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Description: God’s World is the Real World
God’s World is the Real World
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The right place to start is the word of God. It seems to me it’s not familiarity with the word of
God so that we can quote all the memory verses. The idea of learning verses is good but it is just a
first step getting it into the realm of your head. But the word of God is the real world. It’s the
real spiritual world and so God has put that to us as the first and obvious way to get into the
The word of God is the real world and you can’t live in that real world unless in a sense you live
in God’s word constantly. I think we have a tendency to remember words of God that help us in
moments of emergency. And we would almost think somebody who lives in the whole atmosphere of the
word of God is a bit bonkers. You’d have to be a fanatic. But I think that’s where you have to
start. You have to start by living in the atmosphere in God’s word.
I think some verse come to us at certain moments. But you must admit that we do tend to think of it
as an unusual moment. God has given us light and he’s given us revelation. But why he puts the word
of God in as such as essential to the armor of God is because the word of God creates the whole
atmosphere of reality where there is safety.
In other words I think we go across to the factory probably empty. I used to say to Lucy, “I think
part of your trouble is that you absorb (in a kind of poetic way) the entire environment that you go
into. Whatever it is you just throw yourself open to it and let it all come in upon you.” And I do
think that’s just what she did.
But I think we have a tendency to go over to the factory with nothing much in our heads. And that
wouldn’t matter much if in our spirits we were at God’s right hand. If we were in his word and
filled with Him then we would hit the factory with that rising in our hearts. Then you must admit
the times when you found yourself responding the right way were times when you were already up. You
kind of did it as part of the general spirit of praise or joy or thankfulness that was in your whole
being at that moment.
If you say to me, “Do you think we should be singing at all times?” Well, probably you should be. I
think we should be talking to ourselves the word of God. I don’t mean that in a blind, religious,
obedient way. But the atmosphere of God’s word and presence that’s where our being is. So that when
something comes along it’s a mere nothing and we respond the right way almost without thinking.
I think too often we go across to the factory with nothing in our heads and nothing great in our
spirits but maybe a bit of a down feeling or worried about something. But we don’t hit it in praise
and in God’s spiritual capsule that protects us from the surroundings. And so really why we lose it
because the surroundings are where we live. We live right down there on the earth. I think God’s way
is for us to live where he has placed us in the heavenly places. And that’s where this comes in.
The word of God is the base for it but he says first of all truth. You live in truth. What is the
truth? It’s in Eph 2:4-7 – “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved
us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you
have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in
Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness
toward us in Christ Jesus.”
God has placed us there at his right hand in Jesus. That is the fact. God who is rich in mercy has
made you alive in Christ Jesus and has raised you up and made you to sit with him in heavenly
places. That’s where you are. Living in that atmosphere is living in the capsule. But you see it’s
more than just the thought and that’s where we kill ourselves. We think, “Oh I must remember that.
I’m in the heavenly places and …. We are full of the words, full of the thoughts but we aren’t there
If you ask when do you think we are there at times? Well, an odd time in a hymn you might be there.
You can be there in feelings by influenced by words of a hymn or by somebody else. Sometimes in
prayer God may well lift you into that place. It’s what Karl Barth says about rhema. God has a word
that is special for you and it is different from the word he has for everybody else. And when you
hear that word it lifts you into the spirit of his presence.
It seems to me that that’s the only safe place to be. It’s only safe to dwell in truth at God’s
right hand. In other words I would say if you’re not dwelling there and praising God there you are a
sitting duck. You are bound to lose your temper. Or you’re bound to let your normal human responses
govern your actions. You are bound to because there is no lift within. It’s not just an emotional
lift but a reality that you dwell there at the right hand of God.
Then there is righteousness. It’s your outward action. Your life is to be lived in harmony with
that. You are to be righteous in action. It’s a tricky one where you feel I should show sympathy
with this person and their attitude, whether it’s a customer or somebody in the factory. It’s very
tricky to know if you can do that without being unrighteous. I don’t know how much you can
sympathize with a person’s depressing attitude of the economy without in some way being touched by
it. I don’t know if it is possible.
I think it is serious what Paul says. We are to live in righteousness. Your life needs to be what
your inner being is. If you are living at the right hand of God that needs to show itself in your
outward life otherwise you create a battle or strife within you. Faith is action. You don’t really
live in faith unless you live in it with your words. That’s where it’s tricky when we come to
talking with the expatriates and we sympathize with them. “Oh yes, it’s hard… and you go through a
whole sharing of the troubles you are having.” I’m not sure how much you can travel there and not
lose it, or dent your armor or be creeping out of the capsule.
I agree with you there is need from wisdom from God when you speak with someone who tells you about
the problems he is having in his home. It certainly has to be the response of Christ in sympathy and
understanding. But to what extend you can steep yourself in that without their spirit beginning to
touch you — I’m not sure. I think that’s the whole realm where we are being naïve. We are actually
dipping our feet into that spirit.
We know that God gives the Holy Spirit to them who obey. And so if you don’t obey it seems to me
then the spirit is unable to protect you. So you can see how tricky it is to talk about these things
because it’s a whole realm that we have touched often but touched on the level of the mental.
Then Paul talks about the gospel of peace. We often joke about “losing our peace”. Well the fact is
that the peace comes because God has reconciled all things to himself. He has already made the world
right and has everything reconciled. Our peace comes from that and then living in the confidence and
joy of that. So it’s very tricky how much you can lose yourself in the general depression about the
economy. Or you can lose yourself in the general chaos of a particular department of the factory at
It’s very questionable how much you can steep yourself in that without losing the spiritual
protection that you have if you remain in your capsule. In other words you have to decide, “Are you
living here in this fallen world or are you living in the risen world with your dad and mom?” That’s
about it. The communion of saints was not just a name that the old people had. The communion of
saints was something that we all took part in whether we were living or dead. “Whether we live or
die we are unto the Lord.” And there was great clarity in the New Testament that that’s where you
I think we have a tendency to be man pleasers, and one of the crowd. We want to be with them. Well,
I’m not sure how much we can do that without it touching our own spirits and leaving us vulnerable
to the attacks of the enemy. But that’s what this is all talking about.
Then, there is the shield of faith. There are moments when the attack is intense and the crisis is
so massive –like the economic crisis — or the death of the dad or mom is so overwhelming to us or
some other disaster. It’s vital to get the shield up right away. I don’t know about you but I have a
tendency to say, “Well I ought to experience this and understand what they are facing. I ought to
receive it first as a human being.” I suspect that you don’t in a battle you don’t say “I ought to
experience this arrow. Let me feel this first one. Then I’ll shield myself from the second one.”
So, I suspect that why we have difficulties and why we do lose our peace and lose our self control
is not a failure in the mental realm at all. It is that we have little idea of how realistic living
in this spiritual capsule is and how real the protection is that God gives us. And that’s why this
speaking of the armor of God is generalized to, “Be careful, read God’s word everyday and pray.”
The helmet of salvation is from a Greek word meaning a head covering. Salvation is from a Greek word
that means security. And of course the head is your security. The head is what enables you even when
you are beginning to get outside the capsule to remember the words of scripture and remind yourself
to stay in the capsule. So the head often shields you and protects you from disaster. So that’s why
he talks about the helmet of salvation. Be very clear where your security lies. It’s in your
position in Jesus at the right hand of God where God has already reconciled this whole thing.
Then, when you do that – if it’s cancer – you just stay steady. Cancer or no cancer is neither here
nor there. With financial disaster you stay steady because it is neither here nor there. Because you
live in a world that God has reconciled to himself. And so I think there is real truth in these
verses that we have been studying and I think the heart of it is that we have a tendency to take
this whole spiritual battle and turn it into a whole mental, emotional and volitional battle.
And so we are not able to deal with the spirits that keep on coming and that keep on eating away at
us. The result is that we only from time to time rise up into the heavenlies. We spend most of the
time down here slogging it out but from time to time we rise into the heavenlies.
If you say to me, “Can you clarify anymore the difference?” I certainly know situations where you
are “up”, situations where I’m dwelling in God’s protection and preoccupied with that. I’m enjoying
him and praising him and thanking him and it seems to me that is a definite state that I can
recognize. And then I can certainly say I know another state where somebody tells me something that
has happened and I’m right down there in the midst of the difficulties and trying to work out how
can I manage the cash flow so that this thing actually works. Or what can I do to sort this person
out who is having these difficulties. And there are vast differences between the two experiences.
What I’m suggesting is that the normal Christian life is at God’s right hand, far above all every
rule and authority and dominion and power – not only in this world but in that which is to come. And
that that is where God has placed us. When we dwell there we are in reality. When we dwell anyplace
else we are in unreality and at the mercy of whatever happens to us.
I’d just ask you to think about it because we can easily reduce the whole thing to another self-help
system, another book that tells us how to live victoriously. Then you get back into the mind and
emotional game. So I think God’s will for us is to dwell where he has placed us and I think you lose
everything when you don’t do that. A lot of Christians live an “earthy life” even though we call it
a heavenly life.
The victorious life is uproariously successful. The salvation is uproariously successful. It’s not
just by inches, little bit by little bit. It’s something that entirely different from ordinary
earthly life. It ties up with prayer times in the morning. I’d like to thump myself on my head
something when it comes to prayer times. If we come “down” hoping that we’ll be lifted up we are
just a weight on the prayer time. We are a weight and will have our own trouble being lifted up.
You can’t be responsible for involuntary sin where you have no opportunity to exercise your will.
You just do it and it’s done. I don’t think God holds us guilty for that. But the moment you are
aware of how you are, up or down, do I believe God is here this moment or will I just wait till the
prayer time to do it. The moment God gives us the consciousness that we are not dwelling in
Ephesians 2:4 — at the right hand of God – that’s the moment that we either turn around or we stay.
If we stay you’ve yielded somewhat to the spirit of the world and the people around you. And as sure
as anything if you are going to see any human beings you are going to get more of that. I think all
of us know deep down that even though you might think that it’s a mental thing you can go into
atmospheres and you know there is a different spirit. You knew with Mrs. Steinsland and those older
people that live in the right place. You sense that they live in a different atmosphere.
I am with you that God has given us a good hard road – the road of the machines that can break and
things that can go wrong with the materials. We live in the midst of the financial and practical
world. It’s constantly facing us. I think unless we are in the heavenly places — in the spiritual
capsule — we are sitting ducks for the next spirit to pop from one person into us.
I don’t want to go on forever but you can see how relevant it is for these dear souls. If we live
“there” they live down there in the midst of al kinds of deceptions and wrong ideas. We need to see
that our ideas are wrong too but ours are more failing to live in what is right. But they are often
living in the midst by what is wrong and their lives are governed by it. You can see that this is a
battlefield in a quiet way and there is only one place to live. So we need to feel for each other in
the midst of it. I need to do more than telling you how to govern your mind. That’s not the problem.
The truth is in that verse that we’ll deal with next Sunday, “praying in the spirit at all times.”
Let us pray.