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Description: Maturity and Fullness in Jesus
Maturity and Fullness in Jesus
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I don’t know how much you have really thought through what God faced the moment he, out of his love,
thought of having anybody else vaguely like himself. If you think of that for a moment, it was
quite a task to have people like himself, because he himself is free. You need almost to force your
mind round it. If you think of making another being that is like yourself and yet is free not to be
like you, because you are free. And if they are not free to choose whether they are like you or not
they are not free. And therefore what you’ve got, whatever you pretend or try to make yourself
think, they are really prisoners. They are really little robots.
It is really difficult for us to get our minds around it because we are really trying to think what
the divine mind thought. And yet we are “made in his image.” So we can have a vague idea of it.
But you can see it was very difficult. How were you going to make them free? And how were you
going to give them a real choice? And that is really why it all happened. Because God out of his
great love resolved to do that and to make us free and to give us a real choice and to make us
capable of choosing all that he is not. That is it! He was clean. He chose to give us the chance
of being dirty.
And not only that, but he knew he had to do it in such a way that we would still survive. So he had
to make us in such a way that we could be dirty and choose all that he wasn’t, and choose hatred and
chaos instead of love and peace, and yet be able to survive. Because, of course, there worked out
from him [God] everything that would destroy what he [God] was not. That was reality. He himself
filled all reality, and whatever was not like him would be destroyed. So he had to make us in such
a way that that would take place, so that he himself would eventually be preserved, but yet that we,
ourselves would survive the dreadful reaction of his purity against impurity.
And that is really why – I certainly for years missed it all, missed the whole point of my
existence, and partly because of Christmas was such a big thing for us, as it was, I think, for all
of you. Christmas was the great time. And we highlighted the fact that that is what distinguished
us from the Muslims and the Buddhists, that our God had become a man. And so I was certainly
absolutely sure that the first appearance of Jesus Christ was in that stable. And so as I little
boy that is what I enjoyed celebrating. And all of us, and me up to then later years, celebrated
the birth of Jesus. That was when God came to earth. And I was utterly convinced that that was the
first time that he came to earth. And that Jesus was just born then. That is what we said, that
Jesus was born on Christmas day. And of course I was absolutely blown away when I began to discover
those verses that I have shared with you through these recent years. I had known the one where
Jesus said, “Restore to me the glory that I had with you before the world was made,” but I wasn’t
really too sure what that meant. But then I knew, too, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word
was with God and the Word was God,” but I kind of got around that by saying, “That was the Logos,
and was the Logos Christ? I don’t know.”
And it was only gradually that it dawned upon me that, of course Christ was preexistent, that Christ
was with his Father before he came to earth in Bethlehem, and that he and his Father had a whole
life of their own before the world was made. And only slowly did I begin to understand Ephesians
2:10. I felt that I started with my mom. I just felt, “That was it.” And anything else was kind
of spiritualist. But I just felt I started my existence in my mother’s womb, and that is when I
came into existence.
And it was a long time before I realized that God had actually conceived of his Son and at the same
time conceived of me, and conceived me inside his Son as part of his Son, and that that was what
that verse meant, that “we are all God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus, back then, for good
works which God had prepared beforehand that I should walk in them.” And as I read the other verses
that talk about Jesus in Isaiah, that talk about Jesus being the Everlasting Father, I saw that I
was made in Jesus long before even the world was made. And God made the world even, so that I could
come in Jesus to this earth. And in the attempt to fill it and subdue it, would be able to see
eventually what the world would be like and what life would be like outside God.
And that is why God sent Jesus to the earth as the first born of all creation, and why old Blake’s
hymn is deeper than we ever dream, “And did those feet in ancient times, Walk upon England’s
pastures green.” Was the Son of God here long before he came, even, to Bethlehem?
And gradually I realized that is what God has done. He made us all in his Son, and then he made the
earth and he sent his Son to earth – oh in the shape of the first Adam with a free will so that he
could exercise his free will and do what he wanted to do. But when Cain exercised his free will and
killed Abel, he forced Christ within him to do that deed, and Christ in Abel bore the effects of
that deed. And so it began and went on until as the earth became more and more chaotic and shared
that whole rebellion against God, Christ himself bore all those sins moment by moment as they were
So it was with Bathsheba, and as David did the unthinkable by arranging for Uriah, Bathsheba’s
husband to be set in the front line of the army and then told the soldiers to withdraw so that he
would be killed, and so that David would be able to continue his relationship with Bathsheba. David
forced Christ within him to do that dreadful and cruel deed. And then in Uriah Christ bore the
effects of that as the sword pierced him and the spears pierced his body.
So that throughout the whole life of the world this beloved Christ has borne our sins, both the
doing of them and the effects of them. And so it has gone on down through the years. And really
when we celebrate his birth here, we are celebrating just a symbol of what actually did happen in
reality, that Christ in each one of us has borne all along the effects of man choosing other than
So this world is a whole picture of what life is like apart from God. And God himself had to bear
the effects of that. He could not conduct an experiment at arm’s length and allow a hell to be
created here on earth that would not touch him. He had to, himself, face the consequences of making
people who were free.
And so that is what we are doing here, and what God is now engaged in doing is, in the body of his
Son, getting us back to what we were made to be in his Son. And that is the sense of these verses
in Ephesians where it says, “And God gave pastors and evangelists and teachers for the building up
of the body of Christ.” And the great purpose of that building up of the Body of Christ, strangely
enough, was not just ministry, but for the – well you remember they do the best they can with the
Greek word in that Ephesians 4:12. They say, “For the perfecting of the saints.” And we know that
the verse means “rearranging the furniture in a house,” “rearranging the saints in the Body of
Jesus” as they were originally meant to be before they themselves did what they wanted, and tore the
Body of Christ apart. And so God is now engaged in rearranging us in Christ as we were at the
And so that is what he is doing with us, and that is why he has given pastors and evangelists and
teachers for the building up of the Body of Christ again, the putting of it together again, and the
rearranging of all of us saints in that Body.
And so that is why we come to the verse that we are at. It is, “So that we will all arrive at the
unity of faith.” “We will all arrive at a oneness of faith.” And last Sunday you remember I pointed
out to you that the word “pistis” is not, “So that we will all arrive at the beliefs that we have,
‘I believe in the Apostle’s Creed,’ ‘I believe in the Bible,’” a cerebral kind of assent to truth,
but “pistis” in the sense of trust, “That we would all come back into an inner personal tender trust
in our Savior.” So that when the storm comes upon the lake, you remember, when the storm comes upon
the lake we will not look at the Man in the bow of the boat and cry out, “Master, carest thou not
that we perish.” Or when we see the bank balance is down, or we have trouble with the noise coming
from the front end of the car, a little panic does not run through us, and we think, “This is
something out of control.” But we immediately turn to Jesus and rest in trust in him.
And that is what we said last Sunday, that God sees whether we really are in Jesus, and whether we
have really arrived at a unity or a oneness of faith, of tender trust in him, “He knows that!” in
the moments of panic.
So does panic ever fill your heart? Then God still has a deeper place for you in Jesus. But more
than that, he still has his Son trying to be himself in you. At the moment when you hear the click
of the engine in the car, Christ is in you looking up to his Father, thanking him that all things
are in his control. And he wants to do that in you, using your mouth and using your brain. And
when your little brain goes into panic mode, it causes again the pain and strain on Christ within
you that was caused to him on Calvary. And so there is a real sense in which every moment of our
lives Christ is either incarnate in us or ‘we’ crucify him afresh.
And so that is what it means when it talks about us coming into a oneness if faith. And that is
also what it means in – really it is the clause that we are studying this morning, that we will come
into a oneness in our knowledge of Christ as the Son of God, because that is what it says, “That you
will come to a complete knowledge, “epignoseos” is not just ‘knowledge’ but a ‘full knowledge’.”
And you will come into a full knowledge of Jesus as the Son of God; as the Son of God. Yes, that
you will come to know the cosmic Christ, that you will come to know him for yourself in your own
everyday life; that you will come to know his strength in the midst of your weakness. You will come
to know it personally, as opposed to more knowledge.
Some of us think, “Oh yes, we have to come into a full knowledge of Jesus. We will have to know all
about him; we will have to know all the details of his resurrection, all that is said about his
ascension, all that his humanity and it…” No, no! But that we will come into a full personal
knowledge of Jesus through experiencing the power of his resurrection. That is what Paul said,
“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection;” “That I may know the power of his
resurrection in the weakness of my own life.” And that is why God allows these things to come to
That is why we come into difficulties and trials and strains, so that Jesus, himself, would become
known to us. You actually only him when you feel his strength within you and you experience his
power coming up inside you and taking over where you couldn’t tackle it yourself.
And that is what it means for Jesus to become known to you and me. That is really what we are
involved in. That is what our life is all about. It is meeting again and again situations that we
cannot tackle ourselves, and then reaching out to Christ. That is why when your dad dies or your
mom dies, you know him. That is why. When everything is hopeless, when you have nothing left
yourself, then you see he alone exists and he alone is finally true, true and faithful and there
And so that is why we come into these situations. God has planned it all so that we would come into
a full knowledge of Jesus as the Son of God, not just as a man who did miracles, but as the Son of
God who is eternally inside us and in whom we eternal.
So it is something worthwhile, and it is what our life is about. And that is why it is such a
living dynamic thing, this living that we are doing. And he is in you, and he is in you waiting to
live fully through you. And you have the opportunity to do that, too.
Let us pray.