve thought often when
I get into moments of strain or stress – am I causing Jesus strain and stress? Am I wearing him out
with my silly little worries? When I know he has not simply born the strain and stress of that but
he has solved the thing. He has actually solved it. He faces the problem, solves it and then bears
our strain and stress as we worry about the problem.
So I think it’s important to realize what a dear Savior that we have. Let us pray.