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Description: Our Position with Christ
Communion: Our Position with Christ
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Let’s start this morning by turning in our Bibles to 1 Peter 1:18: “You know that you were ransomed
from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,
but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined
before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.
Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that
your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a
sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart. You have been born anew,
not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All
flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower
falls, but the word of the Lord abides for ever.’ That word is the good news which was preached to
you.” May God help us to live in the light of this each day. Amen.
Today is communion, and another name you know for it is the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. So I’d
just ask us to think again what is a sacrament and how are we meant to respond to it.
One of the definitions of sacrament is the outward physical expression of an inward spiritual grace.
So the outward physical expression is the bread and the wine. Then what is the inward spiritual
grace? Well, it’s the death of Jesus and all that that achieved for us. And I’d just remind you
again of that old timeline idea, where we are now 1998, and here is the death of Jesus (pointing to
the left). But of course we know that it didn’t take place there. It took place almost 2,000 years
ago at what we think really was probably about 26 A.D. Perhaps Jesus’ birth was maybe 6 B.C. and
probably he was crucified when he was about 33. So about 26 A.D. the actual physical crucifixion
took place here on the earth.
But then it’s not difficult to remember the many, many references such as the one we just read in 1
Peter 1. Maybe it’s best to look at it a few verses before the one I’d like to draw your attention
to. If you look at Verse 18 , it says, “You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways
inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the
precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the
foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”
So it’s stated there in 1 Peter 1:20 that Jesus was actually destined from before the foundation of
the world. So wherever the foundation of the world took place, Jesus was actually crucified before
the foundation of the world. So the real death of Jesus took place there.
Of course, that’s the same truth that is stated in Revelation 13:8: “The lamb that was slain from
before the foundation of the world.” And it’s the same truth that is expressed in Ephesians 1:4,
where it says, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.”
So what we can see is that Christ’s death actually occurred before the foundation of the world.
Before our life was lived out in this earth God foresaw what we would do and provided for it, and
saw it all — as we often say here — as one great moment. From the beginning of time to the end of
the time he saw it as a great eternal “now.” In that great eternal now he accepted that he and his
Son would bear all that we would bear, and all that we would cause ourselves to bear by our reaction
against him. He determined at that moment that he would create us in his Son and that his Son Jesus
would bear all the strains of our rebellion against God — our independence of him, and all the
consequences that would follow from that.
I discovered a quotation that I used in my article in the last newsletter, that Karl Barth had from
an old church father called Athanasius — one of the earliest of the church fathers. It’s quite
interesting that way back then he said, “As the apostle has said, the grace of God brought by the
Savior has appeared and has been conveyed to us by its coming. But it was prepared long before we
ourselves or even the world was in being. And the reason is indeed good and admirable, for it would
be unworthy of God to think of him as taking council to provide for us only later, less it should
appear as though our circumstances were not previously known to him.”
“The God of all things who created us by his word knew what would befall us better than we
ourselves, and he foreknew that after our first righteousness we should transgress his commandment
and that because of our disobedience we should be expelled from paradise. For that reason in his
loving kindness and goodness he prepared beforehand in his word by whom he created us, a provision
for our salvation.”
He puts it in kind of a builder’s term. At the end he says, “Now, a wise master builder when he
undertakes to build a house considers at the same time how he may repair that house should it fall
into decay after its erection. And weighs up the preparations that must be made for that purpose,
supplying the foreman with the materials necessary for such repair, and thus making all the
preparations for renovation even before the house is built. In like manner, the renewing of our
salvation is grounded in Christ even before we were created, in order that it might be possible for
us to be created afresh in him.”
So it’s that that is the heart of the sacrament that we are sharing this morning. That Christ was
crucified from before the foundation of the world, and actually the achievement of that crucifixion
shines right through all of time. Throughout all time, that crucifixion is having its effect.
So we’ve often said, in a tree are the rings that show the age of the tree. If you cut the tree at
any point you’ll be able to see the ring that runs right through the whole tree. So it is with
Christ’s death. It shines through every moment, through this moment, and through tomorrow, and
through the next day, and through the next day. All that God did in Christ from before the
foundation of the world shines through and is effectual in each one of our lives through every
moment in time right to the end when we are united with him and his Father.
Now, I think it would be good to look briefly at two of the things that were done in that death in
Jesus. They’re both in Galatians 6:14: “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our
Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Those are the
two things – the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. And the world is the glass
that will try to slip off your tray tomorrow in the café. The world is the customer that owes us
$700 and hasn’t paid yet. The world is every circumstance and event that moves in disorder and
seems to be out of the control of God’s will. That whole world was crucified in Christ.
God foresaw each one of our lives, foresaw all the things that we would do that would be independent
of him, foresaw all the things that everyone else would do that would be independent of him — and
therefore foresaw all the effects that that would have on each one of us and how that would attempt
to destroy his power and his victory in our lives. He destroyed that in Jesus from before the
foundation of the world.
The Red Sea was divided back then. God prepared that for Moses so that he could manifest that when
Moses stretched out his staff, or when the Israelites walked into the water. And the leper that
Jesus healed had his leprosy destroyed in Jesus from before the foundation of the world, so that
when Christ himself in Galilee laid his hand on the leper, that was manifested in time.
That’s part of what that means that the world was crucified to us. Not only the world in the sense
of its enticements and its temptations to us, but the cosmos, the whole disordered system that
appears to be under the control of the prince of this world and that seems to oppose God’s order and
peace in our lives. All of that was crucified in Christ.
I would go further and say that even though we are absolutely convinced that when we put a new sheet
metal screw into a piece of sheet metal where the old one has broken out and we eventually manage to
force it to go in there and to hold — that that all took place in Christ before the foundation of
the world. God gives us the feeling that it’s our mighty arm that is turning that screw and making
it work. Of course, you can see the work that Satan does is to try and persuade us that it is by
our own right arm that we have achieved those things. And of course, the more we yield to that kind
of deception, the more we begin to be dependent on our right arm and to judge things not as things
that have been crucified and made right in Christ, but as things that we have to by our own strength
So you can see it’s important to realize that the world was crucified to us in Christ. That Christ
himself in a moment in eternity lived our whole lives for us, foresaw everything that we would face
tomorrow and the next day, and overcame the world as he said. You remember he said, “Rejoice,
because I have overcome the world.” That’s why it’s possible for us to face the things that come
tomorrow and the next day, confident that there is only one outcome possible and that they have
already been dealt with.
Now the other event that occurred in Jesus’ death – is expressed in the last part of that verse,
“The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” I agree with you – it deals with us, in
the sense that we are no longer independent beings separate from God and separate from Christ. In
that sense Ernest O’Neill was crucified and was destroyed and no longer has any real existence. It
is Christ in this person. It is Christ in this body and in this mind whose life I am allowed to
share. It’s the same with Joe and Joanne. Certainly we have been crucified with Christ in that
sense — that we no longer have a separate existence. We therefore have no place for pride or a
sense of our own importance. We are delivered from those things.
But also, in another sense, I’d point out to you a verse in Isaiah Chapter 53. It’s that well known
chapter that – 800 years before Christ’s death, describes what took place in his death. You see in
Isaiah 53:4, “Surely he has borne our griefs.” See the little x, the footnote. Look down at the
bottom of the page at the x, “Or sicknesses.” Surely he has borne our sicknesses. “And carried our
sorrows.” Why? A little footnote y: “Or pains.” “Surely he has borne our sicknesses and carried
our pains.” In that sense too we were crucified with Christ.
You feel heavy physically. Not just in weight, but you feel heavy. Your body lies upon you.
You’re very conscious of the pain in your back, or you’re very conscious of the cold that you have.
Of course, worse things can take place if you have worse sicknesses, and from time-to-time we all do
have them. Christ bore those. Christ has borne every sickness, including old age. Christ has
borne them all. He has walked this life of ours right through to the end and he has borne all those
things, even what we call the natural physical weights and burdens. He has borne those so that
those have been dealt with by him.
So even though we may actually have physical symptoms that could, if it’s his good will, continue —
yet their power to prevent us doing what he wants us to do or living the way he wants us to live,
has been destroyed by him in Christ. And in that sense we ourselves have been crucified in Christ.
All our weaknesses, all our inadequacies, all the things that are weights upon us, those have been
crucified in Christ. So every event and every circumstance that opposes God’s order in our lives
that would prevent his will being fulfilled — that has all been dealt with. And all our own
personal disadvantages, inadequacies, mental, emotional and physical sicknesses and weaknesses have
been borne and crucified in Christ.
What does God say to us about the response that we should make to this? Does he say, “Try to
imagine how these things will affect you? Picture in your mind what benefits will flow to you from
these two facts that have taken place in my son’s death. Think about it. Try to make it your own.
Try to imagine. Try to feel the benefit of these things.” Does he say that? Does he say, “Look
into yourself and see if you can see how these things are beginning to change your own personal
experience. Indeed, try to feel in your own subjective experience how these things are making you
happier. Look in and see if you really believe these things.” Does he say that? No.
He says, “There’s only one response that faith makes to these things, and this is my command to
you.” I’ll show you. It’s Philippians 4:4, and it’s our God that says it: “Rejoice in the Lord
“I don’t know that I’ll have the money for the vacation this summer. God has arranged that
situation through his Son, so I am to rejoice.” “No, no, but I still need to work the money out and
I don’t think I’m going to be able to do it. And I better express to other people that I don’t
think I’m going to make it.”
No, God has destroyed that in Jesus. He has arranged that perfectly for you. Rejoice! Rejoice in
“Well, I can rejoice when I begin to see it. I’m not sure of what this person’s attitude to me is
and I think the relationship isn’t what it should be, and – I just have to think through this. I
can rejoice when it’s all settled.” No, rejoice in the Lord always.
“But that’s stupid. To just rejoice blindly is stupid when I can see these things are not settled.”
They are settled. Is God’s word not sure? Has Christ not died? Has he not risen? Has he not
said that he has overcome the world? Has he not said that he has dealt with all these things?
Rejoice in the Lord always. Rejoice in the Lord always.
And at every word that we utter, every protest that we make, every claim of, “Let’s be realistic.
Let’s see things as they really are,” is replied to by God’s word: rejoice in the Lord always.
There is only one person who does not rejoice and that is the person who does not believe that
Christ has died and that I have died with him, and that the world that surrounds me and at times
opposes me has died also with him. There is only one proof of the faith: rejoice in the Lord
always. And again, I will say, rejoice.
It’s so strange to write that in a letter. You know yourselves — if you were writing a letter,
it’s not normal to say it like that. Repeat it again, “But rejoice in the Lord always; again I will
say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance.” Your forbearance is acting according to what is
reality. That’s really the meaning of the Greek word. Acting in accordance with what is reality.
Let all men know your forbearance. The world, of course, thinks that forbearance is, “You’re so
patient. You’re so long suffering. You’re forbearing in this. Bear with me a little. Put up with
me. Endure my hesitation, or my procrastination.” That’s what the world means by forbearance.
The Greek doesn’t mean that. The Greek means: act in accordance with reality that God has crucified
the world and you in his Son Jesus. Let all men know your forbearance. Act in accordance with
this. The way to act in accordance with this is to laugh — is to rejoice. The Lord is at hand.
He’s right here. He has done it all and he’s going to take you through it. As if he knows us so
well. He says, “Now remember, have no anxiety.”
“Well Lord, I won’t have anxiety — certainly about a lot of things. As I look out on this week I
can see a lot of things that will go right.” But he says, “No, no have no anxiety about anything.
About anything — whatever it is. But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let
your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep
your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That’s the response that God says is right to what
this sacrament has achieved for us. That’s the only response that is right — rejoicing every day.
Let us pray.
Oh Lord, there arise so spontaneously in us all kinds of hesitations, and prevarications, and
protestations. But Lord, we see that there is open before us a bright land. A land of beauty, and
joy, and delight. A land where all the burdens have been lifted by you — where all the
difficulties have already been dealt with by you. A land where we walk with our eyes filled with
you and your beauty, and your presence, and your mighty power.
Father, we thank you for your goodness to us and we repent of our self-importance and our self-pity.
We see, Lord, that it is simply our desire to deify ourselves and exalt ourselves as people who are
going to tackle this world and this life by our own power. It is only that that makes us step back
from the child-like delight and joy to which you have called us.
Oh Lord, we would thank you. We would bow down to you and thank you today for Jesus. Thank you,
Lord Jesus, for your death. Thank you for the way you have lived each one of our lives right
through to the end and have foreseen every event and every circumstance and have borne them all
yourself. Passed them through your own heart, borne all the consequences of our willful actions,
and then taken the sting out of them all and modified them in your own mighty death, and through
your resurrection have raised them up and allowed them to come to us in physical reality here in
this present life. But you’ve done it in such a way they stimulate our trust and confidence in you
— rather than destroy us.
They drive us deeper into your heart. They enable us to yet again turn from this present life and
the power of our own flesh, and to turn our whole hearts and trust and confidence to you and your
strength. Lord, we thank you. We thank you for your goodness to us and your great love. And we
thank you especially this day that there’s nothing for us to do in this present life but live
rejoicing every day, and walk with a light heart, and do with delight the things you have given us
to do. Lord, we thank you. Amen.