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Description: Predestination and Relationships
Predestination and Relationships
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I don’t know if you are aware of the major crisis that physicists are facing at the moment. They all
think it’s going to turn out to be an imaginary one but they’ve found a particle that goes faster
than the speed of light. If that is so it would throw Einstein back because he said that the speed
of light was as fast as anything could go in the universe. In one city the particle reached its
destination in 69 billionth of a second faster than any other city so they are basing it on that and
wondering about the accuracy of their measurements.
It’s a whole world that our grandparents didn’t know at all. Our parents just began to suspect it
with Einstein’s theory of relativity. But there is a whole world of time and space. How one affects
the other gives us a glimpse of infinity and perhaps eternity. That was an eye opener for the whole
world. And that’s now the kind of atmosphere that we live in.
Someone has said that Carl Barth is the theologian that has brought theology into that space age,
where you talk about time but also you talk about eternity and you relate them to each other. Barth
is the only one that has really seen the past in the light of present and the present in the light
of the past and is able to jump back and forth between them. I can believe that because he has
brought to me a whole view of scripture that is beyond what I had before.
It’s not because it’s not in scripture but because it’s right here. This book is in a different
category from all other books in the Bible. Other books do talk about eternity. But this describes
the present situation with remarkable clarity and insight. It gives us a whole picture of the
possibilities that have now become normal among us. Because I’ve kept talking about them, you’ve
kept thinking about them. The whole realm of God has seen everything before it ever happened and
what we are seeing is a slow motion replay of what has already taken place in Christ. But it all
comes particularly from . I’ll show you the affect of that on the verse that we are studying at the
1:1-4 – “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are also faithful
in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. That seems
just like an ordinary letter. Then he continues, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” And
that’s where you first begin to sense he’s going into a new realm here – into the heavenly places
— “even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”.
That sets you right back. It starts off as an ordinary letter to the and suddenly Paul is saying,
“even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” Apart from the fact you are
wondering, “How does he know” the whole possibility of it is just startling.
“That we should be holy and blameless before him…..and then he keeps on.
1:4-7 — “He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of
his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. “ And
it’s Paul taking you where you have never been before. It’s taking you into the place where God was
before there ever was an earth. And here he is telling us what God was thinking and doing.
He destined us and then he goes on, 1:7-9, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the
forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us.” And
of course you are wondering — lavished — He has certainly done this since I was born, giving me
parents and food. But he’s implying that God lavished this upon us before we were born.
1:9-12 –“For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according
to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things
in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” In other words he’s saying that God brings things
about in accordance to what he has planned. In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes
all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and
appointed to live for the praise of his glory.”
And this lifts you right into a different realm. Do you mean I was meant to be here centuries ago?
In Him you also …. and then he gets to the present. Like Barth he goes back and forth in time.
Ephesians 1:13-14 – “In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your
salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the
guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
So, it’s a whole new realm. And then in Chapter 2 he carries it right on. Ephesians 2:1-3
“And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked,
following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is
now at work in the sons of disobedience.” And normally you’d think he means before they became
Christians they were dead in their sins. Except that he spent his whole time implying to us that
everything has already taken place in eternity. And you begin to wonder which realm Paul is talking
Ephesians 2:3 –“Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of
body and mind….” And it’s there they you think he is talking more than just the past month. “…and so
we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
Ephesians 2:4-5 – “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.” And then your mind goes back to chapter 1 and verse 5.
“He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ.” And verse 4 “even as he chose us in
Him before the foundation of the world.” And you begin to sense that Paul is talking about more than
Ephesians 2:4-7 – “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, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been
saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
And then you say, “Well those people who are listening to him are not raised up. They are down
there so what does he mean? Does he mean that we are actually raised up?”
And that’s what comes home to you. He’s saying, “You do seem to be here but here’s where you really
are. “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, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and
raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Those are all past tenses so there is no way you can say the Paul means we are going to be raised
up. No, he’s saying that you were raised up. They probably all wanted to raise their hands and say,
“But I’m here!” But they got the message and realized that what they were here was only an
2:6 -10 – “that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness
toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own
doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should
walk in them.”
And you realize that this man is talking about the true situation that is outside this world – in
eternity. That’s our position. Now that’s the basis of all that Paul then says in later chapters
You can often read verses like “submit yourselves to one another” as an ethical treatise. That’s
what we are supposed to do and this is another ethical letter that Paul is writing. No. Paul is
saying in the light of your real situation this is what you will be. If you grasp and take hold and
accept that you have been raised up and made to sit with Christ in the heavenly places – if you
accept that that is your situation now, then this is the way you will live your life. This is the
way you will relate to other people. And that’s how you get to 6:5.
Ephesians 6:5—“Slaves, be obedient (not seek your freedom) to those who are your earthly masters,
with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ.” And it was Paul who wrote to
Philemon and urged him to take back Onesimus, (the run away slave). He said, “Receive him back not
as a slave but as a brother.” So Paul was certainly in no doubt that slavery was not God’s perfect
will for mankind. And he was ready enough to say to a brother Christian to receive Onesimus not as a
slave but as your brother.
But here he is saying to the slaves, “be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear
and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ.” In other words, he’s saying to them, “you have
been raised up and made to sit with him in the heavenly places.” That’s your position. That’s who
you are. That’s where you are. That’s your real situation. Now, in the light of that be as Christ
would be to your masters. Be a good slave. Be a Christ-like slave – one who knows he is not
dependent on his master for his position. He is not dependant on his master for his reputation, for
his safety or his security. He is free from all of that. And you are free to be to the master what
will bring him a sense of God’s order and God’s peace and beauty.
What came home to me as I began to try to let God’s word speak to my heart was that’s the reality of
our situation here with each other and with our customers. Paul says, “From now on we know no one
from a human point of view.” And part of what enables other people to sense the beauty of Heaven is
when we ourselves are actually living in Heaven and we are actually treating them in the light of
what reality is. We are treating them as people who have been brought from death to life, people
from whom the old has passed away and the new has come. We see them as God has made them in his son,
as God has raised them up to sit with him in the Heavenly places and we deal with them in the light
of that and we treat them like that.
And when we do that they sense something different. If we’re just imitating it then we’ll come over
as fawning people who are just out to try to make them like us because we are Christians. Or, we
want them to like us because we want a sale. But if we are living in reality in our minds, actions
and attitudes it will come over to them as something they can’t quite understand. They’ll think,
“This person has a nice attitude to me anyways. They seem to respect me more than I really ought to
be respected. And yet, on the other hand they are not holding me off at a distance. They seem ready
to treat me as a real friend and be real with me.”
Something of that comes over when we are living and behaving in reality at that moment. And it’s the
same amongst us. I don’t know if you have glimpsed it but there are levels of honesty even amongst
close friends like us. In a funny way you can only be as honest as you are. And a person can only be
as honest with you as you are. There is a certain level that they can’t touch if you’re not touching
It affects even situations like our own where we would think we believe the same way. In a rough
crude kind of way we do but there is a fine, delicate, kindliness and graciousness that Christ is
able to express through us when we are really living in reality. It comes when we’re constantly
aware that I am at the Father’s right hand and the confidence that that brings flows through you and
often deals with some of the self-defensiveness that there can be in all of us. When we are not
really confident, we defend ourselves.
I don’t know if you’ve got hold of the importance of a clean heart – that you are what you seem to
be on the outside and there isn’t another level of dishonesty underneath. A person dealing with you
senses that. They sense that this is honesty. This is deep truth the whole way through. It seems to
me when the heart is not settled in reality there is a kind of a haze in front of you.
We used to joke about actresses being photographed through cloth so that you wouldn’t see their
blemishes. It’s if there is a cloth or filter in front of us so that the person can’t really see us
clearly and plainly. That is what is affected when we are not living where God has placed us. We are
living down here with a lot of the fears of what this person will do or what this person will do if
I let them in on me. Or, we fear what will happen if I take this action. So there is a great deal of
the furtive animal “flight” kind of fear that covers all your relationships. It stands between
another relationship and you.
When that is all clear, there is just a person who is at God’s right hand, settled that he or she is
there. They are settled as to what their many blemishes are, settled as to what the old self is like
that has been crucified and what the new self is beginning to be like. When there is a sense of
reality there in that realm then it changes our relationships here in our realm. It changes it
immensely in regard to our customers. Out there — as Tennessee Williams said in his play, “Cat on
a Hot Tin Roof” —there is mendacity.
Out there is lying, deception, pretense, bluff and all kinds of things. An honest person is one who
has let God’s Spirit work with them at a deep level of their own security, image and sense of
significance. They have allowed the H.S. to plumb down those depths and get to the ground of their
hearts. And when an honest person comes into an atmosphere of medacity then a clean and clear
honesty shines through. It is the Holy Spirit of truth. He is able to express Christ through us.
That’s what Paul is touching when he says, “slaves be obedient to your masters.” That means they
were to be perfect slaves to their masters. Then he even goes further, “with fear and trembling”.
In other words, they were to give them all the respect and obedience that an ordinary slave would
give them but give it as unto the One who is really there.
That’s the key to it all. The person you deal with is really as the Savior said, “When you give
water to one of them you give it to me.” It’s Christ. You’re dealing with Christ when as a slave you
deal with your master. Because that master is part of God’s workmanship in Christ. And even though
his old self may be the one you are seeing, he has been given also a new self. And it seems that
when you have that faith and sense of reality then it seems that you actually speak to the new self
in that person.
That’s actually what happens with a customer. You can be dealing with the most awkward, ornery
person that you can think of and yet when you speak from the place of reality where you are
dwelling, something comes through to them in such a way that it brings softness to them and calls
out their new self. It calls out the body not made with hands, eternal in the heavenlies that is
there waiting for them. In a remarkable way you end up ministering to them spiritually, really not
knowing what you are doing. Because the Holy Spirit is working things in their spirit that you can’t
even tell. And that is happening whenever you live in this position of reality.
It seems to me it’s settled before you go anywhere near the door of the store. It’s your own
attitude, your own present relationship with Jesus and your own heart. Is your heart rising in
praise of Him or are you preoccupied as everyone else is with all the details and paraphernalia of
ordinary living? It depends on where your mind and your spirit is as to how the Holy Spirit will be
able to transmit that to the other person.
It seems to me it, in this example of slaves, it would take down the middle partition or wall
between them and draw them together even as slave and master, yet saving and preserving all the
temporary, social relationships that they had. It would do that but also it would bring healing into
a person’s life. It can minister healing so that you can walk out of a store and the person
themselves have received something from Christ’s touch even without knowing that it’s Christ.
Because wherever Christ and all his spirit of truth comes there is reconciliation, renewal and
That applies to us. Wherever there is a little curve ball it throws us off and contaminates
everything. Wherever there is straight love coming from you in your position at the Father’s right
hand in Christ then there is life. It’s not just a matter of a concept and you remembering it. No,
you are either there or not. That’s why true real praise issues from a heart that is actually in the
situation and experiencing it. It’s not conceiving of it in the mind or trying to remember it as a
good thought that will help them to be what they are supposed to be. It is actually you being there
and that’s what enables the Holy Spirit to speak through you.
So, it’s good to see that this verse 5 is not just a kind of a cold command – “slaves be obedient to
your earthly masters with fear and trembling in singleness of heart as to Christ.” It’s not just
something that you practice. This is the only way you can be if all that he has said about our
position at the right hand of God is true. If we are in that position, if that’s our real situation,
then this is what we will be like.
I was able to see with my own miserable self that it was something that was easy to forget. It was
easy to not live in reality the more you got into the everyday life you had to deal with – going to
Home Depot and ordering something for the fence, or ordering food for lunch, dealing with people in
regard to the jewelry that they bought. It’s very easy to allow that to be the important thing and
foremost in your mind, rather than your position at God’s right hand in Jesus. I can see when you
allow one to displace the other then it’s very easy to sink into, “Good morning, lovely morning
isn’t it etc. etc.” The whole tone of voice is business and what we have to get done. We’re a
successful company and we want you to be a successful company and that whole atmosphere that fills
the world – concerned primarily with commerce and getting what you need from the world.
It seems to me when you are living moment by moment at the right hand of God then there is a
softness in your tone (a right softness, not a slavish super submissive attitude) and yet a firmness
in your dealing. So it’s something that only the H.S. can bring about. But that’s the purpose that
God has in prompting Paul to write this letter in this way. He’s saying this is your situation and
in the light of that situation here’s what is normal in your relationships with people. Here’s the
normal attitude of husbands to wives, of fathers to children of slaves to masters. This is what it
will be like. Of course it contrasts tremendously with the normal attitude of the world. Let us