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Description: Time and Eternity 1
Time and Eternity 1
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
So anyway, we’re on Ephesians 2 and we’re at that verse, you remember, in verse 5, “Even when we
were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been
saved),” and then verse 6, “And raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly
places in Christ Jesus.” And I just, once more, express to you the important point that this verse
is saying, “That God raised us up with Jesus and made us sit with him in the heavenly places before
we cried our first tear.” That’s the important thing. In other words, before we made our first
move to repentance; that’s quite important, because I think a number of us still can misunderstand,
and can think, “Yes, yes when, when I begin to confess my sins, when I begin to repent, then God
begins to make me alive in Christ and raise me up with him, and make me sit with him in the heavenly
places.” No, he has done that already; faith is you saying, “Yes Lord, I see that that’s my
position.” So faith does not cause that position. That’s the important thing, and I think Lewis
brings it out himself in the extracts we’ve been reading on Sunday evening, that faith does not
cause it. Faith sees it and accepts it.
But the fact is that God has raised us up and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ
Jesus. And that is part of the torture and agony of our Father through all these years, that there
is not one person who has not been raised up with him, and made to sit with him in the heavenly
places. He has, as it were, their seats reserved there for them; and he has made them sit there.
He’s saying, “Believe that you’re here; believe that you’re here.” And because they do not believe,
of course, they live in the darkness and death of the lie. But it is important for us, who believe
the other way, to free ourselves from that subtle kind of slavery that we get into, “Oh yes, when I
become a Christian, then God raises me up and makes me sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ
Jesus.” And that results in us yearning, “Oh I wish I could become a Christian. I wish I had the
faith that would make that possible. I wish I could confess correctly and repent perfectly and
believe exactly so that that could be my state.” And God is saying, “Look, I know it sounds as if I
am stupid, but you’ve been saved by absolute grace. It’s absolute grace that I saved you. I have
made you sit with me in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus. That’s where I have put you. My Son
is here, and you are in my Son, and he is enduring you, and we are both enduring you, because we
love you, and we have you here. Now believe that, and live in the light of that. And it’s
important that we see that. So that’s why I just say it again.
Now, what are the heavenly places? Well I have a, just a couple of more verses for you to glance
at. It’s mentioned there, Ephesians 3:10. “That through the church the manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.” The heavenly
places — we’ve already talked about it; we’ve said, “That that’s eternity; that’s timelessness.
That’s where God is, that’s where everything is one great eternal moment.” And it’s very difficult
for us who are caught in time to see the sense of that. But at this moment God sees us all here.
He sees Trish at 70 [years old], and Trish at 80, me at 120, you all at around 99. But God sees us
all at this moment. He sees everything in one second, one millisecond. So it’s silly to talk of it
as a place. The Bible does talk about the heavens at times as the sky and the place where the stars
are. But the heavenly places are eternity or timelessness where God is, where God himself dwells.
It’s important to see that that’s where the principalities and powers are. The principalities and
powers are there — the principalities not only in the sense of the prince of this country or the
prince of that country as we saw in the Old Testament. At times certain angels are referred to as
the prince of certain countries. But also they’re the princes that dominate certain atmospheres:
the spirit of competition that we talk about in our high school that is kind of harmless. And then
it grows up into Bill Gates. Or it grows up — Bill Gates isn’t a bad guy, but it grows up into
other kinds of competition that brings intense antagonism and hostility towards men.
It brings about that spirit that you find in the training they give to troops, “Kill! Kill! Kill!”
And that same attitude that develops even — I was talking with Marty about rivalry and that kind
of thing in schools and how it can become intense: the rivalry, so that you almost forget that this
person is your friend. And of course we see it in great intensity in the corporate sphere where
people will do anything to win over the next man on the totem pole, and get the executive position.
There are princes, principalities, spiritual powers that cause that. We have guessed it at times;
we’ve said, “How could jealousy get that kind of grip on a person? How could one man do that to
another?” We’ve certainly seen it when we’ve looked at the things that happen in the wars that are
now taking place. And we see the things that are going on in Zimbabwe, and we see the things that
have gone on in Chechnya. And we wonder, “How could men deal with each other that way? How could
they destroy bodies that are dead in such a dreadful, vile manor?”
And obviously there’s a power; there’s a spiritual power that is greater than the human being
involved. And that’s where these principalities and powers exist. In other words, it is a little
bit the way we had, you remember in Dunamis. Do you remember Dunamis, that outstanding [tongue in
cheek] magazine that we did in Minneapolis? And you remember, I think some of it I had found
somewhere in a magazine, you remember. And here was the little English scene: down here a little
man with his plow and his horses, and the hens, and the chickens; and up here with the battle going
on between the angels and the arch angels with the evil spirits and the principalities and the
powers. And there was a very, very graphic, a very good picture of the fact that the world down here
was being affected by all kinds of spiritual battles that were going, up in the heavenly places.
And it’s probably good for us to realize that that’s where some of this power is coming from, in
that sphere where God has still allowed — well in fact, it’s put more plainly in Ephesians 6:12,
“For we are not contending against flesh and blood.” It’s not just the Russians; it’s not just the
Chechens. “But against the principalities, against the powers,” then very plainly, “against the
world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly
And that’s where the powers of wickedness are, in the heavenly places. And that’s why sometimes
when we’re dealing with a problem, we’re dealing with it in flesh and blood. We’re dealing with it
primarily in terms of our thinking, and our positive thinking, or our clever thinking, or even
sometimes we think, our correct thinking. And we’re dealing with what is a spiritual power by means
of just mental exercise. And of course the only way to deal with it is to take the position that
God has given us in Jesus. That’s really the only way: to know, ourselves, that we have been raised
up and made to sit with Christ in the heavenly places.
Now I think we can turn that into a mental game, because we can say, “Yes, I must remember whatever
this power of depression that is coming against me is, I must remember I am in Christ in the
heavenly places.” And so we try to battle a spiritual feeling or a spiritual atmosphere with a
mental thought. You can actually only battle a spiritual atmosphere with another spiritual
In other words really what I’m saying is we need to live in that reality day in and day out. We
need to live in joy in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We need to live in that truth every
moment of our days. And then these spiritual powers, they are under his feet. They have been put
under his feet. Yes, don’t think that because there are spiritual powers in the heavenly places
that they govern the heavenly places. No, he has been placed above those, and those have been put
under his feet. But their authority is wielded from there. But his authority is greater. All you
need to do is dwell in reality.
But I think what we do is, we don’t dwell in that reality. We dwell in the midst of the day to day
battles that we’re having. Our mind is utterly preoccupied with it. Now maybe it’s good to say to
you, “That doesn’t mean that you don’t deal with things on the earth.” Yes, we fix the tires on the
car; yes we write out the orders for the people in the shop; yes, we answer their difficulties with
buying this item or that item. But our whole mind and heart is not there, our whole heart and mind
is in Jesus, at God’s right hand. And we’re living there and rejoicing in that. And then when the
spiritual darkness comes to us, then we’re up there; we’re untouched by it.
So it’s perhaps good for you to think about that a bit more, that you can’t deal with the spiritual
darkness by just reminding yourself that you’re actually above it. The reminding yourself that
you’re above it won’t do it. But the living there day in, and day out will do it. And living in
the reality — really it is what we’ve said, “Faith is the victory.”
But faith is living in the reality of it moment by moment. Faith is not exercising the right
thinking; it’s living in it moment by moment. It’s taking this verse and thinking about it and
dwelling upon it, meditating about it, night in, through the night, in the middle of the night,
through the day, in the middle of the day, and above all acting in the light of it; but acting out,
because of the truth of it. Too often we’re saying to ourselves, “Well now I’m supposed to be happy,
I’m supposed to be, “Whatsoever things are true and lovely and of good report.” Okay, I’m supposed
to be like that; I am going to be like that! And it’s all flesh; it’s all mental and exercise of
It is very different if somebody comes to you and says, “Here’s 5 million dollars.” Now it’s not
because we all want money, but just, you think to yourself, “Oh boy, that’s nice. Well, that’s the
money thing solved. I mean unless I’m really stupid that’s the — I don’t need to think again about
money.” Well the reality of it affects you, you just — it’s just there.
Now that’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about living in the faith of your position
that God has given you at his right hand. That’s where you are. And the more you realize that and
live in that, the more far above all these ‘spiritual powers of wickedness in heavenly places’ you
are. And that’s what God has for us.
You can, you can do it the way old Nee does it. He says, “Well, here am I [Pastor holds a Bible
open and puts his finger into it, and holds the bible up] and here is Christ, and I’m in Christ,”
and raise the book to there, “So where Christ is, I am.” You can do it with that kind of little
mental illustration. But really all it is is a mental illustration. What you have to do inside
yourself is determine, are you going to live there permanently? Are you going to live there
permanently? Or are you going to live down here and try to make little mental excursions up there?
In other words, are we sitting with him in Christ Jesus at his right hand, or are we not? He says,
“You are, my child, you are.” Let’s pray.
Father, you have said that seed time and harvest will not fail. And we see the seasons have come
round faithfully. We have seen the sun rise every day. You have supplied all our needs as you
promised. So Lord, we know that if everyone is untruthful, you are truthful; you are true. What
you have said is truth. And we see Lord, that you have plainly said that you have made us alive in
Christ, and you have raised us up with him, and made us sit with you in the heavenly places in
And Lord it is only our place to say, “Thank you.” And with relief take our place at your side, “Far
above every rule and authority and dominion and power, not only in this age but in that which is to
come,” and to dwell there in joy and in peace and safety, and in victory. Oh Lord, we would turn
now from these temporary shadows that we have spent so many of our hours in: the temporary shadow of
a failed sale, or the temporary shadow of uncertainty about our future, the temporary shadow of what
someone has said to us; the temporary shadow of all the many things about which we’re troubled.
We would turn from all of these little greynesses and darknesses, and turn to this bright world
where you have placed us in your Son, at your right hand, a place where there will be no difference
for us between the last breath here and the first breath there. The brightness will not change.
Lord we thank you.
We do not presume to come to this thy table most merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness,
but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under
thy table, but thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore,
Gracious Lord, so by faith to receive thy Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ that the bread which we
break may be unto us the communion of his body, and the cup of blessing which we bless may be the
communion of his blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.