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บทเทศน์โดย สาธุคุณเออร์เนสต์ โอนีล

The center of a dark hole is very dark. Its solid solid matter that has shrunk into itself until it’s more dense, the scientists say, than anything else in the universe. So it’s as if there’s a whole lot of matter out here and then it shrinks, and shrinks, and shrinks into a dark hole. And that in a sense explains all the analogy of that. Explains better the whole creation because in fact, the whole creation came out not so much out of a dark hole, but of the infinite mind of God where everything was concentrated into – well you know, it’s silly to talk in temporal terms, but into one second. But obviously it wasn’t even one second it was a millisecond and obviously, when we begin to talk about that with our childish minds, we almost make it a circus. But in some sense, in order to understand the stability of our lives, we need to see that because if we keep on looking at it down here from our little temporal viewpoint, you have the feeling more and more that your life is like a fiddler on a roof, you know, you’re not – well, we’re not sure, “Yes, well we could go this way, we could go that way,” and it’s all decisions that we’re making for the first time ever, and nobody has any control of it, and we don’t know where it will end up, “Who knows what will become, whether we will go to heaven or hell, whether we’ll die or live.”

And the whole of life become meaningless if you look at it just in the little particular few seconds that you and I live. Because of course, it is true that even as you – I don’t know if many of you have read any of the authors that have written books about time, along the lines of course, of the Hawking’s articles, where they bring it out very clearly that it’s almost – I mean, it’s almost like a fire there and a spark. That spark exists for maybe 20 seconds and during that 20 seconds it flies up there and disappears and another spark and that’s Lucy, and that’s – that our life is more like that. It’s more like a spark that just is alive for a matter of seconds and then it’s gone. And of course, if you look at it from that point of view then life almost becomes meaningless and you become very unsure, and very uncertain, and very insecure, and actually very irresponsible because you tend to take the attitude, “What can I do? I’m around here for a few seconds and I’m out.” And it’s very important to see that that’s not it at all.

You begin to get a hold of it when you think about Christmas and you read that piece in Matthew, the birth of Jesus Christ took place like this. And you read about Joseph and Mary in what, 4 BC or 6 BC and them having their little baby boy. And of course, if you see it only as that it really makes the Bible more and more meaningless because there are all kinds of things in the Bible that imply that this baby boy did not just originate at that moment at all. And he himself in his own prayer says, “Father, restore to me the glory which I had with you before the world was made.” And it’s then that you start to realize what we’ve talked about before, that Jesus did not just start in 4 BC or 6 BC, but in fact, he says, “Restore to me the glory which I had with the before the world was made.” Before there was ever any world, Jesus was alive.

He existed with his Father before there was even a world and it’s there that you begin to see, “Yes, yes, there’s something back here that took place that is governing all that’s being shown on this screen,” because of course, that’s very much what it’s like. It’s very much like the projector back here and the operator Marty, there he is, and here is the screen and it’s projecting on the screen what is in some tiny little reel of film or little cassette there. And that’s really what we have on this timeline of history. And this is I suppose infinity, and this is as far as we’re concerned, infinity, and then you know, maybe we’re maybe 1995 is somewhere about there. And everything that is taking place is projected out here so that we little time creatures can understand it.

Everything that takes place there took place here in a millisecond and you begin to get a feel for that when this man Jesus says, “Father, restore to me the glory which I had with thee before the world was made.”

And then you begin to think, well then he pre-existed. He pre-existed Jesus of Nazareth. He says, “I before you made me,” so it’s obviously him he’s talking about so in a way Jesus himself existed in his Father’s company before he existed here on earth. And you start to realize, “Yes, so there was an existence that he had before he came into time.” And it’s then that you look at some of the other quotations that you get in scripture and you can see that in John 1. It’s one that we all know very, very well John 1, and it just states what Jesus stated in his prayer in John 17 where he said, “Restore to me the glory which I had with thee before the world was made.” And John 1:1, runs, “In the beginning,” in the very beginning, “Was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And of course, further down you know, in Verse 14 it’s obvious who the word was. Verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John bore witness to him, and cried, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.”’)” Well, that’s obviously Jesus. The Word is Jesus.

So back to Verse 1, “In the beginning was the Word,” in the beginning was Jesus, “And the Word,” Jesus, “Was with God, and,” Jesus, “Was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” And you see that Christmas is only the temporal expression of something that happened in what we call eternity which is the name we give to the place beyond time and before time. Then you know, it doesn’t end there, you know that. Then there is that just bewildering verse that Jesus was the very fullness of God and he was the first-born of all of creation. And it just throws you into mental summersaults. “Wait a minute Jesus existed before the world was made. Okay, but he was the first-born of all creation? But I thought he was the only begotten Son of God?” “Yes.” “But he was also the first-born of all creation? But there was no creation when God begot him no, that’s right.” So he was the only begotten Son of God before there was a creation but then when there was a creation he was the first-born of all creation.

In other words, this Jesus was not simply the heavenly only begotten non-human Son of God, but he was actually the first-born of creation itself. That is, he was the first-born human being. And of course, you almost get lost in it because you think, “Oh, oh, he was the only begotten Son of God there and then down here he was born of all creation.” But, no the Bible says he was the first-born of all creation and you start to see that Jesus, when he was begotten of God, was at that same millisecond conceived by God as the first-born human being.

In a way it helps us because you can see a little more what it means that we were all made in Jesus, because you can start to see, “Oh yes, so the whole human race did come not just from two people as we argue in our creation debates, but the whole creation came from one person, from one human being and that human being was Jesus.” And of course, that makes more sense too of the verses like, “When the son of man comes in his glory and all his holy angels with him, then we’ll be gathered before him all the nations and he’ll separate them one from another as they separate the sheep from the goats.” And you see that that refers to the son of man and you start to realize, “Oh, that’s Jesus. Jesus will be the judge of all the nations as the son of man.” In fact, he is the son of man eternally. He became a human being eternally and that’s what we have trouble grasping because we keep on thinking, “Well, Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and he’s very different from us, and he did become a man like us for a short time, and now he’s gone back up to be the only begotten Son

of God. And we’re really grateful to him for helping us in that way, and he did suffer for us and die, and we’re grateful to him for giving up all of heaven so that he could do that.” And then it just strikes you like a thunderbolt, but he didn’t just do that. He actually became a human being as well as the Son of God he became a human being eternally. He became a human being forever.

He has – he has in a sense, you could say, sacrificed eternally. He has determined – not you might say, “Well, do you think he gave up some of his divinity?” No, he didn’t give up some of his divinity but he did take upon himself the incredible burden of not only being a human being but of all the human beings that then were created in him and he has taken on that burden eternally. And so then, that’s where you start to see that Christmas is your birthday. That Christmas is not just the birthday of Jesus. And you know the reason we say that, it’s Ephesians 2:10, and it’s just maybe good just to have it open anyway. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Because you see it says, you, Martha, you Ernest, you Marty, you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that you should walk in them.

Each one of us was created in Christ Jesus. In Christ Jesus the great human being, we were created in him. And you know, it makes sense of things like, “We’re the body of Christ and individually members of it.” It makes sense of, “Without me you can do nothing,” you know, because it implies that you have no existence apart from Jesus. That OJ Simpson has no existence apart from Jesus; Hitler has no existence apart from Jesus. Not just the saints but nobody has any existence apart from Jesus because we were all created in Christ Jesus. And as we’ve said before he is in fact our everlasting Father and all this – and here’s – here’s what just startled me, all this took place then.

I know it doesn’t make too much sense to us because we’re in time at this moment, but the fact is this all happened in God in a millisecond. And I hope you understand why I say that. You know, God doesn’t have to work it all out with square and with little objects. He doesn’t have to work it out – he doesn’t have to, “Oh, I wonder what will happen in 2000 BC? Oh well, it’s going on, I see. Oh now, it’s 1500 BC. Now, I wonder what will happen now. I wonder what Caesar will do. Now, he’s charging against the old Gauls. Oh, there he did it.” You know, it’s obviously; it’s silly to think of it that way.

God does not – God conceived the whole thing in a millisecond. In one millisecond he sees all the things that will happen, sees your grandmother, sees your grandchildren, sees everything, he sees everything in one millisecond. It’s all in a moment, even we – you must admit even we with our silly little minds have that ability. I mean, that’s what drives us crazy at times in worrying at night, isn’t it? Isn’t that what worrying does? “Oh, I’ll do that, do that, do that, do that,” and it’s you know, the nightmare – you remember, I always think of – there’s a funny opera, you remember, and there’s a very funny song, we must play it sometime so that you hear it but the fella goes on, “Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da,” and the mind is turning, and turning, and turning, and it drives you crazy because you have the ability, it’s interesting, isn’t it so kind of God because we’re made in his image, we have some of his abilities, you know. We have the ability to conceive 20 years in one second and actually, when you think back, “Okay, think a five year old, think a seven year old,” pictures flash into your mind in a moment, well how much more the Father – the Father sees all of that in a second and he sees us created in his Son, and he sees – does he need to wait to see what we’ll do? No, he can see it all.

The miracle is not that God can see it all, the miracle is that the Father has so worked things,

beyond our understanding, has so worked things that in spite of the fact that he can foresee it all he has given us free wills and he has ensured that our free will truly does operate as free will even though he can foresee it. We of course, have trouble with that because when we can foresee a thing, we’re determined to stop it happening. We’re so dominating in our own attitude that we can’t think of being able to foresee a thing and give a person the freedom to put a knife in us. God, out of his great love, is able to foresee everything that we will do in our life and yet is able to so restrain his own omnipotent powers that we still have the free exercise of our free wills. It’s a miracle that we can’t completely understand.

We can understand it a little. We do understand it a little because the whole of computer technique is based on the ability of the programmers to foresee some of the choices that each person will make so to a certain extent we do it. We can say, “If you choose one it will go that way, choose two it will go that way, and I can kind of warn you on two what you’ll come up against. So I can kind of foresee and help guide you.” That’s a crude form. God in his great infinite wisdom is able to give us complete freedom even though he created us in Christ Jesus and at that second saw our whole lives line out before us and of course, you and I know, saw what would happen. Saw what we would do. Saw that in fact, in some sense not that we had to do it, but in some strange way we had to be able to conceive of it, we had to be able to conceive what life would be like if we rejected the whole show. If we rejected all of reality, if we rejected the fact that we were made as part of his Son, if we rejected that we had no life outside his Son, if we rejected any belief at all that he existed or that he had made us for certain purposes for Jesus to fulfill in us what would happen. In some sense we had to see that and so he actually made that possible. But he saw also that if he made that possible everything was lost. Everything was lost.

We’d destroy ourselves, we’d become nightmarish maniacs who would consume each other and we’d eventually destroy the whole universe, certainly the world or the planet that we were on. And do you see that if this is all real, if God actually did conceive us in his Son Jesus, do you see that he couldn’t just say, “Oops, well I don’t want that to happen. Okay, back it all up, back it all up. We’ll play it again the right way and we’ll ensure that it goes right.” If this was all taking place actually in our Father and in his Son, he had to experience all that.

Now we know a little of that sense of responsibility ourselves. We know a little bit of it because sometimes we’ll say to each other, “Well, you did it, you have to pay for it.” And in a sense we feel that’s right, you know, we feel, “Yeah it makes life meaningless. We would all become utterly irresponsible, life would lose it’s meaning if we could just do something, see something disastrous happen and then just change it around and go the other way as if it didn’t happen.” In some sense we feel, “No, if there’s to be any sense of responsibility in the world at all we have to pay for our mistakes and we have to bear them. We have to bear the consequences.”

In other words, life becomes meaningless if the cause/effect relationship is broken. If you once stop a cause having effects then there’s no sense to life at all. So in a deep sense, God himself had to bear the consequences of giving us the freedom to do what we wanted and that’s why we hear those verses in scripture, “The lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world,” because at that millisecond, God saw all that and then saw, “Then the whole human race has to be destroyed and I have to bear the pain of that destruction and have to bear it all inside myself and my Son, and has to be recreated.” And that’s why that verse runs, “God who is rich in mercy out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were yet sinners” even when all that had happened “made us alive together with Christ and raise us up with him and made us sit with him in the heavenly places” and all that took place in the Lamb that was slain from before the foundation of the world. The

Lamb who had glory with the Father before the world was made. The Lamb in whom we were all created for good works which he had prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. And all that took place there.

That’s why we say Christmas is our birthday, because you and I as human beings actually came into existence in Jesus before the world was made and when his birth was manifested here in 4 BC, 6 BC, whatever it was back then – actually you could say that that was when we were born upon the earth too. For us, Christmas is a wonderful time because it’s not just the birth of Jesus, it’s God’s gracious conception of human beings. It’s God’s gracious conception of humanity. It’s the expression in time of what God did back there away at the beginning.

Even as I think of even though I love you and I use your name I think, it’s almost bewildering to say that Peggy Coleman exists – well, you hold back because your lips will hardly pronounce the words, because who are we? What pitiful pathetic specks of dust, little sparks that go out in a few seconds and we’re saying that there you were – well – but of course, you see what it does, it doesn’t matter how short you are, it doesn’t matter how small we are or how pathetic we are, we were part of the Father before any of this. And what we’re seeing here is just the little few seconds of life that we have, but our own life is there permanent forever. Our life is there. Here we have a few seconds.

So, are these few seconds – it’s what 2020 or whatever it will be, but these few seconds, they are full of meaning. The Father’s eyes are upon that little speck, that little Irish speck, that little Chinese speck, little French, little Ukrainian speck, the Father has all that planned. He has works prepared beforehand that we should walk in. He has done it all, we now are to walk. And then tying up with what did he do, how did he show physically the choice that we had, because he gave us a choice, how did he manifest that choice? He let us live this life on earth. And so this life on earth is a picture of what our life would be if there were no God, if we were not in God, if we were not in Christ. If we were not made in Christ for certain works that God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them, this life is that.

So my wife read out yet another of those meaningless events that take place that the newspaper reports, just more of the general meaninglessness of life, the ridiculous confusion between right and wrong, all that kind of thing. Well we say so often, “Isn’t it a meaningless world?” Of course it is, because it’s a fallen world, because it’s the picture that God gives us, it’s the choice. It’s him saying, “You were made in me and in my Son. If you reject that this is the life that you will live. This is the life that you will live.

Now of course, all of us will – those of us in Northern Ireland know we didn’t say que sera sera because we didn’t know Spanish, but we did say, “Well, it was meant to be,” you know, “Well, it was meant to be.” In Belfast, many of us – I’m sure maybe Sheila didn’t, but many of us said, “Well, it’s meant to be. You know, if it happened it was meant to be.” And in Asia we have the same thing, “Well, it’s fate. It’s fate. Fate just dominates my life I can’t do anything about it that’s it.” And of course, that’s the trick Satan has played. He’s taken this picture of what is the second choice of what God is showing us would be the situation if we were not actually in him and in his Son crucified and raised in him and he’s saying, “This is what would happen.” And of course, the fatalist people take hold of that and they say, “Yeah, this is meant to be. You can’t stop this.” So it’s a trick of Satan and a lie that gets hold. But it gets hold of all of us.

You don’t have to be Buddhist, you don’t have to be people that speak Spanish/French/Spanish to do

it, you can just be an ordinary person like us who say, “Well, I mean, I was born that way and I can’t do anything about it. This is my life.” And it’s such a lie of Satan but we all get into it and we almost – to back it up we point, “Well, see I’ve been doing this for years. I’ve been doing it for years. My father did it before me, my mother did it, I was born this way, this is it I can’t do anything about it.” And it’s Satan taking what God has set forth – what God has said, “This has already been destroyed in my Son. I’ve already dealt with this miserable existence that you try to live as if you’re separate from me. This I have destroyed. This is the life that I made. You were created in my Son Jesus for good works which I prepared beforehand that you should walk in them. That’s the real life.” And so he’s saying, “Walk in reality.” Satan comes in with his fatalism and says, “No, no, the life that you have now that’s fate. That’s determined for you from before the beginning of the earth.” The Father says, “That’s a picture for you to see what your life would be like if I had not made you in my Son, crucified you in my Son, raised you up in my Son, and set a life before you of works that I have prepared that my Son would do in you.”

So loved ones, Christmas day is a big thing for us. And of course, you see what it is for all of us; our life is not the life of a fiddler on a roof. Our life is not a little life comme si comme ca, you know, oh it may go this way it may go that way, or it doesn’t matter. Our life is something that God has planned in his own Son and he has a way for us to go that we can walk in. So, I’d encourage each of us, especially when that fatalism gets a hold of you and you think, “No, I can never, I can never,” remember it’s the enemy of your soul that is painting that picture to you. It’s the enemy of your soul that is saying, “No, no what you are, is what you’re supposed to be. That’s it you cannot change it.” And God is saying to you, “That is the absolute opposite of reality. What you see unfolding in your life so far is the life that you would have lived if I had not changed you in my Son and put my Son within you. But my Son is within you and he has a whole series of things that he wants to do and say through you that will enable you to enjoy what he enjoys with me.” And that’s it.

So Christmas is a – if you’d like to say it’s a new beginning for all of us. It’s our new beginning. It’s the reality that we have been created in Christ Jesus and that God saw each one of us even before we were in our mother’s womb, before we had any living substance, God saw us and he had every day of our lives written in his book before there were any of them. So, does it matter if your mother forgets you? No. Does it matter if your father forgets you? No. Does it matter if all of us forget you? No, because there is one place where you cannot be forgotten because you are part of his very heart. Let us pray.