Description: Life seems punctuated by breakthrough and catastrophe. Two steps forward and one back. We believe there's a better world - where does that come from?
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Did your mum and dad ever say, “Okay, you can’t go out after school for the next week.” Or, “For
the next month you come home from school and you stay home.” Now, why did they ground you? Was it
to satisfy some sadistic desire to spoil the lives of their miserable little children? You know if
you reflect upon it the reason they grounded you was because whatever you had done — told a lie, or
didn’t get in on time at night, or didn’t do your homework, or didn’t do your chores — whatever it
was you had done they knew would not only hurt you in your own life but would spoil the lives of
others if you kept on doing it. And, they wanted you to know that the thing you had done was very
wrong and was not just a little inconvenience or a little inexpedient but it was something that was
wrong and would destroy your life if you kept on doing it.
And so they really hoped as you sat in there looking out the window at all the other kids playing
you would begin to turn over in your mind, “That thing must be really wrong because, I mean this has
ruined my whole schedule. Here I am sitting here inside when I should be out playing, or I should
be about skiing, or I should be out tobogganing, and here I am sitting inside and all my friends are
out.” And it would get home to you, “Now, that must have been really wrong, what I did, if it
destroys my ordinary situation as much as this has done.”
Now loved ones, that’s the reason we found out last week for earthquakes, tornados, for tidal waves,
for arteriosclerosis, for headaches, for all those things that remind us that life is not perfect,
the reason for all those things is that God is trying to ground us human beings. He’s trying to
bring us down to earth and point out, “Look, the thing isn’t right. Now the reason it is not right
is because you yourself are not right with me. I didn’t make it like this at the beginning.” And
so really, what God is trying to do with the disorders in the natural world and the disorders that
occur in our own physical and mental lives is to bring us to our senses and say, “Listen, it’s
because of the independent exercise of your free wills against me instead of for me that has caused
this kind of thing to happen in your world.” And God is really hoping that we will sit back and
say, “Listen, this thing isn’t right. Now, why is it not right?”
Of course the incredible thing about us is we’re so wretchedly arrogant that we don’t even question
ourselves, we immediately question God. And so it’s incredible that half the problem with the
situation in the Bible camp, Dale, that you talked about, is we’ve all got used to blaming God. We
blame God for everything. And, the amazing thing is, we’ll question him before we’ll question
ourselves. And yet loved ones, really the reason we saw last week for natural disasters and for
sickness and disease is that God is trying to show us that we are not right with him and therefore
the world itself has fallen in to the same chaos as we ourselves have.
And you remember that was in Romans 8:20. You might want to start there dear ones. “For the
creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in
hope.” In other words, God allowed the flood to come and to destroy the whole structure of the rock
strata of our world so that earthquakes and volcanic activity and faults can develop. He allowed
that to take place. He allowed the creation to be subjected to futility in hope that we would see
that the real cause of this was our own rebellion against him.
Now, that’s one of the meanings of that word “hope”. The hope that we would come to our senses and
see that we had caused it. The other meaning is this: when your parents found that you were willing
to see that what you had done was wrong they did let you out and the proof of it is you’re here this
morning. They obviously did let you out. In other words, when you stop rebelling the grounding
ceased. Now, it’s so with the Father. The reason the world fell into chaos was that it was put
under our control you remember. God said to us, “Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the
fowl of the earth, over every living creature. I give you the world, man, to develop. It is under
And you remember, Adam had the power to develop it. He had the power to give the animals names. He
had the power to exercise authority over the natural universe. And then you remember, we rebelled
against God, we decided to go our own way. We didn’t want to rule the world, we just wanted to rule
ourselves. We didn’t want to be ruled by God. We wanted to rule everybody else. And we rebelled
against him. And we withdrew ourselves from God’s power and control. And immediately that happened,
you remember what we said last Sunday, the world itself was withdrawn from God’s control. The power
that he was going to exercise through us upon the forces of wind, and wave, and water, that power
could no longer be exercised. And you remember, he allowed the flood to come, a tremendous
catastrophic occurrence that not only destroyed the atmosphere above us and changed it radically but
changed tremendously the structure of the rock and the earth’s surface so that all kinds of
earthquakes, and tornados, and volcanic activity began to take place.
Now loved ones the truth is this: when the caretaker of the world fell out of God’s control the
world fell out of God’s control to a great extent. When the caretaker of the world rebelled against
God, the world over which he was to take care came into rebellion against God also. When the
caretaker fell out of fellowship with God, the world of which he was taking care fell out of God’s
fellowship. The opposite is true, if the caretaker reestablishes his fellowship with God the world
of which he takes care will reestablish its fellowship and relationship with God. If the caretaker
will come again into the order that God has for his life, then the world of which he is the
caretaker will come into order also. It’s just a basic truth loved ones, that this world will be
redeemed and will be brought into order.
Now, that’s what this verse says that we’re studying this morning. It’s Romans 8:21 and this is the
second meaning of the word “hope”. The first meaning is God hoped that through the volcanic
activity, and the earthquakes, and the disease we would see that we were not right with him. The
second meaning is in Verse 21, “Because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to
decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
Loved ones, this world with all its frustrations and its futility will be set free and released and
will enjoy the same liberty as we children of God enjoy simply because what we experience of God
will be passed on to this world. The liberty that we enter into with him will be passed on to his
world. Now, how will that take place? Well in two ways; one is future, the other is present. The
future one concerns Jesus’ second coming. You remember that repeatedly Jesus would explain that he
was going to return to the earth and he would return to it in triumph.
Now, maybe we should look at some of those verses. Matthew 24 loved ones, Matthew 24:6-8, and Jesus
says, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must
take place, but the end is not yet.” Now, I think that’s important for all of us who go wild on
prophecy and talk as if it’s all happening tomorrow simply because we have wars. Do you see that
Jesus implied that there would be a little time involved in this? He says the time is not yet even
when there are wars and rumors of wars. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against
kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” And then he says, “All this
is but the beginning of suffering.” So there will be a great deal more of what we’ve seen so far in
Then, when you go to Verse 21, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from
the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” Then Verse 29, “Immediately after the
tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the
stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the
sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see
the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his
angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of
heaven to the other.”
Loved ones, that will be the beginning of Jesus recapitulating all the loss that we men and women
have brought to our world. That will be the beginning of Jesus bringing the world of chaos into
order. You get that teaching clearly in 1 Corinthians 15, where Las Vegas will cease to be the greed
ridden place that it is and it will become what God intended it to be. Where Pigalle in Paris will
cease to be the festering running sore of prostitution that it is and it will become a beautiful
place that God originally meant it to be.
1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each
in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then
comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every
authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last
enemy to be destroyed is death. ‘For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But
when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection under him,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put
all things under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be
subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one.”
So when Jesus comes, everything that was meant to be subject to us as obedient children of God will
be subjected to Jesus and he will bring an end to the earthquakes and the volcanic eruption. He
will bring an end to the tidal waves. He will bring an end to the chaos that exists in our moral
relationships. He will bring the whole natural world and the whole physical world into order.
Now loved ones, that is further explained if you look at Revelation 21 because there is described
the beautiful order that God originally intended for our world and this is what God will bring back
to it through Jesus. All the signs of futility will be removed. All the futility unto which God
has allowed the world to come — the stormy seas, the frustration, the limitations of death and
disease — all those will be removed. Revelation 21:1-4, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth;
for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the
holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her
husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling of God is with men.
He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will
wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
So there will be no more crying; no more crying and frustration. No more crying and disappointment.
No more crying and loneliness. All those things will be removed and death shall be no more. And
there shall be no sickness, and no cancer, and no pain, and no sadness. “Neither shall there be
mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed way.” Everything that has
limited us in the natural universe will be transformed.
That is the point that is made there in that last line of Verse one, oh the most fearful thing for
people in those days in the little Mediterranean was the sea, the stormy sea that they could not
manage. That’s why old John says, “And the sea was no more.” There’ll be no more frustrating
baffling natural disasters. And then it’s elaborated just a little bit more over the page in
Revelation 22:1-4 where the Holy Spirit will obviously come into the world and not only integrate
all the natural world but will integrate people. “Then he showed me the river of the water of life,
bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street
of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit,
yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
That’s the tree of life you know, the Holy Spirit will bring about peace among all peoples and will
bring peace personally to our hearts. “There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of
God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and
his name shall be on their foreheads.” Then night, you know, I’m sure you’ve sat through a night
with someone who’s sick. I’ve certainly sat through a night with someone who’s dying and you know
the night is the worst time, isn’t it? Night is the lowest time, loneliness and darkness. “And
night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and
they shall reign for ever and ever.”
Loved ones, what’s interesting is you see is it’s a new heaven and a new earth. And the word is
“kainos” in Greek not “neos”. Now, those of you who know Greek know that “neos” is the word for new
that means “newly created never having existed before”. But, that isn’t the word that is used.
When John says, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” He says, a “kainos” earth, that is “an earth
that has already existed for some time but is now completely renovated and transformed”. Loved
ones, that’s why we say that when Jesus comes he will not destroy the earth.
Even the fire mentioned in 2 Peter is not a destroying fire in the sense of ending the existence of
this earth but a destroying fire in the sense of destroying everything that is evil in the earth.
It is a purifying fire. And so when Jesus comes the tornados and the tidal waves will be used to
cleanse the whole world without destroying the world. The volcanic eruption and the geothermal
energy will be used to provide the conditions on earth that God wants to exist — not for
In other words, Jesus will take everything that we have in this present life that hurts, and spoils,
and destroys life and he will redeem it all and he will bring the world back to that perfection that
existed in the Garden of Eden. And all those things will be done by Jesus. Now loved ones, the
whole animal kingdom will be changed which is why I made that comment about the whole “Jaws” [movie]
thing. The animal kingdom was not meant to be “red in tooth and claw” the way it is today. The
animal kingdom was not meant to live in fear of man. It was meant to live in harmony with man. And
so part of what Jesus will do is bring back that animal kingdom to its perfection. That description
is there in Isaiah 11 if you look at it.
Those of us who argue on the basis of the old rabbits in Australia you remember, the myxomatosis —
that it’s necessary to have predators for the harmony and balance of nature — it’s madness you
know, obviously that was not God’s plan. His plan was that there would not be predators in the
animal kingdom, but that the animal kingdom would govern itself, and govern its own numbers, and the
harmony of nature would be maintained in peace. It’s Isaiah 11:6, “The wolf shall dwell with the
lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling
together, and a little child shall lead them.”
We have to do it wisely in these days because the animals are not bred in that way. But, it was
God’s plan that the children would not be scared of things. That they would know that the whole
world was a friendly place for them to live. “The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall
lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the
hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or
destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the
waters cover the sea.”
Now loved ones, that’s part of what God means when he says that the creation itself will be set free
from its futility and will obtain the liberty of the children of God. That’s part of what it means.
That all will take place and be completed when Jesus comes, but it will be absolutely blinding and
bewilderingly incomprehensible unless men and women have seen something of that before Jesus comes.
Now loved ones, do you hear that? If nothing of that occurs before Jesus comes then the
transformation will be so blindingly different from what we’ve experienced, and so bewilderingly
incomprehensible to all around that it will not have the glorifying effect that God intends. In
other words, the principle that is outlined in the Bible of the lesser always preceding the greater
applies here also. You remember, in order that Jesus would be understood there were 2,000 years of
preparation. In order that people would understand Jesus, John the Baptist came first. In order
that people would understand what a spiritual kingdom like the church could be, God chose his own
physical people of the Israelites first.
In other words, right through history God has always prepared the way for the greater by sending the
lesser. He has always given us a little taste of it before the full thing actually happens. Now
loved ones, that teaching is plainly there in Hebrews 2 if you look at it. Hebrews 2:6-9, “It has
been testified somewhere, ‘What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou
carest for him? Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him
with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.’ Now in putting everything
in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control.” He’s still talking about man, you see.
“In putting everything in subjection to ‘man’, he left nothing outside his control. As it is, we do
not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made
lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor.” And loved ones, you see the clause, “As it
is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” In other words, God’s plan is that as we
children of God come into liberty ourselves we should be beginning to bring the world itself into
the same liberty.
Loved ones, as we begin to experience more of liberty from profit, power, and success, so God
intends us to bring the natural world into some of that liberty also. So really, we here are meant,
as children of God, to exercise subjection over the world. We have exercised subjection over it as
fallen children. We have contributed to it the chaos of our greed, and our anger, and our
irritability. Now God expects us to contribute to it the peace that we have in him, the absolute
confidence that we have that he will supply all our needs.
And so God intends that we should begin now to deliver the world from some of this futility so that
when Jesus comes and does it completely, that will be understood by people. They’ll look back and
they say, “Ah, yeah, we saw that change being wrought by his friends. We saw that change being
wrought by those who called themselves Christians before. Yeah, we see what this is. It makes
sense. It’s the completion of the thing that we’ve hungered for as we’ve been watching these
partial signs of it down through the centuries.”
An easy instance, oh in 1958, London for 20 years had been getting grimier, and dirtier, and
blacker. In London in ’58 it was hard to see any flowers inside the city limits at all in England.
The birds, even the pigeons in Trafalgar Square were beginning to clear off and any birds that
remained were covered with a layer of grime and black soot that came from all the coal burning fires
and the coke burning factories that were allowed to belch out the unclean air throughout the city.
So in 1958 London had four days of the worst smog that they ever had. Hundreds of old elderly
people died in that smog. And in 1958 the city authorities determined, “We are going to do
something about this.”
And nobody of course wanted to do anything about it because everybody was after the profits. If you
had to change – I remember we burned coal in London when we were there and if you had to change from
coal to electricity you know how it increased the price and that increased the price for businesses
and decreased the profits. Nobody wanted to get rid of the coal and coke. Nobody wanted to face
the lessening and diminishing of their own income that would come about. The city authorities made
it legislation and they eliminated the coal and coke burning fires and they began to govern the
activity of the factories.
In other words, the business owners were forced to start cleaning up the air. For the past five
years in London there have been birds appearing in the city that the Londoners have never seen for
50 or 60 years. There are flowers, and plants, and trees growing the way they used to grow 50 or 60
years ago. Even the buildings in London are beautiful. There are buildings there that I thought
were black. I thought that was the natural color of them. When I was there they used to be black.
And now, you can see the buildings in all their beauty, and the parks are beautiful and there’s
something of life in the City.
I know that wasn’t done by children of God but do you see that we children of God are released from
the desire from money, money, money, money. We are liberated from this desperate need to provide
our own security and the sense of food, shelter, and clothing. We know that God has counted the
hairs of our heads. We know that he will supply all the clothes that we need. He has promised he
will dress us like the lilies of the field. He will dress us in more glory than Solomon and so we
know that we are free to concentrate on developing his world for his glory and in his way, whatever
it means for our own profits.
Loved ones, God expects us children of God to begin to redeem the world in that way. He expects us
to be in the forefront of it. He expects us to be the people who carry out the strip mining and
then despite the loss and profit that it costs us we take care to replace the top soil and to grow
again the plants and the crops that once grew there. God expects us to be the first people to
invent an efficient electric car that will do something more than 55 miles per hour, I think it is,
and more than a 40 mile range. God expects us to be the first people to develop electric cars. He
expects us to be the first people to clean up the unclean air in the cities.
The Father expects us to begin to take a downtown corner at Central Avenue and 4th St. (Minneapolis)
and change it from a desolate, lonely, miserable spot to a garden with freshness and life in it.
Loved ones, that’s what we’re called to do. The commission has never been taken back by God. His
commission is still to subdue the world and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl
of the air. And loved ones, the Father who expects us who are free from the greed for profit, who
are free from the desire to make our name in the world, the Father expects us to be the first to
begin to bring his natural world into some kind of release.
That’s why, you know, I speak to all of you who have scientific ability and engineering ability, and
can work with wood, or can do anything practical to see that you’re to be full-time in God’s
service. Not necessarily that you’re all to join missionary organizations, not necessarily that
you’re all to come in to the center here and spend every day here but that you’re to begin to allow
the spirit of Jesus to redeem the world through you. If you’re in a loan company you’re expected to
run the loan company to teach people how to be prudent even if it means you will lose their business
rather than to run the loan company in order to gouge from them as much as their own foolishness
will produce for you in interest.
Whatever you do in your job loved ones there’s some way in which God wants to use you to bring this
creation back from the futility that it experiences, and back into something of the liberty that you
enjoy as his children. Because, you see, if you look at the chaos that exists in energy, and you
know it’s chaotic. We don’t know where we’re going with the nuclear power now. There have been so
many faults developed that we’re all afraid of it. The Congress and dear old Ford [US President
Gerald Ford] are fighting one another over what they’re going to do.
It needs a breakthrough and the wind and the sun are here in abundance but it requires some men and
women who will commit themselves to the development of those things whatever it costs them
financially with the same enthusiasm with which we commit ourselves to bringing other people to know
Jesus as their Savior. Because the truth is, loved ones, it’s all the same ball of wax. It’s all
the redemption that God has sent Jesus to bring about and it’s all preparation for his coming when
he will complete the whole job.
So will you begin to think a wee bit about that? That the creation itself is to be set free by you
and me and to begin to obtain the liberty of the children of God. And would you stop sitting there
and saying, “Ah, I can’t do anything. I’m not an engineer and I’m not a scientist.” But if you
begin to think, if you just begin to think. And you ladies, do you know who invent more things than
anybody else? Housewives. Do you know why? Because housewives just go straight to the heart of
the problem. They say, “I need something to do this.” They don’t get all complicated about the
technological difficulties they just say, “I need something to do this job.”
Loved ones, do you see the Holy Spirit expects us to begin to take part in this. And I know it hits
you hard at first, you think, “Oh this is madness. This isn’t for us, this is for the scientists.”
Loved ones, the dear souls aren’t doing it. Part of the reason they aren’t doing it is big business
doesn’t want anything to do with anything that would change our present status quo because our whole
profit system is built up on the kind of energy that we have at this present time.
God is calling us to begin so I would ask you, would you think about it? Think about being Jesus in
the world in more ways than simply talking to someone about the gospel. Really, when people begin
to see a man, a lame man healed at the Gate Beautiful (Acts 3:1-10) of the temple then they’ll come
to you and say, “By what power did you do this?” And when we begin to bring our world into some
kind of order then people will begin to say to us, “By what power have you done that?” So that’s
some of the calling that Jesus has given us. I do ask you to pray about it and think about it and
don’t just toss it out of your mind, you know. Really it’s part of our calling.
Let us pray. Father we thank you that you’ve called us to action. Lord Jesus we thank you that you
expect us to prepare the way for your second coming and to prepare the way for you to come and renew
the whole world. Lord we thank you that in the meantime you expect us not to stand looking up at
the heaven, looking up at where you’ve disappeared but Lord Jesus you expect us to commit ourselves
with heart, and soul, and mind, and strength to take part in the renewal of your world. So dear
Holy Spirit, we would ask you now to move in each one of us and make this Romans 8:21 verse dear to
us and whether we’re at home in the kitchen most of the day or whether we’re at an office typing,
Lord Jesus will you begin to endear your world to us. And while we hate the world order of greed
and selfishness let us love the dear world that you made and let us begin to bring it in to
subjection to you for your glory. Amen.