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Description: The Whole World is Equal in Christ
The Whole World is Equal in Christ
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Dear ones, we should turn to the verse that we’re studying today. It’s Ephesians 2:14. We’ve dealt
with it several times before, and this is the last time. “For he is our peace, who has made us both
one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility.” “For he is our peace, who has made us
both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility.” And we talked about the dividing
wall of hostility there because there is the holy of holies, [Pastor indicates on the white board
the inner of 3 rectangles] and there is the holy place [A larger rectangle around the inner one],
and then there [The largest rectangle around the other 2] is the court of the Gentiles. And so
that’s the court of the Gentiles there, and then this is the holy place and that’s the holy of
holies, and there [the line that separated the holy place from the court of the Gentiles] was the
wall of partition, the middle wall of partition.
It was death for a Gentile to pass from the court of Gentiles into the holy place where the Jews
were. This was sometimes known as the court of the Jews. [The holy place, the middle rectangle]
But that was the wall of partition. But of course, what Paul is referring to there is just the
physical wall — the stone balustrade it was, that was across the temple at that point that
prevented or kept the Gentiles out from the privileges of the Jews. But really of course,
spiritually what the wall was, was all of the specifically Jewish laws, ceremonial laws, moral laws,
all the Jewish methods of worship in the temple and of sacrifice, that God had given to the Jews to
signify that he had made all things right in eternity; that he had made all things right in
And it was things like Isaiah 53. It was those declarations that, “Surely he has borne our sins and
carried our sorrows.” It was that kind of reassurance that God had given the Jews that he had made
everything right, that he had foreseen what their sins would be, and he had foreseen what their
sicknesses would be, and he had made them all right in his Son, in whom he had created them, and in
whom he had crucified and raised them up. And so these were all these promises, the promises that
God give to the Jews that implied that, “The desert would blossom as a rose,” that there was hope.
“The desert would blossom as a rose.”
It was the kind of promise that you got even in that Psalm that we read yesterday that God forgave
your iniquities, “He has forgiven your iniquities and he has healed your diseases.” It was all the
temple worship and the sacrifices that pointed to the fact that something incredible had taken place
inside of God’s heart. That was signified by each sacrifice that was made, and each animal that was
burned. It was everything that signified to the Jews that the world was not rejected by God, that
it had been reconciled to him in his own heart. And so it was that, that actually separated the
Gentiles from the Jews.
It was the ceremonies, the laws, the promises, the covenants, all the prophesies that God had given
to the Jews to assure them that he was still their God, and he still had them in his arms. It was
those that separated the Jews from the Gentiles.
The Jews actually began to pride themselves in having these, and pride themselves in the fact that
where the Gentiles had no hope, were without hope in the world, and had no feeling that there was a
loving Father taking care of them at all, the Jews had those reassurances. And they treasured
those, and they lorded them over the Gentiles.
I think it’s easy for us to feel, “We do not do that.” But I would ask you once more about our
attitude to all the other people in England, but our attitude to our customers; and our attitude,
particularly to those whom we know outwardly are not Christians. And I think it’s very easy to lay
the emphasis, in our attitude, on the things that differentiate us from them. “Well, we understand
the Bible. They don’t understand the Bible. Well, we understand all about Jesus’ death, and about
his atonement. And they don’t understand that. Well, we understand about the Holy Spirit, and they
don’t understand about the Holy Spirit.” And to utterly ignore the fact that he has broken down the
middle wall of partition, because “Christ has died for all, therefore all have died.” And the
atonement is universal. And these people also have been crucified as we have been, and have been
raised up in Jesus. And God has made us one with them in him. And that is the final reality.
And rather than dealing with them primarily with the final reality in the forefront of our minds,
it is possible for us to continue to deal with them primarily with these relatively unimportant, in
a sense, and to a certain sense anachronistic and outdated truths, because of course, when Christ
was crucified all these really became in a way unnecessary. All the things that the Jews had
treasured, the special promises, the temple worship, all those were superseded by the High Priest
[Christ] who entered into the holy of holies himself. And so all of these were no longer causes of
a wall of partition between the Jews and the Gentiles. Once Christ had died and been raised on the
earth, that was applicable to everybody. And so the Gentiles were in the same position as the Jews.
They were all at one.
I wonder to what extent this is true? I wonder to what extent we do this? I wonder to what extent
we deal in regard to the real reality and to what extent we deal in the unreality? I ask this
because it’s easy when you are praying for them or particularly when you’re in front of them in the
store; it’s very easy to just check yourself, “Have I an ‘Us and Them’ attitude here?” I think it’s
very often the case that we say to ourselves, “Well, no. No I don’t think of them and us, and yet
there are certain things let’s face it, that they don’t understand and certain things that I do
understand.” And then I think it’s very to say to take the next step and say, “Until they do
understand those things we cannot absolutely be at one with them.”
And if you say to me, “Is there any other way?” Oh, it seems to me it’s possible to look into the
face of a buyer, or a store owner, and repeat to yourself 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of
Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.”
And this dear face here, was crucified with Christ, and was raised up with him, and is in him at
this moment. This face doesn’t know it, doesn’t believe it, but it is a fact. They have been
raised up with Jesus, and all that he has done for them is right around them this very moment.
Again, I would remind you of what I said, I think, a few weeks ago, “Does this mean that you treat
them as if they were Christians? And would that not deceive them?” I think it probably would mean
that you treat them more as Christians than as people who were different from you. And if you press
me and say, “Would that do them harm?” If there were no Holy Spirit, it might well do them harm,
but the Holy Spirit is here to convict of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. And it seems to me
the Holy Spirit will be faithful, and will continue to manifest truth to them, and that in a very
real way — I don’t know if you remember the verse in Romans, but there is a verse in Romans that I
remember well, expounding in great detail. And it was to the effect that these are saving days that
we are in.
These are saving days. And it ties up of course, with the well-known statement, “This is the day of
salvation.” But these are saving days. We are living in days of life, of life that has been saved
in Jesus. And our job is to express that in every way we possibly can, and to treat people in the
light of that. If you say to me, “Treat them as if they’re really saved and they’re not saved?”
Well, treat them certainly in the light of the fact that God has saved them in Christ. They
obviously do not know that and they don’t live in its reality.
But the problem is therefore — and we get right back to the roots indeed of all that we’ve talked
about over the years. The problem is faith. The problem is their faith. “By grace you are saved
through faith.” But they’re saved by grace, and they experience it and appreciate it through faith.
And it seems to me our one task is to deal always in terms of reality ourselves: the final and
absolute reality that they have been created in Christ; they have been crucified in Christ; they
have been raised with Christ, and made to sit at God’s right hand in Christ. And we are to treat
them that way. And we are to, in that way, allow the temple curtain to be rent in twain and allow
this middle wall of partition to disappear.
Now if you say, “Well, it doesn’t sound quite right; it surely isn’t dealing with the reality that
is right before you.” Well, you have to determine, what is the reality right before you? Is it
them, that you know is an old photograph? That’s what it is; it’s the photograph of what life apart
from God would be like for them. That’s what we’re looking at when we’re looking at them now. Is
that reality? Or is reality what God has told us is reality, that “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 … and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ
Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show forth the riches of his grace in kindness towards us in
Christ Jesus,” [Eph 2:4-7] these being some of those coming ages. Is that the reality?
It seems to me that this is part of what this verse means, that “Jesus is our peace in whom God has
broken down the middle wall of partition and made us one in him,” and that these are our dear
brothers and sisters.
To what extent we may, through our own desire to prove that we’re different from everybody else, to
the extent that that is a motive in our attitude, of course, it is utterly to be rejected. But it
seems to me, that is not probably our primary motive. Probably our primary motive is we want to
have the right attitude to a person who is not a Christian. We want to have the right attitude.
But it seems to me, that God’s word is pointing strongly to treating them as they actually are in
Christ. It ties up with Wigglesworth [Smith Wigglesworth, 1859 – 1947, British evangelist] and all
the dear fellows. It ties up with all of them that emphasize how important it is for us to see
other people in faith. To see them — in fact, they will often, you remember, say, “See them as
they are. See them as you want them to be.” It seems to me actually that’s a weakness, because it
throws it over into the power of positive thinking, but, “See them as they really are. See them as
crucified and raised in Christ.”
Now if you say to me, “Well, do you think that that makes a difference to the way we come over to
them?” Oh, I do think so. Even in America it makes a difference, but very much in England where
they’re used to having the ‘property owners’ and the ‘workers’, where they’re used to having the
‘foreigners’ and the ‘English’, where they’re used to having the ‘good-living people’ we would call
them in Ireland, and the ‘non-Christians’, where they’re used to the ‘church goers’ and the people
‘who don’t go to church’, where they’re used to the people ‘who gamble’ and the people ‘who don’t
gamble’, the people ‘who drink’ and the people ‘who don’t drink’. Oh, I think it makes a great
difference in England where there are so many ‘walls of partition’ to divide one from the other.
It makes a big difference to their openness. And most of all it seems to me it makes a difference
in the spiritual atmosphere in that store at that moment. It makes a difference as to how — I
don’t know how many angels there are around you each visit — but it makes a difference to how the
‘communion of saints’ is able to manifest its oneness and it’s stability to that person in that
The English people are – well you don’t need me to tell you they’re hyper sensitive; not just
sensitive, they’re hyper sensitive. They have antennae sticking out of all kinds of places in their
heads that we wouldn’t dream they have antennae. They can pick up your accent; they can pick up
your attitude in a second. And it seems too me they’re very good at knowing whether you’re
inclusive, whether you’re including them or whether you’re excluding them.
If you say to me, “What kind of difference would this make in your conversation?” I think initially
it would throw you over into possibly being interpreted as a general ‘philosophical kind of deist’
who talked to as if, “Oh yes, well we all know God is this and God is that, and God is the other.”
And I certainly don’t think you should take the Savior’s name in vain. I think there should be
wisdom through the Holy Spirit in not just rattling off religious terms to them, but it does seem to
me there’s a way to talk about truths of the Creator, and of the world, and of life, and of the way
God deals with us. There’s a way to talk about that to non-Christians that is meaningful to them
and that they understand.
You all know fine well there is not one [as opposed to everyone] who says, “Well, if it’s meant to
be it’s meant to be.” And they all know that very well. They don’t understand it properly and they
misinterpret it, but almost everyone has some sense of ‘providence’, some sense that there is in
life a force, or direction that comes into your life and brings about certain things. Everyone who
says about the accident, “Well, it wasn’t your time,” they are very conscience that there seems to
be at times in life things that you cannot explain otherwise than by the hand of some ‘mighty
being’. So I think there are many, many areas in which it’s possible to speak to the men and women
that we meet day-by-day in the light of reality, in the light of the fact that ‘we know’ that ‘they’
have been crucified with Christ.
Now, is there any other benefit? Oh, it seems to me the most powerful one is that when Peter said,
“Silver and gold have I none but what I have I give thee in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth
rise and walk,” his ‘faith going out’ affects their attitude. And it seems to me that is a mighty
ministry when you begin to see the other person as someone who is one with you, who is part of you
in Jesus, who is part of your dear Savior, who is part of your own ‘precious body’. It seems to me
there’s a faith, there’s a spark of faith that leaps across and that can be caught by them.
We often thought in past years that there were times when it seemed that a person was able to walk
strong while they were with you. It was as if they were lifted by your faith. Sometimes we even
thought, “Oh, they’re living off our faith.” But very often you’d feel that they were lifted by
your faith. And I think I would testify myself to having been with certain older people at times
where their faith seemed to be a strong help to mine. So there is undoubtedly a ministry of
building up faith in another person that comes from our attitude — absolutely differently from the
situation where you are very aware, “Well, they’re not Christians, so they wouldn’t understand this,
so I better try to mention some book that maybe they can read. And who knows? Maybe they can find
their way through towards God.” It’s very different from that attitude, the attitude which is an
embracing and inclusive one that treats them in the light of reality — not that treats them as if
they’re Christians, which is just pretending, but treats them in the light of the reality that
Christ has died for all therefore, all including them, have died. “And if anyone is in Christ he is
a new creation.” He may not know it but he is a new creation.
Now if you say to me, “Well, but does it make any difference to them themselves? I mean, is God
going to deal any differently with them in that situation than he had planned to deal with them?”
Well, we cannot tell that. But we do know this, that God at the beginning of creation foresaw your
life, foresaw you’d turn that way and then you ‘turn’ that way! And then [he saw] you’d turn that
way, and then you ‘turn’ that way, and then ‘that’ way! He foresaw every move you’d make and he
decided he’d send an angel out there but he wouldn’t send an angel out there, and he would send an
angel out there. And he planned all the moves that he would make in the light of all the moves that
you would make.
Now, I don’t know, I can’t tell you whether those moves, because you’re dealing with the infinite
mind of God, I can’t tell you that those moves become different or whether that changes once you are
aware of the reality that God has foreseen your whole life and has dealt with it all, and prepared
the way for you and ‘made the crooked things straight.’ But I can tell you this: it makes a big
difference to the way this little guy feels. It makes a big difference to me if I get to that point
and I know, “But the Father knows that I would be at this point and he has it planned and
organized.” It makes a big difference when I get to that point, if I know somebody is in control,
somebody is in charge.
So whether it makes a difference to the events of their lives or not, probably only in heaven will
we know that. Probably the truth is that any apparent differences were already foreseen by God in
his great infinite mind, and he foresaw and provided for the faith that would be exercised at this
point as opposed to the faith that would not be exercised at that point. So probably the truth is
God has foreseen it all anyway, allowing for all the changes and the contingencies. But I will say
this, that it makes a massive difference to the person themselves.
And the fact is that most people live in the attitude that we were talking about at breakfast: most
people in England are without hope. Most people have some kind of vague, vague feeling that they
know is very questionable and is very uncertain, some vague feeling that, “Well, when we all get
there somehow the great person up there will take care of us all.” And they have that vague kind of
idea that they share at times and times like Diana’s [Diana, Princess of Wales, 1961 – 1997, first
wife of Charles, heir to the British throne] funeral and so forth. But it’s very vague and it
brings them little comfort as they really come up to the moment of death. Most people are without
hope and feel the world is empty, and cannot make any sense of it all. And what they desperately
need is a sense of the reality that our dear Father has organized it all, and has it all planned,
and has their personal life planned carefully. And that makes a vast difference to the store owner.
Would they like to think that if they somehow believe this, their store will be successful? I
really think it’s a sideline for most of them. Sure, they all would like to win the football pools,
and sure they’d like their store to go well, and they’d like some kind of little tricky magic step
they could take to ensure their prosperity. But most of all what they sense they need is some
stability, some feeling that there’s some purpose in this life, there’s some point in it, there’s
someone who knows where this thing is going, there’s someone who has planned it all. And it seems
to me, that’s the faith that God has put in our hearts, and it also, in a deep way is true of them
this very moment.
So our attitude is to be much more, “They’re in this; they have all of this; it’s all surrounding
them; they just don’t know it.” So you talk to them in light of the reality, and it gives them the
best chance of finding out. It’s so different, you can see, from the old exclusive attitude that —
it just builds that thing, [Pastor indicates the separating wall] and has that wall of partition,
“Well, they don’t know Oswald Chambers. Well, they haven’t read the Bible. Well, they don’t go to
church. Well, hear the way they take Christ’s name in vain.” A thicker and thicker wall is built,
which of course, they feel. They feel from you. It’s very different when you accept that that wall
has been broken down, that middle wall of partition, and that God has made us one in Jesus, and
that’s the reality. And if we treat them according to the reality, then there is some chance that
they themselves will enter into that also. Let us pray.
Dear Lord, we thank you for the wonderful experiences that you have for us this coming week. We
thank you for the mighty privilege that we have, that you do not have Lord, the privilege of walking
in physical body into a store and talking to a person that you have made inside yourself. We thank
you Lord, that you have given us that great privilege which even you do not possess, except as you
possess it in us. So Lord, we thank you for all these moments that are lined up for us this coming
week. And we thank you for the glorious liberty and freedom that comes when we realize, “These are
our brothers and sisters. These are flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone. These are part of the
person of whom we are part. These are part of the dear body that is yours Lord Jesus, that dear
body of humanity that you have assumed and taken into yourself, and utterly changed through your
death and raised up new and filled with your life.” And oh Lord, we thank you for the great
privilege of being able to express to them the confidence, and the joy, and the delight that you
have given us in yourself.
So Lord, we pray that by your Holy Spirit you will give us the right words to use, and you will
bring light into their dear hearts and spirits. So that during this week there may be square
footage here on this earth that is filled with a sense of your light and brightness, and there may
be lives that will begin to lift above the earth, and dwell where you have placed them at your right
hand, that in the coming ages you might show forth the riches of your grace and kindness towards
them in Christ Jesus.
And 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.