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Description: Live as Children of Your Master
Live as Children of Your Master
Sermon Transcript By Rev. Ernest O’Neill
What I’d like to try to share is really quite simple. It started for me around 3:00 in the morning
because I knew we were coming up to Ephesians 6:5 which is really not the simplest message to share
amongst people like ourselves who don’t own too many slaves. Ephesians 6:5 – “Slaves, be obedient to
those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ.”
That’s the verse and I hope this transmits some light after I point you back to the verse that I
think is the heart of the book of Ephesians.
I’m sure you’re gathered that Ephesians is one of the deepest, most profound books in the Bible and
of course the center of Ephesians is in Ephesians 2:4. “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…”
You need to get clear in your mind that obviously he’s talking about a deadness that followed our
independence of God himself and our rejection of him. That obviously was pre-creation of the world.
It’s the only way to make sense of this verse. God conceived of us and at the same millisecond saw
the whole thing. He saw every act that each one of us have done this past year and this very day.
Obviously God knows everything. If he doesn’t know everything who does? And so the moment that he
conceived of his Son and of us being part of his son, that same moment he knew once he imparted to
us what he had given his son – free will – then everything else could follow.
Hitler, the concentrations camps, the things you and I have said harshly to one another, God saw
those things that very second. And he saw that we were dead in our trespasses. And there was no way
he could avoid the pain that every father has with his children. And because God made us inside of
his own son it was more than just observing from a distance. It was seeing his own son writhing as
we performed our acts of rebellion. And so he saw all that. He saw that that had to be.
There was no way out of him experiencing the nothingness that we had the freedom to choose instead
of him. That’s part of why Christ cries out, “My God, my God why hast Thou forsaken me?” Christ
could not imagine being left in the nothingness that there is when God ceases to be. And so he
committed himself to enduring that inside his Son for us.
And so out of the great love who is rich in mercy (he’s certainly rich in mercy) to commit himself
to thousands and centuries of years of us doing the same harsh thing to each other day after day,
month after month, year after year, with him taking the bulk of the pain and the suffering. So
everyone that died in a gas chamber experienced a little bit of the agony. God himself bore the bulk
of it in his son inside that person.
And so God rich in mercy is an understatement. He’s filled with mercy and he continues to work in
our hearts despite our constant torturing him and his son. God who is rich in mercy, out of the
great loved with which he loved us — how unbearably sweet it is that God would yearn for the work
of his hands, would yearn for the creature he had made. Yes, what love that is to actually want the
person that you had made and to yearn for them and treasure them.
“So out of the great love with which he loved us when we were dead through our trespasses….” There
we were, determined that we’d have nothing to do with him. He saw the rebellion of the whole world
throughout all the centuries of its existence. He saw all that deadness and yet, “God who is rich in
mercy out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses he
made us alive together with Christ.”
Christ whose death we had brought about, he made us alive together with him. He didn’t make Christ
alive and leave the rest of us where we deserve to be. He made us alive together with Christ. By
grace you have been saved – by God’s shear generosity. And raised us up – these beggars, these
dirty, antagonistic, hostile creatures – he raised us up with Him and made us sit with him (with
God) in Christ Jesus in the heavenly places. So right back them when we were dead, before we had
even started to repent, God made us alive. He made us alive.
If you say to me, wasn’t that a risk? Risk isn’t the word. To us it is ridiculous. Why would you do
it? And the answer is that he loves us and he’s prepared to go to the end of eternity for us. So he
made us alive and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. “So that in the
coming ages – (this 21st century is one of these ages) – he might show the immeasurable riches of
his grace in kindness towards us (by giving us constant love, by being there when we are sick, by
lifting us up when we fall and then surrounding us with flowers and beautiful things like lakes and
rivers, bicycles and cars and all the little treats that we get)– the immeasureable riches of his
grace (his help and strength when we are in trouble) towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you
have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing (you’ve had nothing to do with it) it’s
the gift of God, not because of works lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship.”
And on that basis, being now at God’s right hand, knowing that’s where we are, that’s where he’s
placed us and will continue to keep us in his mercy trying to enable us to receive the joy and
delight of it. That’s the position we are at and that’s our basic relationship with God. That’s what
changes every other relationship including the one in Ephesians 6:5.
“Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters.” They are not your final master. They
are your earthly master in the flesh. But you have only one master and you are with him at his right
hand at this very moment. So give them obedience because you are at the right hand of God. Your real
position is not in that little store with the buyer trying to guess is she going to buy or not. Your
position is at the right hand of God.
His will is that we would go into that store filled with that joy and peace. The big thing in our
minds would not be, “Is this store going to do big business?” Does she know what she’s about? What
will she like? No, you are at the Father’s right hand and you are a pretty happy child. And that
dear soul behind the counter knows what your preoccupation is. She knows whether you’re worried and
anxious, not sure how the sales will go today. She also knows a happy child when she sees one. You
know it yourself when a person is at peace and rest. You know when a person is contented and
satisfied. And you similarly know when a person is depending on you.
I’m sure you’ve used the term or idea at times. There are certain persons who draw from you. They
drain you. They can’t help it. They have nothing inside themselves and they are depending on you. I
hope you bring me some happiness, some new ideas. I hope you liven this life up of mine. You feel
that they are always pulling out from you. A person knows that. A person can read you as you go
through the door. Is this a happy child? Is this someone who is satisfied and contented and in a
place where they are satisfied with life and enjoying it and have what they need.
That’s what happens when you live at the right hand of God. I think it was Vern Fromke that wrote
“The Ultimate Intention” that said position is everything. Though I think it could have been
Watchman Nee. Remember he says, “We get lost trying to find our way back to the same journey. The
main journey is the important thing and not the getting saved from being lost. But the emphasis is
the same. Position is everything. Your condition follows your position.
If your position is down here, you’ll walk into that store with your bag hoping that you’ll get a
sale. If that’s your position, that’s where you’ll be and the other person knows that. But if your
position is at the right hand of God — this is something deep, something that you’ve sorted out in
your prayer times. It’s probably something you need to sort out everyday. That’s where you are.
I used to be skeptical of this phrase, “I had a real hallelujah time this morning!” I thought,
sure, you whistled a little tune and sang a few songs to yourself. But I think the old saints knew
what it was. It was praying long enough to know you were at the right hand of God. It was praying
long enough for all the other things around you to fade away and for you to know where you are. And
there does come a peace, rest and a deep contentment when you come to that spot.
Normally the best thing is not to get up off your knees until you’re there. It’s when you are in
that position – not when you’re striving for it – where you’re there, settled in it, that’s where
you are – there exudes from you confidence. It’s a restfulness extends from you. It’s the second
rest of the people of God.
“So be obedient to your earthly masters.” They had no reason not to be obedient. They knew that the
one person they had to be obedient to was the one that was in their heart. And so they had nothing
to lose from being obedient to their masters. They had nothing to prove. They didn’t need to suggest
that they were better than just a servant of a slave.
“And with fear and trembling…” They were really anxious to please them. They wanted to do the right
thing. The good presentation of showing our jewelry comes from a heart that is full, satisfied and
at peace. There’s a difference between that and a presentation where you are thinking, “I hope they
buy this or I hope they buy that.” There’s a difference. You can do it with fear and trembling
meaning you ought to do it well. But you can do it well either from fear or from joy and love in
your heart. And there’s a big difference. In one you are showing jewels and the other you are
showing real jewels. There is real treasure coming over.
Would I say it will help your sales? Who cares? That’s not why you are there. You are there to
transmit the confidence that God has designated for every child of his. And that one in the store
has been created by God to enjoy this gracious position that he has given her or him at his right
hand. And the only way he can catch that is if you are full of it yourself. You’ll never talk him
into it. That won’t do it. But if Christ is there in you and you are in his right hand you can feel
“….with fear and trembling in singleness of heart.” That’s what happens. All the rest fades away,
the store and the jewelry and how your car is gong. Singleness of heart takes over and this is a
great day. “Zippidy do da, zippidy day. My oh my oh what a wonderful day!” It’s that and it comes
out from within if there is time spent in his presence.
It’s that position and relationship that transforms every other relationship and position and fills
it with life. It seems to me that’s it. It transforms the behavior of slaves to their masters but it
transforms the relationship of reps to their buyers. And of course it transforms the relationships
of friends, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, father and mothers. It transforms every
relationship because all of them are just vague shadows of the real relationship which is us in
Christ at God’s right hand. That’s the basic relationship.
And that’s why you can see we miss so much. We miss everything when we are preoccupied with the
immediacy of these relationships. It’s oppressive. It’s the tyranny of the urgent. It’s the tyranny
of the nearness of the visible nature of all of us. That’s what so often dominates our lives. The
only relationship that really dominates our lives is this one – the one that God’s given us in
Ephesians 2:4. Let us pray.