Description: Aside from atheists who refuse to accept the reality of a supreme being most of us admire the strength of the Creator in the things we see around us.
The Love of God in Christ
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
We’ve been talking, loved ones, about the love of God in Christ Jesus. That’s the phrase, it’s
about the last nine words of Romans Chapter 8 and that’s it exactly; “the love of God in Christ
Jesus.” And that’s the only place you can experience the love of God — in Christ Jesus — really.
I would say almost every one of us here admire and observe the strength of God as we look at great
rivers, and lakes, and mountains. Probably there isn’t one of us here, unless perhaps there is some
ideological atheist who refuses to accept the reality of a supreme being, but probably most of us
here observe and admire the strength of the Creator in the rivers and the mountains. And probably
every one of us here is grateful for the kindness of the Creator in these bodies that he’s given us
and these minds.
But you can admire the strength of Jimmy Carter [former U.S. President] and you could be grateful
for the compassion that seems to be in his character and still not have any love relationship with
him, because you simply have no personal relationship with him at this moment. I think it’s the
same with many of us; we admire our Creator, and we believe in him, and we admire his might and his
power, and we are very grateful for all the things he has given us, but it’s a bit like our
relationship with Carter — we don’t know Carter, we have never met him personally. We’ve seen him
on television, we’ve heard the kind of person he is but we couldn’t say that we experience his
personal love for us. In fact, we would say he probably doesn’t even know us, and so he certainly
can’t have a personal love for us and as a result we don’t particularly feel any personal love
coming to us from him.
And I would say that there are many of us that are here this morning that feel the same way about
the Creator — you haven’t really experienced the personal love that your Father Creator has for
you. You listen to me saying he loves you and you try to believe it, but you don’t really
experience it yourself. And loved ones, there’s only one reason you don’t, honestly. That’s
because you’re not in the right place. There’s only one place where you will experience the
personal love of the Creator for you and that’s in Christ Jesus.
Now I’m not saying you don’t believe that God loves you. I know we are all brain- washed and we
say, “Yeah, yeah, God loves me. That’s the right answer to the catechism and the right answer if
Pastor ever asks you.” But I’m not asking you that, loved ones. I know we’re all too bright and
clever to answer any other way. But I’m saying that you, personally, don’t experience any sense of
God’s love for you unless you’re in Christ Jesus — really. And how do you enter into Christ Jesus?
Well, would you look, loved ones, at a verse that tells you. It’s 1 John 3:24.
Now don’t turn off when you read it, please. “All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in
them.” Now that’s it — if you want to enter into Christ Jesus and experience the love that his
Father has for him, you keep his commandments. Now, what is the heart of his commandments? You’ll
find it if you turn back to 1 John 2:15. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If
anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.” That’s the heart of Jesus’
Now it doesn’t mean you’re not to appreciate the world, or you’re not to use the world, but it means
that unless you adopt the same attitude to the world that Jesus has, you will not experience God’s
love in Jesus because you will not be in Jesus. To be in Jesus means to identify yourself
completely with him — to adopt the same attitude to people and to things and to experiences that he
himself has. When you do that, loved ones, then you will begin to experience God loving you. Now
the only way to express Jesus’ attitude to the world is in that clause that we have repeated
continuously for six months. There’s no doubt, I mean, even historical fact proves it, he died to
the world. That was it — he died to the protection the world could give him. He died to any
recognition the world could give him. He died to depending on the world for the things he needed to
keep body and soul together. He died to that — that was his attitude.
Now loved ones, the only way to enter into Jesus is to adopt that same attitude even to all of us
here. I mean, by all means be nice to us, by all means love us in the sense of wanting to do things
for us and give us things, but unless you die to your need for all of us here, unless you die to the
things that the world gives you, you will not experience God’s love, because God is a jealous God
and he will only give his full love to someone who gives their full love to him. He will only give
his complete support to anyone who depends on him completely — but for anyone who has some other
kind of crutch he will let them carry on. So part of the reason some of you maybe have never
experienced God’s love for you is you really don’t need it. At least you’re pretending you don’t
need it because you’re depending on all kinds of other things. And of course, none of them will
ever make up for God’s love.
That’s why many of us here this morning feel there’s something missing in our lives. Because it
doesn’t matter — no job security will make up for God’s love — it won’t. No peer approval will
make up for the lack of God’s love. It really won’t. No happy experiences of excitement will ever
make up for God’s love. Really dear ones, all of us here were made to live in the full blaze of the
love of a Creator who owns the whole universe. Haven’t you a feeling at times, inside of
yourselves, that you were made for something greater? Haven’t you? I mean, all of us have a wee
feeling that we were made for some eternal reason — why we were made. And indeed, we often do feel
that we were made for somebody to notice us and love us more than we seem to be noticed and loved.
The fact is you were made for your Creator’s love. But what most of us have done is we’ve tried to
make the vacations and the excitements, make the cars and the houses, and make the recognition of
our friends and our relatives a substitute for the Creator’s love. And loved ones, as long as you
do that, you’ll never experience the Father’s love, you really won’t. So if you’re sitting there
and saying, “Well, I want to live in the full blaze of God’s love but I’ve never really experienced
it”, it’s because you haven’t entered into Christ in his identification with this death to everybody
else. That’s true, it really is. Loved ones honestly, God is only able to begin to give you his
love if you die to your need of all other loves, really. It’s just a fact that while you’re still
depending on the recognition of your peers, while you’re still depending on how you manipulate the
bank account for your material security, you’ll never experience God’s love.
I’ll give you an instance of it. When have you sensed most that the Father really did love you and
was concerned about you? And there isn’t one of us here that won’t answer the same way, “When I
discovered I had an incurable disease” or, “When my finances completely fell apart” or, “When my
mother died” or, “When I failed that vital examination.” All of us will answer the same way — it’s
when all other supports seem to have gone that we suddenly became aware that there is something
coming from outer space that seems to be love and care, and seems to give us a sense of worth.
How many of us have picked ourselves up from nothing? How many of you have been an absolute
disaster and there’s been a strength and a power that came to you that enabled you to get going
again? And most of us, when we got going, were stupid enough to trade in that love for all the
things that we could again get our hands on and control ourselves. And so loved ones, really,
you’ll never experience God’s love unless it’s in Christ Jesus. And you can’t enter into Christ
Jesus unless you obey his commandments. And one of his commandments is – “do not love the world.
Depend on me only for your approval, your recognition, your material support, your happiness.” And
when you do that it’s a deep, deep thing inside, honestly. It’s not just something you rattle off
— it’s a deep, deep attitude inside — and you’ll begin to experience God’s love for you.
Now I think some of us here have come to that place. I think some of you have come to a place where
you identified yourself with Jesus in his death to people and circumstances and events for your
happiness and your love and you’ve taken a position where you depend only on God for the love that
you need. Yet some of us in that situation have found ourselves separated from that love, and we
don’t quite know what to make of that. Because the verse that we’ve been studying in Romans 8:38
says that nothing can separate you from that love. That’s what it says plainly. Your mother’s love
will end, your girlfriend’s love will end, your husband’s love will end, the love of your colleagues
and your peers will end, but this love in Romans 8:38, it will never end; “For I am sure that
neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor
powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from
the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And yet I think some of us probably will say, “We entered into that, but we have found that we’ve
been separated, at times at least, from our awareness of God’s love.” In other words, some of us
have wakened up in the morning with an incredibly overwhelming sense of depression. We’ve wakened
up as if there was a huge darkness over our whole lives. I’m sure some of you have experienced that
— you’ve wakened up in the morning and there’s just been a depression lying on top of you. You’ve
tried to glance forward to the day ahead and there has been a tremendous sense of the pointlessness
of even getting up. And the whole futility of the day seems to bear in upon you and at that moment
you would say, “Well, I know God loves me but I have no sense of his love at this moment.”
Now loved ones, why is that? Well, I’d like to share with you the reason, and I honestly think it
will help a lot of you, if you once begin to deal with this. It’s in John 13:2, “And during supper,
when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him.”
I’d just ask you to look at the words carefully, “And during supper, when the devil had already put
it into the heart of Judas Iscariot.” The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas
Iscariot. Now loved ones, there are powers of evil in our world. God has allowed a whole kingdom
of evil for purposes, part of which we can understand, and part of which we can’t. He has allowed a
whole kingdom of evil to continue to exist free in our world, and that kingdom has many powers in
it. The Greek word for them is “dunamis” the same word as is used for the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Dunamis” — and from it we get our word “dynamite”.
Those powers of evil are able to do what Satan did with Judas; they’re able to put things into your
heart, or into your mind or emotions — they can do that. They’re the same powers that produced the
Manson family [serial killers]. They’re the same powers that lay behind fortune telling or the
Ouija boards. They’re the same powers that inspire spiritualists. They’re the same powers that
enflame anger and hatred in war time. They’re the same powers that work in séances. They are
powers of evil and you are just dumb and throwing yourself open to all kinds of dangers if you are
prepared to believe Jesus until it comes to this point, and then you say, “No, that’s too much to
Loved ones, there are Satan churches in California that are very sure of the existence of these
powers, and they spend their whole lives worshiping them and placating them. Now these are the
powers that are able to put thoughts and feelings into your minds and emotions. Loved ones, the
truth that we’re reading in Romans 8:38 is, “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,” will be able to separate me
from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
And God’s promise there is that even those powers of evil cannot, in that morning of momentary
depression and futility, separate you from the love of God. Perhaps you say, “Okay, why is it so
then — why do I experience it?” And I’d point out to you that every promise of God is dependent on
a condition which you have to fulfill for the promise to be made real. For instance, we said that
death will not separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus, if you’ve stopped depending on all
the things that death takes from you. We said that principalities cannot separate you from the love
of God in Christ Jesus, if you refuse to believe the lies that those principalities feed you.
The last two Sundays we said that the things to come will not separate you from the love of God in
Christ Jesus if you see that, despite the spirit of antichrist, God is still in control. Now, it’s
so with these powers; these powers of evil cannot separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus
if you understand what they’re doing, and you know how to deal with what they’re doing. There’s a
twilight moment between unconsciousness and consciousness when your will has the lightest possible
hold on your mind. That’s the time when you’re either getting up, or you’re going to sleep. It’s a
twilight moment just between consciousness and unconsciousness when your will has the lightest
possible hold on your mind.
Now at that moment, powers of evil are able to actually put into your mind a thought of depression,
and that’s truth. That’s the proof that comes from John 13:2; Judas didn’t think of the thing at
all himself — he acquiesced in something that was fed to him. Now these powers are able to
actually insert a thought into your mind, or a feeling into your emotions, which does not belong to
you yourself and has not come from you. And so the first step, loved ones, is for you to start
identifying that as coming from outside. And you know what? Half of you do — you waken up and the
depression is there and you’re dumb — you just go after the bait like anything. You say, “Oh, why
am I depressed?” And immediately you say that you take it to yourself and that’s exactly what these
powers of evil try to do — they try to insert the thought into your mind, hoping that you will
think that it’s yours — that it’s come from you.
Or they insert into your emotions a feeling hoping that you will think, “Oh I’m feeling this way.”
And you’ll begin to ask, “Why am I feeling this way?” And immediately you own that thought or that
feeling as your own, you’re beginning to behave as if you were not a child of the Father who is
looking down upon you planning your day and looking for all the opportunities that he has to express
his life through you. Immediately you adopt that feeling or that thought or admit that this is your
own, then you’re beginning to live in sin because you’re beginning to live like an ordinary person
who has only their own puny abilities to face the day with instead of like a person whose dear
Father is in charge of the whole universe and is looking down upon you and is planning magnificent
things for you that day.
Now loved ones, that’s the trick of these powers — their whole strategy is to insert a feeling or a
thought into your mind or emotions and to get you to accept it as your own, and then to go into
introspection: “Oh, why am I feeling depressed?” And then you start looking into yourself to see
why you’re feeling depressed. Then you start accusing yourself, “I shouldn’t feel depressed — I’m
a child of God.” And before you know it, you have yourself tied in mental and emotional knots —
and then you have something to be depressed about.
Loved ones, do you see that the answer is very simple? If you really have begun to live as a child
of your Father, and you really have started to identify yourself with Jesus and his dying to what
people say about you, or what they think of you, or dying to your material possessions to give you
security — if you’ve started to live that way, you’re a child of the Father. Every day you waken
up you’ve a dear Father that looks over at you and that shines his son down upon you and is
thinking, “What am I going to have Jean do today? What am I going to have Peter do today?”
Loved ones, that’s the way God is. Do you think he’s wakening up all the little birds and he isn’t
giving you more attention? Of course he is — the Father loves you and has a plan for your day.
He’s looking down upon you to begin to feed his thoughts to you. And it is these powers of evil,
these “dunamis” powers that try to insert a thought of depression that is utterly inappropriate for
a child of God — hoping that you will identify it as your own. Loved ones, all you have to do is
dead simple, if you look at the verse; it’s James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist
the devil and he will flee from you.”
If you’d really grasp that — that all you have to do is resist the thought, instead of accepting it
as your own for one second, then Satan would flee from you. Really — he has to because, in fact,
Jesus destroyed him on Calvary. That’s what Colossians says — that Jesus destroyed the powers of
evil on Calvary. And actually, those powers do not have the ability to keep you in depression.
They don’t, really they don’t. It’s you that keeps yourself in depression by thinking that the
depressing thought comes from you. So loved ones, it’s dead simple, honestly; in the morning or in
the evenings, or when you’re sitting on your own, or you’re sitting at the traffic lights in the car
and suddenly that old depression hits or that sense of futility hits, immediately resist that.
First of all, whatever you are, whether you’re a child of God or not, resist it first. Don’t accept
the sickness into yourself, but resist it first. Then look up to God and replace that thought with
the realization that he loves you — that he’s your Father — he’s looking down on you and planning
things for you and preparing the way ahead. You do not need to understand every detail, but that he
is preparing the rest of the day for you. In other words, take some verse like “this is the day
that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” and say that to yourself. And for any of
you that say that’s the “power of positive thinking” I say fiddlesticks. It’s not anything like
the power of positive thinking which believes that the very positive thought itself brings the
happiness. This is ridiculous because the positive thought then could bring you a happiness that
has no basis in reality at all.
But loved ones, this is not the power of positive thinking. This is choosing to believe reality
instead of accepting unreality. And the unreality is that any loved one here in this service this
morning has to be depressed or sense futility at all. We had plenty of reason to do it, loved ones,
when Satan alone ruled the world, but ever since Jesus came, and ever since we knew that our
Father’s heart is loving and that he cares for each one of us, there’s no reason for any of us to
Now the last thing I’d share with you is that you can only experience that love by identifying with
Jesus. You’ll only be playing the power of positive thinking game unless you identify yourself with
Jesus. That’s right. There’s only one place to actually experience God’s love and that is in
Jesus. That means identifying yourself with his attitude to the world and to people. So I’d ask
you — any of you who have trouble with these things — I’d ask you first, are you depending on the
person in the office for your approval, or your worth, or your value? Are you depending on your
relatives for what they think of you to give you a sense of worth? If you are, will you die to that
as Jesus died to it? He didn’t care if even his mother thought that he was useless or hopeless. He
trusted only the love that his Father in heaven gave him.
So examine yourself first — make sure you aren’t depending on any other love than that of God. And
then if you’re not, you’ll begin to experience God’s love coming into your own heart. Truly you
will, really. I wish I could get each of you and spend half an hour with you and say — you can
actually experience God loving you. It is far better than any other love and it is a love that
never ends, loved ones. It is a love that does not depend on how loveable you are. It’s a love
that just keeps coming, because God really does love you. And honestly, those of you who don’t
really receive this — you’re going to be lost at the end of this life — but you’re going to feel
such a pain and grief when you see how much this dear Creator loved you and how indifferent to that
you were, and how you spent all your time going around after other substitutes. You really are —
you’re just going to feel worse than you can believe. And then, loved ones, it will be too late.
So I would encourage you to start believing that the reason he’s given you all these presents like
little birds, and little dogs, and these bodies is because he really does love you. And he wants
you to start depending on that love instead of trying to soak it up from everybody else. So I pray
for those of you that get into those depression things — reject it and look up to God. Let us