Description: If we consider our resources - our life of faith will fade. We will sometime see there's no negotiation, we must venture all to please God
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Loved ones, I spent the whole afternoon working on the Sermon about the mind for tonight, but I know
I shouldn’t preach it. I know Jesus knows what he wants to say, so loved ones, turn to Revelation
3, and I am so sure of this loved ones, that I don’t care whether it benefits anyone or not, I have
to get it out of my heart because I’m so sure God wants me to say this.
Revelation 3:14-22, “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the
faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. I know your works: you are neither cold
nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,
I will spew you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not
knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy
from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the
shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes that you may see. Those whom
I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if
any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down
with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the
churches.’” And I think that last verse means that not everybody here is to receive this, but some
of you here are to receive this and you who have ears are to listen to it.
Now loved ones, one of the things that came home to me so clearly during the past few Sundays when I
tried to make the first step of the new birth so clear to loved ones who are not Christians is
absolutely simple; you’re either a Christian or you’re not a Christian. Loved ones, it is so clear
and with my miserable little mind, I’ve tried all kinds of ways of ministering it gently and softly
and diplomatically and strategically to all kinds of people, but loved ones, the more you get into
this dear word, the more you see you’re either a Christian or you’re not a Christian. You’re either
born of God or you’re born of the devil and it’s either one or the other.
And one of the things that Jesus said to me as I was coming in the car, I said to him, “But Lord, a
lot of the brothers and sisters have problems.” He said, “Did I spend much of my time talking with
people about their problems?” And I said to him, “Well Lord, you did talk to the woman who was
married to several different men and the disciples asked who she would be married to and you dealt
with some issues like that.” And Jesus said, “Yeah, but you notice those were just problems, they
were little intellectual questions, they didn’t refer to a person’s failure to live the abundant
life, or a person’s failure to be living in complete joy and fellowship with me day-by-day.” And
then I saw it loved ones, because I had to say to him, “You’re right Lord, when many of my brothers
and sisters come to me they say, ‘I’ve got this problem,’ they mean they have a problem with their
anger, or they have a problem with their prayer life, or they have a problem with their Bible study
life, or they have a problem with their business life.”
And Jesus said to me, “Yes, you see, there aren’t any problems that keep people from me, there is
only rebellion and resistance that keep people from me. People may call the rebellion all kinds of
things, they may say, ‘I’m going alright with Jesus but I have a problem with this.’” But Jesus
said, “You be very clear in your own mind; if a person is not living in joy with an open heaven
above them and with a great sense of my fellowship in their lives, and a sense of my pleasure in
them then it is not a problem they have difficulty with, its rebellion or resistance against me.”
And then loved ones, I saw other verses that made it so clear that you’re either a Christian or
you’re not a Christian.
And it’s amazing how much conversation you can get into in a ride from home to here, but when the
Holy Spirit is moving, you can cover a lot of ground and that’s what Jesus did. I said, “But Lord,
some loved ones have difficulty giving up some things and some of them kind of are holding onto some
things. They’re trying to grab you with one hand and hold onto these things with the other.” And
he of course pointed me to these parables.
Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and
covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” And I saw that
that’s right; the guy gives up everything to get the field that has the precious treasure in it.
And then verse 45, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who,
on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” And Jesus said,
“Many of the loved ones, even in the body here have pearls and they’re treasuring those pearls more
than me and they will not sell those pearls. They’re trying to make out that it’s some kind of big
problem to them, but it’s just that they will not let go of those pearls.”
And then loved ones, it came to me so clearly this morning when I was sharing that there are two
ways to live life here on earth. You can live by what we’re getting from each other, by the
approval you know that you would give to me if you laugh at my jokes, or the recognition that you
give to me by not criticizing me, or the approval you’d get from each other. You can live by that
or you can live by the things that we get, we possess. The little jackets that we have, the coats,
the new shoes that we have, the car that we have, or you can live for the experience. And you know,
it is so stupid if you think of it, the strawberry ice cream that you might get tonight, or you just
multiply it a wee bit more, the girl you might go out with next week, or the guy you might marry, or
the vacation that you might go on. You can live for those little excitements, for the little
happinesses that you can get from people, or the security you can get from things, or the
significance you can get from other people, or you can live by what God your Father gives you and
actually, it’s either or.
In order to be born into his relationship, you have to die to all those other relationships. And it
came so clear to me this morning when Jesus gave me this phrase; that some of you are sipping
poison. Some of you are sipping poison. That’s why you get upset if somebody criticizes you. You
who are in Fish, that’s why you get upset when somebody is a little harsh. Sure, they’re not right
for being a little harsh with you, but you get upset because you are still living off their approval
and their recognition, and you’re not willing to die with Jesus to man’s approval. All these big
problems that we’re talking about having just resolve into simple unwillingness to die with Jesus to
getting from everybody here and everything here the significance, and the security, and happiness we
Many of you are not really Christians, truly. God stated it clearly to me and I’m not going to
fiddle around it; many of you are believers. You believe all this that I say, I know you do, I’ve
talked with some of you, and I know you believe it. Some of you can outline this better than I can.
You know it, you believe it with all your hearts but do you see you keep thinking that you’re a
Christian even though you haven’t done it. And you’ll come and say to me, “But Pastor I have done
it in some ways. In some ways I’ve entered into Jesus’ death, it’s just I’m having a little trouble
with this.” Well loved ones, do you see the fact that you’re conscious of it and are still
tolerating it shows that you’re not willing to sell all the pearls that you have.
Now, if you say to me, “But Pastor, aren’t there some ways in which some of us depend on the outside
world and not on God and we don’t know it yet?” Sure there are, and me too. We don’t know it yet
and we’re doing the thing in ignorance, God doesn’t hold us responsible for that at this moment.
That’s not what brings us spiritual death. That’s not what prevents us being crucified with Christ.
What prevents us being crucified with Christ are the things we know about. The things you know
that annoy you when people cut you down, or put you down. That’s it loved ones. The little things
you’re living for in this body; the little things that you’re trying to get for yourself from it.
The little things you’re still trying to get from even tonight, because some of you are still
thinking, “Well, what little excitement might I get tonight? Maybe we’ll do something after the
service which will somehow make the evening worthwhile.” Loved ones, do you see it’s not that God
wants you never to enjoy those things, but it’s that you get your main kick from those things. If
you don’t get that you get disappointed, or you think it’s been a bad evening. In other words,
you’re not prepared to get your full kick from just God your Father and from his love for you and
from your kneeling down and praying to him. You’re not prepared to live for that alone. In other
words, you’re not prepared to die to those other things.
Loved ones, I know that many of you are not real living Christians because you’re still sipping
poison. You are. You still live for – maybe it’s me, poor creature that I am, maybe it’s living
for a little approval that I’ll give you, or a kind word that I’d say to you, or that somebody here
will say to you, but above all it’s that nobody will criticize you, that nobody will be hard on you,
that nobody will be harsh to you. And even in Fish many of you are looking for something for
yourself in the thing. That’s why it’s hard at times, that’s why serving in the restaurant is hard
because you’re still looking for something for yourself; you’re not prepared to die to getting
anything more from this world and dying with Jesus to anything that anybody could give you. The
first step in becoming a Christian is “metanoia”, its repentance, it’s turning from the world and
it’s turning to God alone.
Now the weakness is that that phrase has been destroyed for many of us who were brought up in
fundamentalist churches because we think turning from the world is putting way behind us all the
“don’ts”; you don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t go to the theatre, don’t have anything to do with
non-Christians. Now loved ones, I don’t mean that, I mean the world in the real sense. It’s
turning from getting from the world the happiness and the significance and the sense of security
that the rest of the human race gets from the world. Dying to that is the first essential to being
born of God. There will be no new creation unless that old creation is dead.
Now here’s the truth; Jesus is saying to each one of you tonight, “I have allowed you to die in me
and it was not easy, and it was not painless. And when I died to what everybody thought of me, when
I died to getting anything more from this world, I allowed you to die with me. Are you going to
reject what I have done for you?” Now loved ones, that’s it, that’s what Jesus says tonight to you.
And you may plead with me and say, “But brother that’s a radical kind of Christianity that says I’m
no longer to look to people for my sense of worth, and my sense of value. You mean, I’m not to be
annoyed when somebody cuts me down, or somebody is harsh to me?” That’s right. That’s what dying
with Jesus means and when you continue to say, “But that’s a further stage in the Christian life.
That’s a stage of saintliness that I’ll come into later on.” I say Jesus says, “That’s why I died
for you. I died so that you could be clear of those things. Won’t you enter in?”
And loved ones, I think too many of us are saying, “I want to sip more poison. I want to have
Jesus’ approval but I want my peers’ approval, after all it’s only human. Loved ones, don’t you see
that all you’re doing is confusing the issue? You’re talking about problems when there is no
problem. You’re trying to confuse the issue and say, “But isn’t it just human to be disappointed
when a vacation doesn’t come off the way it’s meant to be?” Loved ones, it’s carnal, that’s what it
is, it’s not human, it’s carnal. It’s just because the greater part of the human race reacts that
way that we call it human but it’s not truly human. Truly human are those who get their joy from
the one who stands behind the vacation and behind the flowers and behind the beaches that you would
experience. True humans see behind all that stuff and see the dear one who gives all that to them
and true humanity is receiving from God all that you need. Loved ones, that’s the first step in
being a Christian; repenting.
I think some of you have just not repented, I really do. I think some of you have repented of
little things you’re doing wrong, little things you’re saying wrong, and you keep on repenting day
after day after day. But it’s not repentance in the sense of “metanoia.” It’s not “I’m going this
way and I change and I turn around and I go the other way.” It’s not that. It’s just “I’m going
this way and I go a little bit more slowly this way” with regret in my heart all the time, “I’m
sorry Lord, I’m sorry.” But you’re still going that way and the proof of it is that you continually
are having problems. You’re continually having problems with “This one said this to me,” or, “My
roommate says this to me,” or, “I have trouble with this one or that one.”
Ah loved ones, I’ll tell you one thing that helps me to know that this is right, what I’m preaching
tonight; every time I say it my own spirit responds and says, “Yes, that’s the way it was for me.
That’s the way it was.” It was a whole immersion in Jesus. It is a full death to what the world
and what others can give you. It’s a total death to what others think of you. And then loved ones,
I have to say to you I don’t care if you all think this is the rottenest sermon that I have ever
preached. I don’t care if you think I’m miserable. I don’t care what anybody thinks, I really
don’t because that was part of what I died to with Jesus and I have to say to you that it is a
complete work. You either go into it or you don’t.
Now loved ones, don’t you see there are other things that all of us here are ignorant of and God
understands that. But once you become aware of them then he expects you to enter into Jesus on
them. But the problem is with the things that you know about. Now, you know them, you know when you
get hurt, you know when you get offended because somebody criticizes you. You know when you feel
put down, and reproved, and rebuked and you have a wee bout of self-pity. Now loved ones, you can’t
be in that dear one who died on the cross and still be having that kind of self-pity. You’re either
baptized into Jesus’ death or you’re not and if you’re not, if the old creation is not wiped out how
can you get a new creation? And you know how you get it: you have a kind of syncretism in your
life, a kind of “both/and” kind of experience. Those of you who have troubles, you know that’s the
problem, you have a wee bit of God’s Spirit that somehow comes from all the other people you know,
but you have this other thing rising up inside you and the battle is on. Now that’s not God’s will
for us. God’s will is a complete death and then a complete new birth.
Now, can I just share a wee bit on that, which God showed me so plainly? Loved ones, there are
other good verses. John 12:24-26, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into
the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life
loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves
me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the
Father will honor him.” And Jesus says “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it
remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Now loved ones, you have to die to begin to bear fruit in Jesus and some of you have fruitless lives
because you haven’t died to all those things. Now, I speak just as directly to you sisters and
brothers who aren’t married; some of you are keeping yourselves out of a full new birth because
you’re hankering too much after getting the man or the woman that you think you ought to have. Now
loved ones, you’re either going to die to what you get or don’t get from a husband or wife, or
you’re going to live in eternity in hell. Now that’s right, because those of us who are husbands
and wives know fine well that you can’t live off each other anyway, so you’re being led by the nose
by Satan if you’re thinking, “If I only had a wife. If I only had a husband, I’d be okay and I’d be
whole and complete.”
Loved ones, you’re striving after a pearl that you should be cashing in for the pearl of great price
and you love the creature more than the Creator. Unless you’re willing to die you’ll bear no fruit.
Jesus makes it very plain and I think some of you in this regard have been like Lot’s wife in its
Genesis 19:24-26. “Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out
of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities,
and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife behind him looked back, and she became a pillar of
I think some of you started off right, but you’ve started to look back to some of the things that
you took an attitude of death to and some of you are hankering after just a little pleasure, just a
little excitement, just a little satisfaction, just a little thrill, just a little approval from
other people, just a little more money, just a little more security, and you looked back and you’ve
become a pillar of salt. And the only way to allow God to melt you is to come again into a death to
those things. Loved ones, you have to die to the security and the significance and the happiness
that you get from other people. You have to.
You know the older ones of us here would say just from a commonsensical angle that it’s unreliable.
You can never rely, finally, on those people to keep giving you significance. You can never finally
rely on the job to keep giving you security. They’re soap bubbles. But do you see, we don’t always
love the truth when we see it and even though that’s the truth, you still want those things rather
than God, and loved ones, you’re just spiting in God’s face. Now, you better be clear on that,
you’re just spitting in God’s face and saying, “You are not enough for me I must have these other
things.” And I’d press you on that; why would you otherwise get upset if somebody is hard with you,
or criticizes you, or rebukes you? If you don’t actually care what they think of you, why would you
get upset? And the truth is that too many of us here are still dependent on other people for our
significance, our security, and our happiness.
Now loved ones, before going onto the second part I’d like to point you to Romans 6:8 because the
Bible is so clear — it’s only after we mess it all up with rationalization that it becomes complex,
but the Bible gives forth a clear sound all the time and the wayfaring man will be able to find his
way. Of course, it has to be a wayfaring man; it has to be a man that is faring, that is going on
his way. It’s us creatures that stop and sit down that get in trouble with it. Romans 6:8, “But if
we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” And if you haven’t died
with him you won’t live with him. That’s it.
Now in the new birth, God can only bring his Spirit into you if you’ve turned away from everything
else. God will not give you his most precious gift unless you turn away from all other substitutes
and so it’s just foolishness; I don’t see how you think you’re going to persuade God to do that.
How you think you’re going to hold onto all these substitutes that you have and he is going to give
you his most precious gift? It just doesn’t make sense, nobody else would do it, so how you think
the mighty God is going to allow himself to be bluffed like that, I don’t know. God will not give
you his most precious gift unless you turn from all others. You will not live unless you die.
Unless you die to what other people give you, you won’t come alive to God. Now that’s why many of
you have no reality in your own spiritual life. That’s why the prayer life is miserable, because
you’re still trying to get from others some of what you should get from God alone.
Now, what is the new birth? You remember this morning I shared with you that I think a lot of us
get into all kinds of little juggling contortions in our own minds and you remember how I mentioned
that verse about the promise of the word of God, how much more will the heavenly Father give the
Holy Spirit to them who ask, and we kneel down and say, “You made a promise Lord, now won’t you make
that promise real to me? There’s no reason why you shouldn’t.” And we try and persuade ourselves.
Now loved ones, let’s not be stupid any longer. What God is calling us to is a relationship with
him. Now, a relationship is a personal encounter with a person. It involves conversation and
sharing with each other. That’s what the new birth is, it’s coming alive to God and that’s
something that happens day-by-day. In other words, God gives you more and more of his Spirit as you
enter into companionship with him. Any of us here who are husbands and wives know that we could
have entered into that agreement at the altar but if we didn’t live with each other and grow closer
to each other, we wouldn’t even call that a marriage. Indeed, the law doesn’t. The law says if you
don’t consummate what is done at the altar it is no marriage. So it doesn’t matter what kind of big
ceremony you’ve had, it doesn’t matter what kind of decision you’ve made at an altar at a church;
you’re not born of God unless you’re day-by-day in a living relationship with him; in other words,
unless you’re walking in prayerful communion with him and receiving from his word more information
about him. Now loved ones I think that’s the second step and I think many of you have given up that
step long ago.
I think many of you have no Bible study or the prayer life that we’re talking about. I think a lot
of you are still on the old thing that you’re good when I preach about it but then after two or
three weeks of enthusiastic application it goes to pieces and then it’s the old business of trying
to remember when you last read a chapter. Now loved ones, it doesn’t matter what you say about your
being a Christian. Jesus showed me this clearly, “Would you stop listening to them as if you’re some
dumb kind of idiot? If they’re not walking in day-by-day communion with me and Bible study, how can
they say they have my Spirit flowing through them when the only way to receive my Spirit is by
talking with me and getting to know me.” And loved ones, I saw it suddenly, “Yes Lord, that is
true. They can say they believe it all, they can say they believe everything in this Bible, but if
they’re not receiving your Spirit from you day-by-day then not only can others tell that but Lord,
it’s obvious that they are no longer living in your Spirit. They’re just playing theological games
if they start planning on eternal security because if they were truly born of God, if they were
truly alive Lord, they would love you. They have either committed apostasy and have turned on you
completely or they have never known you and therefore are not in a relationship with you. But if
they really know you, they’ll be carrying on a day-to-day relationship with you.”
And loved ones, God showed me that so plainly; that the new birth is a living with God day-by-day.
And of course the truth is this loved ones; why do you not pray — because you don’t need to pray.
Why do you not need to pray –because you’re really getting your strength from other people and
other situations, and other things. That’s it, and you should stop all the fiddling around. Why
you don’t pray is because you don’t need to pray, and you don’t need to pray because you have never
really died to getting security, significance, and happiness from other people.
Loved ones, when you die to all that, when you put that behind you, you grab at God in prayer. You
grab at him. You can’t do without him and that’s what enables you then to go into the world of men
and women and to give love rather to be always draining it from others. That’s what enables us to
come to a service like tonight filled with God rather than dying for another drink from him. Now
loved ones, Jesus just showed me that’s what I’ve to share.
There is only one other verse and its 2 Timothy 3:4-5 and I thank God for giving me the words
because I knew that even if I just read these verses that’s what I should do. God is talking about
the last times and then he describes the people who will be alive in the last days. Verses 4-5,
“Treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding
the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people.” And I think that’s what some
of us are who have turned back, we are actually just downright lovers of pleasure. I think some of
us actually belong to this body because we just like pleasure and we like the enjoyment of having
nice people as friends. God obviously knew what he wanted to say to us and much is wrong with
saying “We’ve got used to Campus Church and it’s quite a nice place — we’re not moving on with God
and we think we’re not moving back.” Actually, we’re dead, we’re nowhere near them, but we like the
situation and we maybe enjoy all the business things, and all that, and it’s an alive place, and
it’s nice to be around, but actually we just love pleasure, we’re just pleasure lovers. It’s just
we’re dumb because we’re satisfied with less exciting pleasures it seems to me. I mean, I wouldn’t
want to be around a church if I didn’t know God. If that’s all the excitement you’re going to get
— dear help you. But I think that for some of us that’s the stage we’re at. We love that, it’s a
pleasure that kind of keeps us jumping along, but we’re just lovers of pleasure.
We have the form of religion but we deny the power of it, so we can repeat all the words, all the
verses of scripture, we know it all, but we deny the power of it and we deny it in the most potent
way we possibly could; by lacking the power of it in our own lives. So we make nonsense of the idea
that Jesus is a power in your life because we have no power in our lives, and actually of course
we’re doing more harm to God than any good because we’re going around in our businesses and our
schools claiming to be Christians but we don’t have the power of Christ in our lives. So we’re
actually doing harm because we’re giving a false picture of what a Christian is.
Now loved ones, I suppose that’s heavy stuff, but Jesus, I know, wanted to say that and I don’t care
if you take it or not. I know he wanted to say it and now there’s no mystery so just don’t go away
and cry and say you have another problem. You have no problem; it’s plain what you should do — you
should die to what you’re living off of instead of God. You should. Whatever it is; a vague hope
that you’ll get a better job, or a vague hope that you’ll get the right husband, or a vague hope
that you’ll somehow arrange your social circle a little more enjoyably. Something there that you’re
living off, something that you’re not prepared to do without, you have to die to that and then
tomorrow morning you have to work out what half an hour is before your normal rising time, and you
have to get up and get the Bible out and start reading it and start seeking God and start allowing
his Spirit to come through your life.
Now loved ones, I think God has made us a body that prefers to be straight with each other, so I
think you know what to do and I think you should just do it. Don’t go through a whole lot of
contortions, just do that and come alive in God and begin to live as he meant you to do, and be a
Christian, because it’s a black and white thing. You either are a Christian or you’re not a
Christian. Really. Shall we pray?
Lord, I pray for the loved ones who have the ears to hear this and who needed to hear this. And
Lord, I remember your words that there are people who hear your word but do not do it. They are
like men who build their house upon sand and when the storms of life come, and when the final storm
comes on judgment day, the house will be swept away. And then there are those who hear and who do
what your word tells them, and they are like people who build their house and their life on a rock.
Lord, I pray now for the loved ones who need to act this very evening. I ask you now to make it
absolutely clear to them what is the secret idol in their hearts that they have to die to, what
approval of men, what recognition of their peers, what security they’re trying to get out of,
something that they’re not willing to give up if you should ask them to give it up, what little
happinesses and excitements they’re living for thinking that something is more exciting than you.
Lord, I pray that you will enable them to see that and simply die to it this evening and accept what
you have done for them. And then I pray that tomorrow morning you will see your children proving
that they’re born of you by talking with their Father and receiving life from you, Lord, as people
who cannot do without you.
Father, we would die if we did without food for our physical bodies as long as some of us have done
without food for our spiritual bodies. Thank you for making it plain to us that we must be dead by
now and that it’s time to come alive and look to you who all the time says, “Though your sins be as
scarlet they shall be as white as snow and though they be like crimson they shall be like wool.
Come let us reason together, serve the Lord.” Lord, thank you that your arms are always open and
that you ask us to come to you tonight and make things right once and for all this night and be what
we claim to be, children of God.
I ask this Lord Jesus, in your name and for your glory. Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the
love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and forever more.