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Description: Servant to God or Circumstances?
Servant to God or Circumstances?
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
We’ve tried together to understand what took place in our Savior before the world was created, but
it is difficult because you’re talking about infinite things. So I think we all understand parts of
it, but parts of it are really quit deep. One of the things that this verse that we’re studying
today brings out is that Jesus, for at least a millisecond, was – and it’s not a good use of the
word “just” here, but it brings out part of the meaning, Jesus was just the divine Son of God. That
at least for a millisecond it helps us to understand it in those terms.
We’ll understand it better when time has gone, but at least for a millisecond Jesus was the divine
Son of God. And that’s what he’s referring to in John 17:24, “Father, I desire that they also, whom
thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy
love for me before the foundation of the world.” And that’s what Jesus is referring to; the glory
that he had with his father even before the foundation of the world in that millisecond when he was
just the divine Son of God.
And of course, that was only for a millisecond because then took place what is described in
Colossians 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first- born of all creation.” Then in
the next millisecond he became the first-born of all creation, “For in him all things were created,”
and in him everything was created by God, all of us, “In heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him
and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
So in that second millisecond he became the first human being, the great human being. And all of us
were created in that millisecond inside him, and then what is described in Romans 3:23 took place.
It was much later in physical time but in that millisecond in eternity, just in that same
millisecond Romans 3:23 came to be, “since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All
of us rejected God inside Jesus and sinned, and at that moment became guilty before God and had to
be destroyed by God.
And in that moment 2 Corinthians 5:21 took place inside Jesus, “For our sake he made him to be sin
who knew no sin,” and at that moment the sin took place inside Jesus and Jesus himself was made to
be sin even though he and his own divine self knew no sin, and indeed in his own human self knew no
sin. Even though he himself as a human being was sinless, yet inside him all of us sinned and so he
knew that sin, he experienced every part of it. That’s why the New Testament lesson that we read
says what it says in Hebrews 2:9b “so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one.”
At that moment he experienced the death that we deserved and so all of us experienced it in him; he
tasted death for everyone of us.
Hebrews 2:10, “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many
sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.” So Jesus, in
order to bring many sons and daughters to glory, had to taste death for everyone of us. Verse 11,
“For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin.” Himself, “That is why he
is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I will proclaim thy name to my brethren, in the midst
of the congregation I will praise thee.’ And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.’ And again, ‘Here
am I, and the children God has given me.’” Which is why we’ve referred at times to that passage in
Isaiah where Jesus is called the eternal Father, because in a real sense you and I were created and
born in him, we’re crucified in him, and then we’re raised by him into glory.
The importance of that is for today’s verse in Ephesians 1:19, “and what is the immeasurable
greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might.” Then verse
20, “which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right
hand in the heavenly places.” And the important thing there is to see that when Jesus rose from the
dead by the obedience of his own humanity, he raised all of us with him from the dead. And
justified as he was by his obedience and trust in God, was made to sit at his right hand in the
heavenly places and he took us with him into that position. So it’s useful to see that the glory
that Jesus had with the Father is different from the glory that he received when he rose from the
The glory that he had with his Father was just the glory of — and I know “just” is an inadequate
word — was just the glory of the divine Son of God. But the glory that he received when he was
raised from the dead was the glory of his own obedient humanity and our glory also. It was a human
glory; it was the glorifying of his humanity. The first was the glory of his divine nature. The
second was the glory of his human nature, and his human nature is us, which is why we are called his
So it’s quite useful to see that there is a difference between the glory that Jesus had with the
Father before the world was, and the glory that he received through his own obedience and faith in
his Father when he was raised with us. And it brings out the fact that we were with him when he was
raised by his Father to the right hand of God and that is where we are, because the only place we
exist is in him. It’s in him that we hold together. Our atoms and our neutrons would not hold
together in these bodies if we were outside Jesus. But we were in him, which is why you can see the
Bible lays such a salvation on faith, because faith does not create something, faith accepts what is
truth. And so when we talk of people being outside Christ in fact they’re not outside Christ,
except if they’re rejecting that because of their own lack of faith and living a lie.
So I think it helps to bring home to us that we are not involved in a pretending game. We are not
involved in an imagination game here. We’re not involved in a bit of Orwell’s double think, “Well
I’m really down here, but I know I’m really up there.” No, there’s only one place we are according
to these words, and that is that we are in Jesus at God’s right hand. And what we’re seeing here is
what I’ve said before; an old photograph of what we would have been if we had not been raised in
Jesus. Now that old photograph is made very real. God allows it to be vivid and the experience to
be real as far as our present ability to sense things is concerned, so that we experience the world
as it would have been with all its fallen-ness. And that’s what verse 21, which is now what we’re
studying, is talking about, because God made Jesus sit at his right hand in the heavenly places and
us with him, “Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is
named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” And that is where we are.
But I think it’s very important for us to grasp the facts that we’ve just covered so that we see
that we’re not involved in an imagination experience here, “Oh yes, well I’m really at God’s right
hand. I’m really far above every rule and authority and dominion and power. I really am, although
I’m down here slugging it out with the rest of them but I’m really up there.” No, that is where we
are. It is simply that God has allowed all these things to continue much as I mentioned to you
about Hiroshima and the bomb — the fact that they came across people standing in the street after
the explosion and when they touched them they just crumbled because it was just cinder ash that was
left. But it had taken place so suddenly that they looked as if they were absolutely complete and
alive and then you touched the figure and it was cinder. That’s what this world is which ties up
with Luther’s line, “One little word will fell him.” Which ties up with the Apostles laying their
hands – you just touch it while you live in reality and faith.
Now we get into difficulties with that because we say, “I touched it and said, ‘In the Lord’s
name.’” It happens when Jesus wants it done. We’ve involved ourselves in all kinds of games to try
to prove that we’re really at the right hand of God, that we are in Christ and we are his body and
we can do what he wants done. But he’s not going to be dragged into all kinds of tricks and things
that we do to prove that we’re justified or that we’re Christian. So it happens when Peter and John
lay their hands on the man at the Gate Beautiful of the temple and Jesus wants to do that. Then at
that moment you realize it’s just cinder, this whole world. It’s unreal, it’s what Paul calls a
“schema” the word he uses in Greek; a passing façade. This whole world is a passing façade, and
every time you act in Christ where you are, reality breaks through, and that’s what this verse is
talking about. That Jesus, and us with him, have been raised above every rule and authority and
dominion and power.
Now if you say, “What on earth does that mean?” I think it means something of this; that when men
and women decided that they would live as if they alone had created themselves, then they were left
with all kinds of needs, which we have talked about over the years. And they were left with a great
sense of emptiness and a great sense of fear and insecurity. And they began to develop systems that
would fill that need, and so they did make use of work, though not as something to develop God’s
world in his way for his glory, but as a means of getting the food and the money that they needed,
so they developed a whole system of security. And that whole system began to take on spiritual
power too, so some of the rule and the dominion and authority is found in that whole security
Now I don’t say this is the only way to explain it, but I’ve tried in some way to link them up with
for instance Bale who became the god of ownership. “Arche” is the word they use for ruler, “arche.”
And it means primacy or beginning or the primary drive, and there developed a primary drive for
security. And “exousia” is the word for authority so there developed a whole authority structure
that was tied to that. And the power that that security has over you is given because you are
concerned with getting the things that will give you that security. And actually if you’re not
given over to the getting, then things have no authority over you, but if you’re driven by this
getting of security, then the things exercise an authority over you, and with that of course can
come what is the next word used in that verse, “dunamis” or power. So there’s a rule, by things,
for security and you give authority to it by trying to get those things, and then there’s a
tremendous power of covetousness that begins to work in you — a desire to get, get, get.
We know it ourselves but you can see it everywhere in our whole world and particularly in this time
of prosperity; this is driving all kinds of people. And then there is what is called “kuriotes” or
a Lordship, or a kingdom that forms around that, that is driven all the way towards wealth. And so
there are rules about things; authorities that come from trying to get those things. Authority is
something that is exercised over you, and the authority can only be exercised over you if you give
it that authority, actually. So if you don’t give the things that authority for your security then
you’ll be free of it. But if you want to get those things, you come under the authority of that,
and that begets a covetousness within you that you cannot control, and then there becomes a
supernatural drive to it and soon you’re under this whole domination, which is probably one of the
primary lordships or kingdoms that now govern the world.
Probably almost everything that happens on television or the website is governed by this now – it’s
just run away with us; we’re fascinated by the fifty billion dollar man, Bill Gates. So this whole
thing takes a control and a power, and of course what this verse is saying is its all a façade,
because we in Christ have been raised above every rule and authority and dominion and power. Which
actually we know the moment, either as a poor old monk, or a sister in the ministry, or as an
ordinary little person when we turn away from this and we determine, “Lord Jesus you are king over
our security. Our security depends on you; the cattle on a thousand hills belong to your Father.
You have said, ‘Look at the lilies of the field they neither toil nor reap.’ Lord you are our
security, and we know that.” At that moment all of this has no authority over us at all.
I’ll do one just more; Moloch in the Hebrew actually comes from melech and means king; to rule over.
Moloch was the god who enabled you to rule over other people so that you established this great
need that you had. Because of course, when we lived apart from God we felt like we’re little
nothings — we’re so tiny — no wonder! So we felt like we were the little fiddlers on the roof and
of course we felt, “No don’t worry, we’re important, we’re important because God has planted in our
hearts eternity,” yet we’re not able to find it.
So we feel we’re important and we’re determined to establish that significance so we do that by
worshiping the god, Moloch; trying to make the circumstances suitable so that we will in fact make
people recognize us as important. So people become the dominating ruling authority in our lives and
pleasing them is what gives authority to them. That’s the interesting thing to note; it’s the same
thing in the authority that things have over us; it’s because we want to get. The authority that
people have over us is because we want to please them and if we once stopped being preoccupied with
pleasing them or avoiding displeasing them they wouldn’t have this domination over us. But soon
they get that domination over us and then there comes about a power of ambition within us that we
cannot control. A “dunamis” inside us that makes us strive to please them more and avoid
displeasing others and it becomes a primary passion in our lives. And of course, that leads to this
whole kingdom here in which every little American boy who wants to be President is to some extent
governed by it. And every little one who looks at the O.J’s that have not fallen from grace,
everyone who listens to the latest singer, is driven by this kingdom.
The fact is that we have been raised in Christ above all these things and the remarkable thing is
the moment you say, “Lord Jesus I am with you, I am in you, I am part of the Son of God, I am part
of the children of the Creator of the whole universe. What more significance could I have then
that?” That moment all of this is seen to just be cinders; it all falls away immediately. But the
key to it all is to see where we really are and to see that we have been raised with Christ above
every rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named not only in this
age but in that which is to come. So it is a supernatural deliverance that we live in in Jesus.
And you know yourself that even as you look at it and try to think it through that one thing is
undoubtedly true; you have found that even though you did not get all the things that you thought
you needed for this, yet somehow or other you have that. And even though you may not have achieved
all the things with these people that you wanted to, you have that. And the same is true of the
other one, the whole business of happiness that depends on the right circumstances, and develops all
kinds of powers over us, but the moment you cease to look to those circumstances and you see, “I am
in Jesus,” all of that falls away.
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, we see that you are money. We see Lord, that you are security and that
you have made all the things that appear to give us security. You can make them in a second and you
can make them disappear in a millisecond. We see Lord that you love us and that you have a vested
interest in us because we are part of you and no man hates his own body but cherishes it. And we
see Lord Jesus that you cherish us, you care about us, you have loved us even to your own death, and
you are the security. You are the only security.
Lord, we see again how fleeting is man’s approval and we see how foolish it is. We see that other
human beings die before we do, people whom we often sought to please and avoid displeasing, and now
they can do nothing for us. We see Lord, how meaningless fame and popularity is, and then we see
you Lord, the King of the universe, the Lord of all, the Son of the Creator of the world, and you
not only know us, but you feel us and have us inside yourself, so that where you go we go, where you
are important we are important. You are the apple of your Father’s eye and so are we.
Lord Jesus, we see that you are all we need, you are everything. Oh Lord, we would dwell in
reality. We would live in our minds and emotions and wills in truth and in fact, and no more in
this deceptive dream life that is passing moment-by-moment. Lord Jesus, we would step into reality
and live in you during the moments of this day, and the hours and days of the coming weeks, so that
we may experience our resurrection with you, and may be raised with you above every rule and every
authority and every power and every dominion, above every name that is named not only in this age
but in that which is to come. We thank you Lord for sharing everything with us and giving us a
place inside yourself.
Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with
each one of us, now and ever more. Amen.