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Description: Reality of Christ Living in Us
The Reality of Christ Living in Us
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Please turn to Ephesians and we’ve reached Ephesians 1:13. You can imagine Paul up to Verse 12
talking about us. You can see that starting in verse 3, “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,
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless
before him. He destined us in love to be his Sons.”
Then he goes on down like that to verse 12, “We who first hoped in Christ have been destined and
appointed to live for the praise of his glory,” and then he turns around and he says, “In him you
also,” you Gentiles, you members of the body here in Ephesus, in whom 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.” So there is that change that Paul turns round and talks to the Gentiles. What he
has been saying all this time is he’s been describing what God did before the world was ever made.
That’s the bit that I think is probably new to us and probably that wasn’t preached in that – as
clearly probably, even those of us who were at Campus Church.
We knew that God had done many things in Christ, but I don’t know that we were very clear about the
fact that he had it all arranged before we ever hit this earth. The result was that all of us felt,
“Yes, we were born here on earth but now we have to work together with God’s Spirit to try to make
us what he wants us to be.” The result of that is that it produces a lot of effort, and those of
us in the Catholic Church would certainly know the whole burden of works, but really those of us in
the Protestant Church were involved in the same thing with praying right, and reading the Bible
right, and witnessing right, and all the things that we felt we ought to do to show our faith.
In reality the truth is, as Paul outlines here, that the whole thing had been done, “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, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we
should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his Sons,” way back then.
And so the whole emphasis of those first 13 verses is that God did this whole thing, he set it all
up before we ever hit the earth. Of course it takes us awhile to get hold of that, because we
still feel, “No, I mean, there’s something here that we have to do to struggle up from where we are
to where we ought to be.” It’s very hard for us to grasp the massive power of God’s infinite mind.
But in fact, the truth is that God foresaw everything that you would do, Sheila, everything that you
would do. Marty, everything you would do. Trish, everything that I would do, he foresaw it all from
the very beginning. Which is very reasonable, I mean we’ve talked about that before, it is very
reasonable to believe that, “If God doesn’t know, who does know? We’re in real trouble.” If he
doesn’t know I think the even old Einstein says, “I do not believe the Creator rolls a dice.” So
even Einstein from his theological view point makes it very clear, “Look the God who designed all
this universe so carefully certainly does not roll a dice about any part of it.”
Yet there is often in us the feeling, “Oh well, wait a minute, so that we could have free wills, he
must roll a dice. He must kind of wind us up and then see, ‘Which way will they go? Oh, ok their
going that way, I didn’t expect that.’” Well of course, that’s our belief as to the only way to
preserve free will, because of our very limited minds and very limited love.
Often we can’t imagine having enough love to let somebody put a sword into our side. But in fact of
course, God has that kind of love and God is able to foresee everything that we would ever have
done. Yet he is able so to work things that our free will is preserved even as he, in his infinite
mind, is able to see what that free will, will choose. And indeed he has made – that is part of the
miracle of his creation.
So God has done all that already for us, so that we come really with everything that we need.
That’s the truth of it, we come to earth with everything that we need. We come to earth with a mind
that is capable of not making mistakes, and we come to earth with Christ within us who has born the
consequences of our mistakes, and has worked them round according to the council of his Father’s
will. So we come not only with a mind that can avoid sin, and avoid mistakes, but we come due to
God’s great kindness to us.
We come with Christ within us, an antidote for all our sins, and all our mistakes. Not only an
antidote for all our sins and all our mistakes, but one who has borne the consequences of those
mistakes, because that had to be borne. God could not be real and just wipe out the mistakes and
wipe out the consequences. God could not be real and wipe out, just say, “All the people that
Hitler murdered, they weren’t murdered.” That wouldn’t be reality that would be a game, it would
not be God’s own mind and character. God had to bear the pain that all those people bore in order
to be able to wipe out the effects of that and to bring people to himself.
So we come with everything that we need. It’s very hard for us to realize that and that’s really
what Paul is saying to the Ephesians. He’s saying, and we’ll go into a little more detail, he’s
saying, “In him you also who have heard the word of truth.” It’s just useful maybe – one of the
benefits of the Greek is it can force you out of your miserable little thought patterns. And the
fact is that “logon” is the word. It the accusative of “logos,” that’s the word there used for
“Word.” In fact “aletheia” is the word for truth. And actually, the meaning that is given in the
dictionaries for aletheia” is, “Of what has certainty and validity, of the real state of affairs
especially as divinely disclosed truth. Of the concept of the gospel message as being absolute
true, of true to fact statements.”
So really what we’re saying here is that you’ve heard and “logos” of course, is reasoning or
explanation, you who have heard the explanation of reality. And that’s what we’re saying this is
that this is the explanation of reality, this whole truth that God had his Son Jesus, his only
begotten Son, and as he had him he planned that he would be the first-born among many brethren.
So, at that same moment he created us in Christ Jesus for good works which he prepared beforehand
that we should walk in them. And at that same moment he foresaw what we would do, and so he saw
that Christ himself would have to bear us and all our doings inside himself and God committed
himself to bearing that pain with Jesus.
Now it seems incomprehensible to us because we have the feeling, “Ah, I’d spit them out, I’d get rid
of them. If this were my son and all these vermin were eating away at his insides, I’d spit them
out. Or, if they were doing things that I did not want, and they were doing it inside my own dearly
beloved son, I’d get rid of them.” The Father did not do that, and he has still not done it, and he
still has us inside his Son. We could in fact do the things that we have done, and yet still have
life, and still have existence, and still be within his love. That’s what he did in the beginning
which is part of that – those verses in Ephesians 2 mean, “That God who is rich in mercy out of the
great love with which he loved us, even when we were yet sinners, made us alive together with Christ
and raised us up and made us sit with him in the heavenly places.”
He even while we were destroying his Son, he allowed his Son to bear that destruction, and then to
bear the pain of us being recreated even while we were yet sinners, even when we were destined to
come to earth 500, 10,000 years later and do these things that he had borne the pain of in his Son.
That’s the explanation of reality, and that’s why in this present situation, we have arrived.
We’ve arrived. That’s the explanation of reality, that’s what reality really is, God in Jesus has
borne all the things that we have done and has negated them through Christ bearing the consequences
of them. So we are back where we started at the beginning. So we come — Wordsworth is right —
we come trailing clouds of glory from heaven.
We come here made new completely. That’s what Paul means when he says, “You’ve heard this
explanation of reality,” and then he goes on and he says, “The gospel of your salvation.” Again
it’s really the same truth – the old Greek helps. “Euaggelion” is undoubtedly means “well”, or
“good.” This “aggelion”, is the same word for angel, and it’s “message.”
Actually in a way, in a strange way it kind of dulls our minds when we translate it gospel because
it’s really the good news. It’s the good news of our deliverance and “soteria” is the word there
that is – always we translate it as salvation, but it is actually a rescue. It actually means to
rescue or deliver. And so Paul was saying, “You’ve heard the explanation of reality, the good news
of your deliverance of your rescue,” and of course that’s the truth of it.
At this very moment God has his arms out to you and me and says, “Of course, come in my son. Of
course, I have everything done. Everything is done, that’s all you need. Everything is done, I
have borne all that you have done. Yes, you see the pain it cost me and in my Son in Calvary. I
have borne that, but you are mine. I have never let you go. I have you in my arms. Come now, here
sit with me and my Son.” That’s the good news of our rescue. That’s the good news of our
deliverance. He’s saying, “That’s what you’ve heard, you’ve heard the explanation of reality, and
you’ve heard the good news of your deliverance, and your rescue. Now,” he says, “You were sealed.
You believe in him, you believe in Jesus, and you were sealed with the Holy Spirit.”
Its interesting maybe just to point out that all these words are what they called aorist tense.
“Akousantes” is the aorist, it looks like that. The aorist in Greek you know is an action in past
time that is completed, so it means having believed. So he’s saying, “You’ve heard, you have heard
that’s done. The explanation of reality. The good news of your deliverance. And you have believed
in him, and everything.” I don’t know what you thought, but I used to think the old gospel
direction, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved.” You know, “Believe in him,”
and it was just believe him. But of course you can see the “in” has real meaning for us, because we
have no life apart from him.
I mean, it is like Jesus and there are you, there am I, and there’s Trish, and there’s Marty,
there’s Irene, and there’s Myron and each of us is in Christ, we’re part of him. So, we believe in
him not just in the sense of, “Oh yeah I believe him. I believe what he says.” Or, “Oh yeah, I
believe he’s real.” But believe in him, “Every action that I do is in him. I not only believe in
him, believe that he’s real, believe that he’s the Creator of the Universe, believe that he’s the
master of everything, believe that he’s what keeps my heart beating at this moment, but I’m actually
in him when I believe.” So our whole life is encompassed in him.
Of course, the reason we get nervous, or anxious, or worried is we dumb people think we’re out there
and we have to somehow get into him. And of course, the reality is we’re in him and we’ve never
been out of him. We were created in him and we were redeemed in him and everything that has
happened to us has happened to us in him. So it’s in him that our whole life is lived.
We get anxious and worried when we imagine that we can somehow stand out here apart on our own or we
treat ourselves as ourselves. I mean, that’s – it’s obvious why that occurs, because the rest of
the world thinks that way. And whether it’s Tony Blair, or whoever it is, everybody thinks of
themselves as individual little beings outside somehow in a Darwinian evolutionary system and we’re
little creatures on our own. But there’s no excuse for us actually, because we have heard the good
news of our deliverance. We have heard the explanation of reality and actually everything that we
do is in him.
When you believe that, when you think this through yourselves and you think through this whole
reality, “I see, you mean, God made me in Christ so I’m actually part of him? And, he has let me
stay in Christ, in fact, he saw what I would do in Christ and it was his plan to keep me in Christ
and it’s been his plan all along to bear what I did in Christ and yet to hold me in despite that and
to love me, and to keep me whatever I did.” As that begins to dawn on you, there gradually comes
upon you a different spirit. Your whole being relaxes and you begin to sense, “This is true. I’ve
really arrived. My Father does love me. Not only does he love me but he’s foreseen everything that
would happen in my life so he knew that I would be here today and he knows why he put me here.
Even if I make errors tomorrow, or mess things up, he has foreseen that.” Gradually there comes a
great sigh of relief and it’s like a different spirit comes into your heart.
That’s part of what is meant by that statement. It’s just we somehow can take all the reality out
of it by making it theological and we can get into all kinds of complexities over what it means to
be sealed with the Holy Spirit, but actually the truth is whenever you examine this explanation of
reality, and you see that it is true, there just comes into your whole being a relaxation.
It’s a bit probably, like being in a deep steam bath or in a hot bath, suddenly all your defenses
can be let go. All your worries go, all your anxieties, because your father has it all planned and
he has everything arranged and there comes into you a spirit of gentleness and a spirit of
kindliness, and a spirit of joy, and peace, and freedom from worry and anxiety. That’s part of
what it means to be sealed with the Holy Spirit.
It’s probably – even though it’s been pictured by us in the New Testament as God coming along beside
you or the apostles coming along and putting their hands on you and something mechanical happening
or something emotional happening, In reality it all flows together. It just flows out of this
reality. It just flows out of the truth situation. It’s a real situation. So it’s Paul
encouraging us to see that you’ve heard this explanation of reality. You’ve heard the good news of
your deliverance. Just live in that and there will come upon you a different spirit, a holy Spirit,
a spirit of humility and kindliness, a spirit of gentleness, a spirit that is free from anxiety, and
frenzy, and worry. A spirit that is free from driving ambition, just a spirit of kindly love, and
that will begin to pervade your life, and that actually is the part of the sealing of the Holy
Spirit and obviously is what the world needs, but that’s an incidental. It’s what God has for us
this morning. Let us pray.