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Description: Manipulating God’s Power
Manipulating God’s Power
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Let’s begin with Ephesians 1:19c, “and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who
believe.” “Megaleio” is the word for greatness and “power” is “dunamis” that we used with our
magazine in Minneapolis. “Dunamis” which is dynamite, which is power; effectual power to bring
about actual results, and so that’s all enclosed in that saying there. It’s greatness of power
beyond anything that we could imagine or could comprehend, and yet it is a power that affects
results. And I don’t know if you’ve ever worked out quietly in your own mind the explanation of
reality that we’ve been sharing now for years together, but it might be good to look again at how
mighty is God’s power in each one of us at this moment, and what a complex creation we are at this
present moment, and what amazing power there is to bring us about as we are now, and to put us in
the position we’re in now.
And that requires you to consider for a moment what the Bible indicates happened at the very
beginning. That God first of all had his own son Jesus, and at that very moment that he begot his
own son out of his own heart and Spirit, at that very moment he conceived that you and I and all men
and women, would come into existence. At that very moment he conceived that. The very moment he
conceived of Jesus as his only son, that same moment he conceived of Jesus being the great human
being that we know as the human race. And inside him he conceived of creating thousands and
millions of beings that would be like his son. And you remember why he did that; because he knew
that if they were going to be like his son, they had to have the freedom of will that his son and he
himself possessed. And he knew that the moment he gave that to them, that same moment they could
turn on him and rebel against him completely, and the whole thing could go apart. So he made us all
inside his son, because he knew his son loved him, and his son would hold onto him, and would hold
onto all the people that were made inside him even as they were rebelling, and even as they were
walking their own way.
Now where it becomes quite difficult for us each to conceive is that God foresaw, therefore,
everything that he conceived of in that moment and I think you can see that that is reasonable. It
is reasonable to believe that the infinite God conceived all of this and understood what would
happen, and foresaw all that would come about. I mean it’s inconceivable — the opposite — which
is that he made something and he didn’t know what would happen to it and he waited to see. Well
then you’d have to say somebody else must be God who can control these things. But he himself, if
he makes it all, must understand fully all that he has created. And so he knew that Trish’s
grandmother would come into existence, that her great grandmother would come into existence, that
her great, great on, and on centuries, centuries, centuries back to Adam. He foresaw all that would
He foresaw what your great grandmother would decide when she was marrying. He foresaw what your
great, great, great grandfather would do when he heard the name of Jesus. He foresaw everything
that would ever take place in any of the lives that have been lived and that will be lived in this
world, and indeed in this universe, because we don’t know what else is beyond this planet, but God
conceived all those things and he lived through every one of them.
In that millisecond, and we need to see that; this isn’t a human being we’re talking about, we’re
not talking about someone with the fastest computer who is trying to work out the permutations of
what could happen, we’re talking of the infinite mind of God the Creator, who was able in a
millisecond to experience the blood of every Jewish child that was slaughtered in the camps. Who
was able to experience every pain that your father has felt. It’s very important for us to see that
our God, and that’s what the whole existence of Jesus shows us, that our God did not create
something that he himself would not take responsibility for. He did not create something that he
would not have to bear the consequences of. He is not like that. He is not a God who thinks, “Oh,
I’ll make a little man here, and I’ll see what he does.” That’s not the God that we know through
Jesus. This is a God who is touched by our infirmities; this is a God who weeps in his son when
So God foresaw every little thing that has ever been done by any of us, by any of our forefathers,
by anyone who has ever lived in the earth. He foresaw also all the events and the consequences that
would follow from those decisions. He foresaw the Hitler’s, and the Alexander’s, the Nero’s and the
Saint Teresa’s and he foresaw what each of them would do, all the decisions they would make, all the
things that would come about. He foresaw the roads, all the explorers, all the men who developed
nations and countries for good and for ill. He foresaw all those, but as well as that he
experienced them all inside his son Jesus.
So the Savior, when he appeared to suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane or on the cross was showing
almost nothing of what he himself had endured as all these things took place. He endured every
cancer, every disease, and every death. There wasn’t a little old lady in the city of Bombay that
has died that he has not died with her, and he has borne all those things. And that is only a
little of the power, because the greater part of the power is that inside his son Jesus he bore all
those things. And then his son, through the faith and love that he had for his Father and his
closeness to his Father, overcame all those. He turned them all around so that the life that your
grandfather, your great grandfather, my great grandfather lived, Christ lived, and he adjusted it to
all the things that had happened.
He worked it into the plan that God had, so that everything would come around the way our Father
wanted it to come around, and then he planted all of that inside every human being that has ever
lived. And then began the real work, because he began to work with the free will of each person
that has ever lived, and with our free wills. And without offending those free wills or tramping
them under his feet, he began to work all the mistakes and the errors that we make and that other
people make according to the purposes of his own will so that he would bring about the life that
could be accepted and could be worked into his plan in every human being. And so here we sit in a
remarkable position, which is why I brought to you the instance of the old photograph, because we
sit in this position where we have up to now seen the life that we have chosen to live, and partly
affected and modified by the life that Christ has lived for us. And now at this very moment, in
this very second we stand with the power of two lives within us; the power of the life that Christ
bore in his own body on the tree, and bore the destruction of by his own Father’s power, and we live
also with the perfect life that he planned to live in each one of us and that is within us.
And so it’s a bit like the old trams that we had in Belfast, and probably like some of the trams
that you’ve seen or the trains that you’ve seen. It’s as if we’re going down a track and there are
points, we call them, where the line switches. We talk about switching the points onto the northern
line or to the left of the southern line, and there are points again, and again in our lives. You
might say every second there’s a point; there is Christ’s perfect life that he has lived for us, and
there is the modified life that he has to bear for us, and we can switch onto one or the other.
That’s the mighty power. That’s the incredible power that God has put in each one of us so that we
don’t actually have to do the thing, we simply have to switch to the way that Jesus has already
lived for us. We simply have to choose. That’s it, it’s such a little thing, it’s just choosing.
It’s not at all having to face the consequences of our choice, strangely enough, or having to say,
“How are we going to bring this about if we do choose?” No, all we have to do is choose, because
the power to do these things is in Christ, and that power is within us, and so all of that is
available to us each second of our lives.
So in a sense every time any of us draws back because we think, “No, we cannot do it,” we aren’t
even in reality when we say that, because the whole thing has already been done by our Father. We
are simply saying, “Yes,” to what Jesus has planned to do in us from the very beginning, or we’re
saying, “Yes,” to the modified life that he has had to live in order to bring all things according
to council of his Father’s will.
So it is overwhelming when you think of the immeasurable greatness of power that God has put in each
one of us. And you really don’t help your faith much by this reflection, because our faith is built
just by God’s word. but it can in a way receive a little confirmation when you think of the
decisions that you’ve made and you think of the things you’ve done. There aren’t too many of them
that you look back on and think, “Oh, I did that by the mighty exercise of my own strength and
ability.” You don’t. Most of the things that you’ve achieved, you’ve just chosen it and it’s kind
of come pretty naturally. It’s just gone along; it’s come about without any tremendous effort.
There’s been effort, often effort that wasn’t needed, and effort of worry and anxiety. And much of
our effort I’m sure you’ll admit has been wheel spinning, and has been a lot of fuss, and has not
actually contributed to the result. So I think we can see in our own lifetime that though we know a
lot about effort, yet we would say that most of the things that have come about in our lives that
have been successful and pleasant and have been permanent have just come, they’ve just happened.
So there is evidence to our intellect and to our own reflection and analysis that there is a power
that has actually brought all these things about, and all we’re doing is saying, “Yes,” or “No,” to
that way, so we undoubtedly have our free will. But both ways in fact, have already been lived by
Jesus, and the power to do these things is already within us, is already available, it’s already
been done. So that’s, I think, a little of what “the immeasurable greatness of God’s power in us
who believe” means. It’s a power that has already seen everything, lived through everything and
then arranged two ways for every human being on earth to go every second of their lives.
You can see yourself that Satan’s only weapon is to paint the whole thing as a fearful enterprise,
and to deceive us into thinking that somehow we have to do this ourselves. Somehow or other we have
to bring this about through our own effort — that’s the only power he has to do that. But once we
believe reality that God has in fact outlined the whole thing, then our life becomes a simple matter
of choosing and the power is there to do that. That’s why the verse runs, “work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God that worketh in you both to do and to will of
his good pleasure.” It is God who does it. Let’s pray.
Dear Father, we are sorry for the self importance that we show in this regard. We apologize to you
Lord, for the gross egotism that convinces us that we are the ones that bring these things about.
We are the ones that have to mightily withstand evil and promulgate good. Lord, we see that our
life is much easier than that, and that you our Father, have foreseen all the contingent events and
circumstances. You have foreseen all the choices and decisions, and yet while respecting our free
will and preserving it, you have worked these things according to the council of your will. And you
have borne the pain and the agony of all these choices, and all their effects on other human beings,
so that you have preserved for us still a free choice.
You have miraculously by your own power created us in such a way that we still have a free and open
choice that we make day-by-day, and moment-by-moment. So Lord, we realize again that all we do is
flick the switch up or down, and accordingly the mighty power flows, and the light or the heat
comes. So Lord, we thank you that is the life that you have given to us and there is nothing that
we cannot do that you want us to do. Lord, we thank you for that. We thank you too for the gentle
and kindly intimations of immortality that you give us when you put into us certain intuitions and
certain impressions of things that we think you want us to do. Lord, we thank you for that.
Thank you for your kindly gentleness and for allowing us to see a little of what you want to do, and
to have that little part of saying yes to it and Father, thank you for the immeasurable greatness of
your power in us who believe.
And now the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy
Spirit be with each one of us now and ever more. Amen.