“These things spake Jesus, and lifted his eyes up to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” [Some believe “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” is in reference to the original name of the Church, i.e. “Church of God” as in “churches of God” (1 Cor. 11:16), “church of God which is at Corinth” (2 Cor. 1:1).] “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Jesus’ prayer for unity in the body of Christ
Prayer of Jesus for the disciples and the Church that would follow in their steps---for glorification of the Father; and for the disciples, security, sanctification, unity and witness. “The 17th chapter of the Gospel of John is what is sometimes termed the High Priestly prayer of Jesus. There are some great saints in the past that have referred to this as the Holy of Holies as far as chapters are concerned in the Bible, a real special chapter here. And it’s a prayer of Jesus Christ. And he gives this prayer after he gives his last exhortation, his last teaching to the disciples. You may remember, and I have to flip my page, but verse 33 of chapter 16, Jesus has just said to the disciples that they’re going to experience tribulation in the world, but he’s also explained to them that in him they can have peace, and they can be encouraged, because he has overcome the world. So with that, as we see here, he lifts his eyes to heaven, and he begins to pray. So we get to read this prayer, and as we read this prayer, this is now just moments before he’s taken to the cross, taken to where he’s going to have the trials and things, and taken to the cross. But we read here, we’re able to learn what’s important to him. You know, when you pray, you’re revealing what’s important in your heart. And we’re able to see here what’s important to Christ at this time, just before he goes to the cross. You know, I wish I could give out a cassette and we could listen to a cassette of this prayer, I’d love to hear his voice. You know, we can’t hear his voice. Was his voice very tranquil, or was there a lot of emotion in it as he prayed this prayer? We don’t know for sure, we might have different thoughts, I wish we could hear his voice. I know John when he penned this, obviously later when he pens these things [between 90 and 100AD], as the Holy Spirit reminds him of these things, he dictates this prayer, and I’m sure as he does that he can hear the voice of Christ. You know, I have some files, and I’m really blessed to have them, of Chuck Smith, somebody took his sermons and dictated them, and I love them. So I can read his sermons verbatim, and as I read them, I can hear his voice. You know how you can do that, you can hear the voice? So I hear Chuck, you know, saying the things that he says. And I’m sure John, as he penned these things, could hear the voice of Christ, and I wish we could hear his voice. But either way, we can see his heart. And what’s important to him right now? What’s important to his heart? Well there are a few points I can mention. 1) First of all, is the Father’s glorification. That’s very important to him right now, the glory of God the Father. 2), Secondly, the disciple’s security. That’s important to him. 3), Thirdly, the disciple’s sanctification. 4), Fourthly, the Church’s unity. 5) And fifthly, the Church’s witness. Let’s say a word of prayer, and we’ll look at this text together.
‘Lord we thank you for the privilege that we can be here and look at your Word. It would be great to have a video right now, or maybe a cassette, to be able to hear this prayer. I just heard Martin Luther King recently, that speech, and it just had so much color to those words, hearing his voice, ‘I have a dream’, that speech. We’d love to hear this Lord. But, well Holy Spirit, we pray that you’d minister to our hearts, and just the way that you do, open our eyes just to the wonder of what is here. Speak to us all individually, Lord. And I thank you that you indeed do just that. And we ask Holy Spirit that you’d be upon all of us, and even upon myself now as we go through your Word, in Jesus name, amen.’
1. First petition to the Father, that the Father be glorified
Verses 1-5, “So Jesus spoke these words,” (after that last exhortation to the disciples,) “and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour has come, glorify your Son, that your Son may also glorify you. As you have given him authority over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have glorified you on the earth, I have finished the work which you have given me to do. And now O Father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was.’” Well as he begins this prayer, the first thing he prays for, the first item is himself, he begins to pray initially for himself. And we’ll see as we go on in this prayer, you can maybe see the headlines in your text there, based on whose Bible you’re using, but he goes from praying for himself, and he prays for the disciples, and then he prays, interestingly, for you and I. Specifically he says it very clearly, ‘for those who are going to believe in him in the future. So he prays for the Church [i.e. the body of Christ as a whole], prays for us. So that’s kind of a neat thing to be able to study together, a prayer that he gives explicitly, it’s written here, a prayer for us. His first words are “Father, the hour has come.” We’ve repeatedly heard him referring to this hour, from the very beginning of the Gospel of John. And now he says this hour has come. It was approaching, he kept referring to it approaching, now he says the hour has come. He says to the Father, ‘It’s time, the hour has come.’ He says “Glorify your Son, that your Son may also glorify you.” So we see what’s of primary importance to him, at this moment, he’s about to go to the cross. And what’s a burden on his heart, of course as he considers the cross, is the glorification of the Father, that the Father is glorified. It’s his great desire to bring glory to the Father, so it’s his first petition here to the Father. Now how can he ultimately glorify the Father? What is the greatest way that he’ll glorify the Father?---and that is by going to the cross. And what he means there in those words, when he says “glorify your Son”, he’s referring to the cross. Another way he could say this is ‘Father, I now go to the cross, so work in such a way, that as your Son, I am glorified, in order that you will be glorified.’ He’s referring to going to the cross. So, ‘Glorify me when I go to the cross, Father, so that you’ll be glorified.’ And no doubt the Father does just that, in just a few hours Jesus will be on the cross, and you remember, when he’s on the cross, at one time there will the earthquake, and the sun will darken, and it gets people’s attention. You know, God is working so that people realize, ‘this isn’t an ordinary man on the cross.’ And then later he dies and goes into the tomb, and then that stone is rolled away, and then there’s another earthquake. In fact, people come out of their graves and start walking around Jerusalem. This is no ordinary man. And then forty days later, when he ascends to heaven, I mean, there’s this cloud and he ascends with this cloud into heaven, and there were witnesses there. No doubt, God worked in a way, in that time, to glorify the Son, so that everyone would know that this is the Messiah, this is the long-awaited Savior, this is what the prophets of long ago have promised that God the Father would do. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm to read those prophecies in the order of how they were fulfilled.] So indeed, he says “Glorify the Son.” That’s his prayer, that’s what God the Father is going to do, work in such a way that he’s glorified, so that in turn all the more God is glorified. ‘Honor me,’ he says, ‘in my death, with such striking proof that men will understand that I am the Savior of the world, work in such a way that men will more readily understand that the cross, it’s all about the cross, it’s the center-point of the universe, the center-point of history, the cross. So no doubt, that’s exactly how he’s going to work, so that we all understand, and then later certainly have that perspective. The apostle Paul in Galatians chapter 6, verse 14 says, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Man, he understood, that’s it, the cross. God worked, he understood, God illuminated the cross. That he wasn’t going to boast in anything but the cross. “By whom the world has been crucified to me,” he says, “and I to the world.” ‘So glorify your Son that your Son may also glorify you,’ he’s referring to the cross.
Believers are “gifts” the Father gives to Jesus
And then he says “As you have given him authority over all flesh…”, now what does he mean by that? “As you have given him authority over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him.” (verse 2) What exactly does he mean? What he means here in this verse, is that all the human race has been given to him, and that by his death on the cross, he is able to reconcile all men, all people, throughout history to God. That on the cross, he tasted death for every man [woman and child], not just for some people, but for every person that has ever lived. [One secondary interpretation of prophecy shows how that might be possible. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.] As the writer of Hebrews declares in Hebrews chapter 2, ‘But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that he by the grace of God might taste death for everyone.” So, when he says that he’s had all authority over all flesh, that he has that influence, that he’s been given that authority, so that when he dies, he is able to reconcile all people to him. So this means then this morning, that eternal life is available to all of us, all of us through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. 1st Timothy chapter 2, verses 4-6, Paul writes that “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself for ransom for all to be testified in due time.” So, when he says ‘You’ve given him authority over all flesh’, he means that his death, that he’s been given authority so that when he dies, all people can be reconciled to him. But as you see there, not everybody will be reconciled to him. As he says, ‘That he should give eternal life to as many, as many’, so he has the authority, he has the means, the power of the cross it’s there for everybody, but then ‘to as many’, meaning not everybody will receive eternal life. ‘That he’, that is Jesus, ‘should give eternal life to as many as you’, that is God the Father, ‘have given to Christ.’ Here in this text, and we’ll see it a little bit later too, we see this doctrine of election, because he says that he should give eternal life ‘to as many, as many as you’ve given me.’ So there’s this sense of God the Father giving him [cf. John 6:44] those that are going to be saved. And so you have this doctrine of Divine Election, that it’s clear in the Scripture that God has given some to the Son for salvation [in this present age, or in the age of their normal lifetimes], and that not everyone will be saved. Only those who receive eternal life are those that God has given to the Son, this thought of Divine Election. That salvation is available to all, but God the Father did not choose for all to have salvation. [Some denominations believe this way: “That God the Father did not choose for all to have salvation offered to them in their normal lifetimes. See the above link for differing interpretations on this subject. Not every denomination is nailed down to the same beliefs in this or other interpretations of secondary doctrine. Understanding that, and accepting that is a step toward unity in the Body of Christ. Agreeing to disagree in secondary doctrines, while agreeing on primary ones.] But, at the same time, we should note that the Bible also teaches that not everyone chooses salvation. God hasn’t chosen everyone for salvation, but neither has everyone chosen him. He’s not chosen them, and they’ve not chosen him. In the Bible we read about God’s sovereignty, but also we read about the free will of man, and they’re both true. And if you put all the Scriptures together, here, the Divine Election, you see it, put others next to it, you see the free will of man. And I think the way it works is, we can’t fully understand it, but I think the way it works is this, and that is from my perspective I have free choice, and from God’s perspective he chose me, and I think that’s the way it works. They’re both true. They’re both completely true. I have free choice, you have free choice. You have power to chose God this morning. But at the same time, in the whole plan of things, he chooses some, and some he doesn’t chose. They’re both true. And maybe that concerns you this morning, you’re sitting there going ‘Man, I wonder if I’m chosen?’ And maybe that’s bothering you right now. Well, the thing is, you can take care of that, if it bothers you, and that is, you can chose God. And if you chose God, then you can know you were chosen. [laughter] It’s the way it works, really. And that’s not dumbing down the doctrine. It’s true, chose God right now, ask Christ to come into your heart to be your Lord and Savior, I say a prayer at the end of this service, you can say it with me, be willing to turn from sin and turn to Christ as your Lord, and follow him as a disciple, and you can know that God chose you. That is the truth of the Scriptures. John chapter 3, verse 36, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life, and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life. But the wrath of God abides on him.” So, those who believe are saved. But we see here that God has given some, not everyone, but some he’s given to Jesus, and given for the purpose of eternal life. We should note at the end of verse 2, ‘he has given him’, it is interesting that picture, and we’ll see as we go on from here, in fact, in verse 6, and verse 9, and verse 11, and 12 and, verse 24, Jesus refers to those that the Father has given him, or ‘gave to me,’ so he refers to the believers as ‘being given to him,’ so there’s a sense of believers being a gift. I mean, when you’re given something, it’s a gift to you. And I think it’s something that’s encouraging, you know, you have that, then you have the other Scriptures that talk about the Church being the Bride. You put the two of those together, and that can really uplift your heart this morning. I know that on my wedding day, and I think it’s true of any man, when you stand there and you look down that aisle, and your bride comes out, man, that’s one of the most special moments of your life. And she’s being given to you, your bride. What a powerful moment in your life. And if you look at the Scriptures, and you consider what we’ll see in here, that we’ve been given to Christ, as the Bride, I mean, that’s pretty encouraging. He looks at you and I as Christians in that same light, just as that bridegroom looks down the aisle and sees that bride as she’s about to come, and man, there’s tears in the wedding, there’s smile’s at such a precious moment. That’s the way God views you this morning, just like that, Jesus views you, given to him as a gift, a love gift, as the bride, the Church.
What is eternal life?
Verse 3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” This means that eternal life, he says right here, “this is eternal life, that they may know you.” This makes it real clear, that eternal life begins in the here and now, and it’s about an intimate relationship with God the Father, and God the Son. Eternal life, it’s not about a religious experience, it’s not about spiritual enlightenment, it’s not about some feeling of euphoria, it’s about knowing God as a friend, it’s about an intimate relationship. And that’s what he says, eternal life is that they may know you. It refers to a relationship. [That is true, but by it’s simplest definition, eternal life is just that. We are granted spirit bodies, eternal bodies that don’t grow old, and are not composed of flesh and blood. Eternal life is just that, you’re given a body in the resurrection to immortality, which will live FOREVER—you will live forever! That’s eternal life, living forever with Jesus, God the Father and the Holy Spirit---God. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:49-56. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16_2.htm.] It begins right here in the here and now, and it continues through our lives as born-again believers, and ultimately we will have the FULL extent of that when we’re with God in heaven [some believe, “when we’re with God in the kingdom of heaven” or “kingdom of God” which Jesus will establish on earth at his 2nd coming]. But I think of that, and then I think of Chuck Smith’s story, and I’ve referred to this many times, I think it’s a great story…and Chuck’s thought, when he dies, he hopes when gets to heaven, it’ll take him a little bit of time before he realizes he’s in heaven. And I heard that, I’m like, what does he mean by that? But then he went on to explain that he believes that we can be so close to God now, and have such a relationship with him, and he hopes that he does, that when he actually is in his presence, it’s like, hey, felt just like it was before, you know, maybe my eyes are closed, I didn’t know I was in heaven. Just kind of felt like the same deal. I say, that’s cool, you know, knowing God, walking with God in such a way. That’s what it’s about. Man, it’s not about religion, it’s not about some burden for you, some trip for you, you know, some religious trip. It’s about just enjoying Jesus and God as your friend, and loving him and being with him moment by moment. So, do you know God? Do you know him? Do you know him like your friend? If you don’t you can. Again consider the prayer, I’ll say it at the end of this service, and you can say the prayer with me. It’s a prayer to say ‘Jesus be my Lord, forgive me of my sin, and now I can have communion with you God, and we can walk together, and you can be my friend.’
Jesus has brought glory to God (have you?)---Jesus has finished the work the Father gave him to do (have you?)
Well, Jesus then tells the Father, he says “I’ve glorified you on the earth” (verse 4a) so he says he’s glorified the Father, he’s confident in that, he’s brought glory to him in all that he’s done. And have you brought glory to God, are you bringing glory to God? Are you a Christian this morning? And are you sure you are bringing glory to God by your life? Well Jesus then says “I’ve finished the work which you have given me to do.” (verse 4b) He’s been obedient to God, and he’s done the things that God has called him to do, the work that the Father has sent him to do. His life mission has been fulfilled. That includes all his messages, all his teachings, it includes his miracles, it includes his discipleship and training of the disciples, and then ultimately it includes his death on the cross (which in a sense is completed in his heart, in the sense that he’s determined that he is going to go there). So in that sense, he’s completed it all, as far as the intent of his heart. Now that’s a beautiful thing to be able to say, “I have finished the work that you’ve called me to do.” Can you say that this morning? Can you say that? Will you be able to say the same at your death, just before your death? ‘Ah God, I know I’ve done what I was supposed to do. I was listening to you, you led me, and I’ve accomplished those things.’ Do you know what you’re called to do? [Most believers don’t have a clue. I do, but it hasn’t been easy, and it’s no way near finished. Click on the B-17 Bomber in the upper left-hand corner of any page on this site. Doing it alone has been kind of a drag though, being all alone on the job.] Do you know what you’re called to do? You know, I was thinking about this as I read it, thinking about my own life, and if I was to die tomorrow, I think I could say to a degree, a little degree, I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, I think I’m accomplishing at least some of what I’m supposed to accomplish. So that brings a little bit of comfort to me. Although I’m sure I fall well short. But I sure pray like the apostle Paul, that when my day does come, whenever it comes awhile from now, I’m able to say like he says “I’ve done what I was supposed to do”, and that’s what it’s about, man. Now, understand, if we’re going to do the work of the Lord and accomplish his work in our lives, that includes bringing him glory. “I’ve glorified you”, he says, “I’ve glorified you”, and that includes doing his work, a work that brings him glory. In fact, Jesus says in Matthew chapter 5, verse 16, “Let your works so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” So the good works, the work that you’re doing, bringing glory to the Father.
Jesus is about to return to his pre-existent glory he had with the Father
Well verse 5, he says “Now O Father glorify me together with yourself with the glory which I had with you before the world was.” And he’s referring to before he came to this earth as a man. Paul says in Philippians that he put aside his glory, and he humbled himself, and he became a man, and he walked on this earth, and he goes to the cross, and the after the cross, 40 days later, he ascends to heaven, and he returns to the glory there with the Father. In fact I’ll quote to you Paul’s words in Philippians chapter 2, verses 6, 8-11, “Who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men…Therefore God has also highly exalted him and given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus [Hebrew: Yeshua] every knee should bow, of those in heaven and those of the earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” So he’s been glorified, and everything, every rock and every bug and everything in the creation one day is going to go “Jesus, you are Lord!”. All creation will confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. “So Father glorify me together with yourself”, and that is indeed the case. So the first thing that’s on his heart, as you see there in those verses, is that the Father is glorified.
Jesus says he’s shown the disciples the Father through himself, his example, and says they’ve kept the Father’s word
Now let’s continue with verses 6-8, “I have manifested your name to the men whom you have given me out of the world. They were yours, you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they have known that all things which you have given me are from you. For I have given to them the words which you have given me, and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from you, and they have believed that you sent me.” So he says, ‘I have manifested your name.’ As he’s praying he now begins to pray for the disciples, and he refers to manifesting God’s name, God the Father’s name to the disciples. Now what does he mean by that? That word in the Greek, the word “manifested”, literally means “to shine forth.” It doesn’t so much mean to “declare” as much as to “illustrate”, to live it out in the way that it’s observable. So, Jesus earlier had said, as you remember, he says, ‘They have seen you’, meaning, ‘they’ve seen the Father by seeing me.’ So now he says ‘I’ve manifested your name, meaning, he’s lived in a way that, the name of God the Father, was seen in him. And when he says “name” he refers to the nature. In that time, in the time of Christ here, when you thought of a name, often a name would declare a person’s nature. [in Hebrew times, even back to Saul and David and earlier, a child wasn’t named until he or she was two to three years old, when they could see what a child’s nature was, and then he or she was named accordingly. As you recall in the history of David in 1 Samuel, Nabal’s name meant “fool” in Hebrew.] You think of Jacob, the heal-grabber, the conniver. That’s totally that guy’s life, total conniver. And the name spoke of the nature of the individual. So the name, ‘I’ve manifested your name, I’ve manifested your nature, I’ve illustrated your nature, lived it out, so that people could see me, and as they looked at me, they have seen God the Father.’ That’s what he’s says there. ‘They were yours, you gave them to me’, again that love gift, ‘you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.’ You know I love hearing things like that, I love reading verses like that. ‘And they have kept your word’, because I read that, I’m going ‘really? really?’, these guys are envious guys, they’re guys filled with jealousy and selfishness, man, they’re struggling moment by moment with carnality, and he says ‘and they have kept your word.’ I remember when I was young, I was living in Germany, and my parents took me to this one family. We lived up in the mountains, and then we moved to a city. When we lived in the mountains we lived amongst the Germans, so I made little friends when I was young with these little German friends, and then when we were living in the city, my Mom and Dad took me up to one of my friends, and I stayed I don’t know how long with his parents and him, and we played soccer and stuff. But I remember I got in a lot of trouble, I was a heartache to his parents, man, I remember that. So my Mom and Dad come to pick me up, and what am I thinking, ‘I’m dead, man, I’m dead you know, I’m in big trouble.’ But I remember his Mom saying “Oh, George has been a good little boy”, like she kind of forgot everything I had done. But he says here, they have kept your word, just like he’s forgotten a lot, you know. But the truth is, they’ve struggled, but they are standing with Jesus right at this moment. And the rest of the world isn’t. But they’re standing with him. So it’s true, they kept his word. They’re with him right now. And that’s true of you and I this morning. We’re here as believers, we’re not outside in the world, we’re here studying, we’re here seeking the face of God, and maybe it hasn’t been the best week, but it can be said, ‘You’ve kept his word.’ You’re here, you’re here still seeking him. I like that, that encourages me, that’s for sure.
Jesus has given them the Father’s personal instructions, and they know these came from the Father
“Now they have known all things which you have given me are from you” (verse 7). So, they’ve understood that, they declared it just a moment ago, as you remember in chapter 16, ‘For I have given them the words you have given to me, they’ve received them, they’ve known surely I’ve come from you, and they’ve believed that you sent me, they’ve declared those very things,’ they said “We know that you’ve come from the Father, and that God sent you.” They just said that to him. So as he prays, he acknowledges that. But then here he says, “For I have given them the words which you have given me,” (verse 8a) So he’s got divine instruction from the Father that he’s given to them. Now when he says that he’s given to them the words, what he means there, is the spoken word, not so much the written word, but the spoken word. That’s the way that Greek word is. It’s not so much the Scriptures, the written Word, but it’s the spoken word. It’s like when you just have a certain word for a certain person, a personal instruction, that’s what that Greek word means. So he says ‘For I have given to them personal words of instruction which you have given to me.’ And I love that about walking with God the Father, that God speaks to us, and he does give us personal instruction, and specific instruction, if our hearts are open to him. You know, the last couple days I’ve been thinking about that, I’ve been up at Alton Bay, NH at a retreat center, and a number of us guys went up there just to open our hearts to the Lord, it’s the beginning of the year, and maybe God would have something he would want to encourage us about for this year, or warn us about, or just speak to our hearts. I believe God speaks to people, I believe he gives personal instruction [through direct inspiration through the Holy Spirit in our minds], I believe he leads us. It isn’t just about doctrine and things like that, it’s about God ministering to me and leading me in my life. [cf. Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”] I want to know what he wants me to do, I want to know what he wants to say. So we were up there. Well I went up a day early, spent some time with the Lord, and getting prepared for the other guys to come. You know, Jim Cymbala, he has a book called Fresh Power, I brought it with me, because I’m in the middle of reading it, I haven’t gotten to the end yet, and I happened to pick it up after I spent some time journaling and praying, and I was encouraged and I thought I’d read this to you. I was thinking about it, and it kind of ties in here. But he makes a couple statements here in his book. And I sure hope I’ve highlighted the right pages, but he says, this whole chapter that I just happened to leave off on was a chapter about how the Church needs to stop and listen to the voice of the Lord, and seek God for instruction. Well, that’s what we were doing. Well here’s what he says, “I believe that if we could only hear with spiritual ears today, we would hear a great cry from God the Holy Spirit over the roofs of our churches, district offices, seminaries, denominational headquarters, and mission agencies saying ‘Listen to me, hear me, I have a plan for you. I know how my work should run. Stop everything for awhile and listen for my voice.’” I’m like, cool, cool Jim, that’s what we’re doing right now, man. This is like the Lord’s confirmation. This is the way the whole chapter is, but I’ll read another comment to you, same sort of thing he says. He says, “We must rearrange our busy personal and church schedules, make time for what the Church at Antioch did when they ministered to the Lord.” It says they got alone, they’re fasting and praying, and they ministered to the Lord, and then the Holy Spirit revealed to them that they were to send off Paul and Barnabas, as you remember. “In our times of waiting, prayer and fasting, God will faithfully respond to our need for more of him.” And that’s what he says here, evidently in the Greek, for he says “I’ve given to them words”. We’ll go on, he uses other words to refer to the Scriptures and things, but here he refers to those personal instructions. And man, I hope you’re hearing from the voice of the Lord, I hope you know you’re going in the right direction. I hope you know that the job you’re in is the job that he has for you. And the things in ministry that you’re doing is where God has you, I hope you’re listening for his voice. And it’s so key that the Church is listening to the Lord, and that in this congregation we are listening, because God screams out just as Jim Cymbala says, he’s saying “Listen to me, I’ve got the plan, I’ve got the plan. Don’t you want to know what it is?” Well, Jesus had given the plan to the disciples.
“I pray for them, not for the world”
Verse 9, “I pray for them, but I do not pray for the world, but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” Interesting, he says ‘I pray for the disciples, but I’m not praying for the world.’ Why isn’t he praying for the world? Of course he loves the world. God so loved the world, right? Why isn’t he praying for the world? It’s possible that what he means here, you know when you see the word “world” in the New Testament, it refers to different things. Sometimes it refers to the physical planet, sometimes it refers to the people, sometimes it refers to the world’s system, in that general way, all the things that are apart from God, the world in that sense. I think that’s what he means here. So it’s possible what he’s saying is he’s not praying that the world’s system would change, that you know, like we try to do politically, sometimes trying to change the system, but rather he’s praying for his disciples [that should tell us something about getting too involved this world’s political processes].
2. Jesus prays for the disciple’s security
You know, he’s about to leave, and he’s praying for them, and that the Father’s going to continue to protect them and keep them close to him, and use them in powerful ways to be a witness. So, we’ll see that too as we go on. Verses 10-15, “And all are yours and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world but these are in the world, and I come to you Holy Father, keep through your name those whom you have given me, that they may be one as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name. Those whom you gave me I have kept, and none of them is lost, except the son of perdition that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they’re not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one.” Well he says, ‘Keep them from the evil one.’ Verse 10 he says, ‘All mine are yours and yours are mine,’ he says ‘I’m glorified in them,’ and then he goes on and says, ‘I’m not going to be in the world, I’m no longer in the world, but they’re still in the world.’ And then he has this prayer to the Father there, ‘Holy Father, keep them, keep through your name, keep them.’ So, second thing. The first thing that’s important on his heart is…[tape switchover, some text lost…First point must have been, ‘I’m no long in the world, but these are in the world…]…Jesus as Savior and Messiah. John chapter 6, verse 70 to 71, then in chapter 13, verse 11, Jesus says that Judas had never been cleansed. And then in chapter 13, verse 18, he says he’s not among those who were chosen. So Judas was part of the crowd, but he was not in a sense given and trusted as part of those who were chosen, that God the Father had given to the Son. So he says, ‘I’ve kept the disciples, he’s kept them faithfully, except for Judas, because he wasn’t really a disciple. And then he asks, as he’s about to leave, that the Father would now keep the disciples, and continue to protect them. Of course, he’s got such a heart for the disciples, and he wants to make sure they succeed, and that they do well, and that they’re strong. He says in verses 14 and 15, that the world hated them, we just studied that. The world hates them, he knows it isn’t going to be easy for them, because they’re not of the world, they’re different. We studied that before [John 15:18-27; 16:1-4]. So the world hates them. He knows what’s just about to happen to them. But then he does pray in verse 15, ‘Don’t take them out of the world,’ but he prays ‘you should keep them from the evil one, protect them from Satan,’ is what he prays. ‘Keep them from the evil one.’ You know, sometimes we might think it would be easier if we were out of the world. He says ‘I don’t pray you should take them out of the world.’ And sometimes we can think that, it’d be easier if we were out of here, maybe if we just moved off to maybe western Mass. and set up a little retreat center, and put up big gates and barbed wire, and just lived there by ourselves, you know, it’d be easier, you know. You can maybe think that sometimes. But the truth is, it isn’t any easier there, even if you did that. People have proven it. The problem is, is my own heart. And wherever I go, I come, you know what I mean, I’m part of the package. [He’s referring to what Paul called ‘the Old Man’, the man of flesh whose deeds we’re supposed to mortify.] And I can try to get away from it all, but it’s still in there [inside us all]. And the spiritually dark forces know it’s still in there, and they’re going to follow me wherever I go. They’re going to mess with my head and whatever. So getting out of the world isn’t going to help, that’s for sure, as far as trying to leave the picture. What we need is just to have a better understanding that we’re kept by God. He’s got me in his hand. The Scriptures declare that I cannot be tempted above what I am able. God guarantees it. There’s never going to be anything that comes against me that I can’t through the power of the Holy Spirit withstand. And a greater appreciation of that is what we need. It’s just the realization that through the Spirit there is victory. I can be right here in the middle of this town we live in. When I was a young college student at Boston University, man, that was tough, living in one of those big dorms, just a big party, and just all kinds of wickedness, and lived there for a couple of years, young believer, it was tough. But I did learn, God taught me after several years of falling and tripping and getting confused, ‘Hey, I can stand as a Christian in the midst of this, I don’t necessarily need to go off to a little Christian college and just be with believers [and don’t think there isn’t carnality and hanky-panky in some of those little Christian colleges, it’s just not out in the open. Like the pastor says, our carnal side follows us around, wherever we go. Some who attend those colleges are not born-again, or in name only, while some are. It’s not like you can let your spiritual guard down just because you’re amongst believers.] That would be great, but it’s by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s not necessarily being out of it, it’s being in the middle of it, and standing in the power of God. [Comment: King David was essentially one of a very few Holy Spirit indwelt believers in all of the nation of Israel, and in Jerusalem. The rest of the population was worldly. He over his lifetime stumbled, often repeatedly, learning over a lifetime “in the world” to stand in the power of God. Read through the Psalms, where David states about knowing his iniquities, and keeping himself from them. He learned, often the hard way, what his weaknesses were, and then through the power of God, overcame them. He couldn’t leave the world. His believer friends could be counted on one hand.] And that’s what he says, ‘Keep them [through your own name], keep them strong. And man, that’s an understanding that we need to have all the more. And maybe you’re making excuses, maybe you’re thinking the enemy’s being unfair, maybe you think that there’s things that have come against you that you can’t withstand, and you’re a born-again believer. That’s just not true. It’s just not true. And Jesus even prays that God the Father would keep them. [Comment: The actual verse in the King James Version is “”Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” Some, particularly the Sabbatarian Churches of God, believe this passage is in direct reference to the original apostolic Church’s Scriptural name, found mentioned both in Acts and the various Epistles: “church of God”, “churches of God”(Acts 20:28, 1 Cor. 1:2; 10:31-32; 11:16, 22; 15:9; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:13; 1 Tim. 3:5; 1 Thes. 2:14; 2 Thes. 1:4.) The early “churches of God” during the time of Paul were “one”, apparently both in doctrine and name. This doesn’t negate the point the pastor is making about this same passage. Just thought you might want to see where the early Church may have derived it’s original apostolic name from.] So, security. The glory of God is important to him, but the security of the disciples. Verse 13, couple points we also can make, he says, “Now I’ve come to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” So the words, speaking, you know he’s sharing the truth of the Lord, that they may have the joy, ‘my joy fulfilled in them.’ And it’s true, we can note that the Word, the spoken Word, the written Word, man, it brings joy. If you’re lacking joy in your life, get into the Word, it brings joy. It really does. The Psalmist in Psalm 119, verse 14 says, “I have rejoiced in the way of your testimony as much as in riches”, the Psalmist says. Then in verse 162 of Psalm 119, “I rejoice at your word, as one who finds great treasure.” Then Jeremiah said in chapter 15, “Your words are found, and I ate them, and your word to me was the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” So he says that here, he says, ‘Now I’ve come to you, and these things I have spoken, the word, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.’ Now, earlier you remember he referred to the “word”, as in the sense of the spoken, not the written word, but the illustrated word, the personal word. But in verse 14, he says, “I’ve given them your word”, that refers to the Scripture, the Logos, the written Word. And we’ll just note that, and then we’ll move on here. Verse 16, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
3. Jesus prays for the disciple’s sanctification
Verses 17-19, “Sanctify them by your truth, your word is truth, and as you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” So ‘Sanctify them by your truth, set them apart through the truth, by your truth, for thy word is truth.’ What does it mean exactly, sanctification? Of course, it’s that setting apart. I’ll read to you a kind of doctrinal definition. “Sanctification is the making truly and perfectly holy that which was before defiled and sinful. That which was defiled, sanctification is the process of making it (or) someone holy. It’s how the believer is gradually cleansed from the corruption of his [and the world’s] nature, and is later presented unspotted before the throne of God with exceeding joy.” So, ‘Sanctify them’, that’s that process of making us more holy, sanctify. So the next thing that he prays about, the next thing as you see in these verses that is important to Jesus at this moment, is the sanctification of the disciples, the disciple’s sanctification. [And by extrapolation, all believers in Jesus, Yeshua, are his disciples, so this applies to us today now, as well as then, when this was being prayed. This is Jesus’ prayer for us as well.] And sanctification also means holiness, just being made more holy. It’s a process of becoming more holy, less like the old life, more like the life of Christ. And that is a burden to Jesus, he wants his disciples to continue to grow in holiness. That was his desire with them, and it’s his desire when he leaves. And if it’s his desire, we noted this a few weeks ago, it should also be our desire, our concern. You know, I taught on a message for New Years [see the John chapter 14:15-31 transcript], and there we’re two things, holiness and harmony, and then we talked about the Holy Spirit. And you’ll see the same in this text, you’ll continue to see these things repeated. And they continue to come to me in various ways too in my reading and studying. So, the Lord is saying something to me, and maybe something to all of us. But here you see this emphasis, this desire that Jesus would see them grow in holiness. And I’m going to Jim Cymbala again, because he says the same thing as I was just reading. So I’m going to just quote to you a point that he has here about holiness, “No choir”, he talks about the choir, they have a tremendous choir, so lots of times he references his choir in his books, he says, “No choir divided against itself can stand”, he refers to harmony, and we’ll see that as we go on, “A choir has to have the anointing of God’s Spirit, because God does not bless pieces of sheet music, God blesses and uses human beings. If a soloist has a great voice, but is living a sinful double-life, there is little hope that God will anoint the person’s song with power, even if the lyrics are correct and the voice is magnificent. The soloist is grieving the Holy Spirit. When my wife goes to a music conference and is asked ‘Carol, which would you say is the key to music being a ministry instead of a performance?’. She will respond, ‘It’s not whether the tenors are on their note, or the orchestration is well-done, or the microphones are properly placed. The main question before God is, who is singing. He can only bless people who are in tune, to use a musical phrase, with him, and with one another.’” Just this point and exhortation about holiness, that he has there related to the choir and his wife. You know, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, God uses that ministry in great ways, and there’s a repeated emphasis, ‘Hey, we can sound good, but that just isn’t going to cut it. What’s going to cut it is the life, a holy life, living a life set apart, in tune with God, and then in harmony and tune with one another.’ And that’s what Jesus says, it’s important to Jesus right here. ‘Sanctify them by your truth, that process of sanctification, continue to mold them into your image.’ Now he says “Your word is truth” (verse 17b). Of course the Bible is truth. But as we’ve also seen in previous chapters, as one has noted, ‘the truth comes in a three volume set.’ That is the Scriptures, the Word, something you can read, a book you can learn from. But we’re also told, Jesus said, he is the truth. So the truth also comes in the sense of the Son, a person that we can love, and then the Spirit of truth, the Spirit [the Holy Spirit] is also truth, a power we can live by. So, a three volume set, the truth. Comes in the Word, comes in Jesus Christ the person, and comes in the Holy Spirit. He says, “As you have sent me into the world, I have also sent them into the world” (verse 18). So, they’ve been given a responsibility, Jesus just didn’t keep them, he also sent them out, in the sense that he gave them opportunities. And that thought again, we’re not to be out of the world, we’re to be in the world, for sure, and to be a witness. “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (verse 19).
4. Jesus prays for the Church’s unity
Verses 20-23, and we’ll kind of bring this together here, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,---So he prays now for the Church [which today means the greater body of Christ in whom the Holy Spirit indwells], you and I right here,---That they all might be one, as you Father are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them, that they may be one, just as we are one: I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me.” (verses 20-23) So, the next thing that’s important to him, very clearly, and this is just before he departs, is the Church’s unity. Right? He makes it very clear, he prays for the Church, for those that are going to believe, he prays for you and I, right here in the year 2003, those of us that have believed, he prays that they may be made one. A burden to him, important to his heart, is the unity of the Church. And he makes some strong points about that. He’s concerned about their spiritual oneness, and he says, ‘May they be one as you and I, God the Father, are one. May they be one in that same way.’ And then he even says in verse 23, ‘That they may be made perfect in one.’ I mean, true unity, true harmony. Now what is the basis for that Christian [and Messianic Jewish] unity?
What real unity is
Well you see in verse 22, he says “And the glory which you gave me, I have given them, that they may be one.” So the glory of Christ, the person of Christ, the glory of Christ, that’s the basis for the unity, it’s all about Jesus. And if I’ve got Jesus [Yeshua] in my heart, and you’ve got Jesus in your heart, and the church down the road, Baptist whatever, Nazarene whatever, Messianic congregation whatever, they’ve got Jesus in their hearts, that’s the basis for unity, it’s the glory of Christ, the person of Christ, Jesus [Yeshua] in the heart, that’s it, right there. It isn’t how you dress, it isn’t necessarily all the little particular doctrines [which Romans 14 allows for the differing secondary doctrines], it isn’t that, you know, we’re a little more laid back, and they’re a little bit more whatever, liturgical, it’s just Jesus, Jesus. That’s the basis for unity, Jesus the Church, ‘that they may be one as we are one.’ And so, there’s the good reason right there. God the Father and God the Son are one, and he says that they may be one for the very same reason. And the truth is, is we got every reason as Christians that we would be one. I mean, we have Jesus in our heart, we trust in the same Savior, we should be at one with one another, be at one with other Christian churches [and Messianic Jewish synagogues, or congregations]. We all one day are going to in heaven [or as some believe, the kingdom of heaven, or kingdom of God]. So there’s a lot of reasons right there for us to be unified. I mean, we’re going to be together for eternity. We belong to the same God, the same Father, we seek to do the same work, ultimately, that is to get out the Gospel [of salvation] to a lost world [cf. Matthew 28:18-20]. We believe in the same basic truth, we believe in Jesus, Jesus the Son of God, the Savior of the world. We might have little minor doctrinal differences, but we have the same basic truth, as opposed to what the world believes. We look to Jesus to be our example, and we look to live a holy life like he does. So, we’ve got so much in common as believers, it doesn’t matter what group we’re in, and what church we’re in. We’ve got a lot in common. We have a little bit, maybe particularly different, but there’s plenty of reasons, we have all the reason in the world to be unified. And it’s the one main reason, of course it’s the heart of Christ here, is that it’s a burden to him that the Church [greater body of Christ] would be unified. You know, this is a burden on my heart, and it has been a growing burden, when I was with these men we talked a lot about unity. We talked a lot about our hearts being undivided. But also about this church being undivided, but also about the Church in the North County being undivided. It is so important. In fact, I believe this. I believe the more we’re unified, as a congregation, but also with other churches that love Jesus Christ, the more you’re going to see the strongholds of the darkness in this community pushed right out of here. That’s one of the greatest hindrances, what’s hindering the Church in the community from not seeing that, we can blame it on the laws, we blame it on the governor or whatever, but the real problem with the community is really what’s going on in the Church, that’s what the Bible says, we’re to be salt and light. And we’re not salt and light, as you see the context here, because of a lack of unity in the Church. I’m going to read to you again. A couple weeks ago as I left the service, Sunday night prayer, I went home. And for certain reasons I was burdened. And I decided, you know, my wife and kids went to bed, and I went in my little office and sat there for a couple hours, praying and just got thoughts in my mind, and wondering about certain things, and talking to the Lord. And I asked the Lord, you know, I had certain questions, and I wanted him just in his gentle way to make it clear to me, you know, I, sometimes I got so much going on in my mind, it’s hard to hear the voice of the Lord, even when I’m praying. And I started to read the Scriptures for the day that were in the bulletin, and the Scripture for the day that stood out to me which was in our Bible reading was, Jesus made that point ‘A house divided will not stand.’ I said, ‘You know, I just preached on this in the New Year’s message, that there needs to be harmony,’ and then here I am, I’m thinking about, I said ‘I don’t know, Lord, maybe you’ve been putting it on my heart, maybe you’re just reminding me again, it’s something you really want me to be burdened by, and want me to talk about.’ And so, I closed my Bible, got down, and I started to go up to my room. And on my nightstand, maybe like you, I’ve got a bunch of books I haven’t completed yet, you know, it’s just getting bigger, the stack. One of them was this one, I picked it up about a year ago, maybe a year and a half ago and started reading it, and I got a little way through…but as I was going to bed, hadn’t read it in probably a year, I thought of this book. And I’m like, I want to pick up that book and read it. And this happened to me twice this week, I picked up this book at a timely time. I picked it up, and don’t you know, chapter six was where my marker was, I hadn’t looked at this in a year, and it’s titled “A House United”. And on this very page he quotes Jesus saying, “A house divided would not stand.” Now I’m thinking, like burdened, I asked the Lord, ‘Get my attention’, you know, ‘help me,’ and ‘should this be something I should be more burdened about?’ And then I pick this up. You know how that happens sometimes in your life? And he writes a whole chapter, and I tell you what, I can tell you honestly if you ever read this book, I hadn’t read this book before I reached the New Year’s message, but that’s exactly what he talks about over and over and over. Meanwhile here’s a quote from Jim Cymbala on page 97, “Meanwhile we have countless local churches divided against themselves, yet thinking God’s somehow blessed them, he can somehow bless them. They don’t understand that division quickly grieves the gentle Holy Spirit and undermines every work of grace. It doesn’t matter whether the pastor preaches orthodox doctrines straight from the Bible, it doesn’t matter whether he’s a man of prayer. Unless division, strife, slander and fighting are conquered, all his labor is in vain. Division causes a treadmill effect. We are busy expending energy to move ahead, but we go nowhere in the end. At the same time that we beckon the Spirit to come through our prayer and preaching, our slander, backbiting and division yell at him to go away. This can persist for decades with a congregation floating aimlessly dead in the water.” I said, ‘Wow!’ Man, that’s been on my heart. That’s been a burden to me. Then he says on page 100, he says this, “Let us pray that God will raise up more voices led by the Spirit to bring this issue out into the open.” I was thinking that, ‘OK, alright, I’ll talk about it.’ Then page 102 he says this, “The goal of Scripture is not fast growing churches, but rather congregations that please God.” And he then goes on to say ‘it’s the congregation that’s unified.’ [What about applying this to the body of Christ as well. Ever wonder why the whole body of Christ is so ineffective and disunified? You just read the answer, plain and simple.] So I’m just being faithful in saying and exhorting us, as we mentioned on the New Year’s time, that if we want to see the Lord work in our midst, if you want to see this congregation have an impact in this community, if you want to see people get saved and things happen, then love people, be gracious with people, be forgiving towards people, don’t backbite, don’t slander, don’t ridicule the leadership, because that grieves the Holy Spirit. [And if denominations applied this to each other, wow! Unity of purpose would result, the Gospel of salvation would go out to the entire world with renewed vigor---and we as the body of Christ might accomplish our job --- Matthew 28:18-20---as Jesus prophecied we would in Matthew 24:14. Will we be able to achieve this type of unity on our own, with the Lord’s help, or will the Lord have to use the hammer of persecution to hammer us into spiritual shape in this critical area? That’s my question.] We can have prayer-meetings every night, but the power of God isn’t going to show up unless we’re a unified church, a unified church. And if you want to think about that more, and if you weren’t here for New Year’s, you can get that message [locate the transcript on John 14:15-31 on the upper nav bar of this page]. But we’re going to be talking about it, because God wants to do it. But God put it on my heart, and if you would pray for this. What really, really stood out to me more than anything, as we were seeking the Lord, the guys and I these last couple days, as I believe God wants to do a work. We have a pastor’s prayer-meeting on Wednesday mornings. It’s now grown to basically representing ten churches in the area. It’s taken three or four years to get there. But we come together and we pray. And what’s happened is pastors from completely different backgrounds, there is a genuine friendship and a genuine love. And I think it’s been awhile in this community before that’s existed. And it’s really on my heart that we see times of corporate prayer as a Church as a whole, you know, in our local high school in the auditorium, come together for a night, and pray for the peace of this city. There is a spiritual battle. But you get the Church together on its knees, The Church, not just this church, The Church, and you wait to see what God will do in this community. And I believe God wants to do it. And I believe he’s working, and he’s bringing harmony in the Church, so that we can wage a good war. And I’ll tell you what, it excites me, because if the Church [greater body of Christ] comes together and prays, fasts and prays, you just wait to see what’s going to happen. You know, I heard a story from a pastor last week that’s been ministering in this town, and it just opened my eyes to the spiritual battle that goes on here. I mean, he had a group that was one of these New Age groups, so adamantly against his church [must be doing something right], you know, they would have their church services, and this group would set up their little icons and statues outside during the service. You know, they were having a church service, and this group would come out and set up their stuff, and they would try to cast spells on their church, they would urinate on their building, do stuff like that. Evidently, another pastor in the community, I’ve heard this stuff said before, but another pastor in the community evidently has the same story of sitting on a plane and talking to somebody about witchcraft, and hearing from somebody who supposedly had been part of that, that the witches, they pray that pastors will fall into adultery, they try to bring curses against churches. And there is a spiritual battle in the North County. I am convinced of it. And one of our greatest weapons is love, you pray for unity in this congregation, you pray for unity in the churches as a whole, and you wait to see what’s going to happen in this community, man. I want to see that stuff out of here, I want to see Conquest Video moved to another place, I want to actually see it actually move anywhere, and “The Other Side”, that garbage, that Halloween business, you know, pray for those people, and these New Age places, and doing séances, man, get that stuff out of this city. Bring in the light, and the love of God. And may we be a church that’s unified and full of the power of the Holy Spirit. The Puritan preacher Thomas Brook, he said this about discord in the Church, “Discord and division become no Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder. But for one lamb to worry another, that is unnatural and monstrous [and the same goes for denominations, one worrying another].” Can you imagine little lambs scaring each other? That’s bizarre. That’s his point.
5. The Church’s witness
Verses 21-22, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou has sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” If you give me one more minute, I’ll make my last point. But that’s what happens, we’re little lambs, again, fighting each other, little lambs. Anyway, verse 22, ‘The glory which you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.’ But then in verse 21, he says about unity, ‘That the world may believe that you sent me.’ This point of witness goes with unity. There’s no power if there’s no unity. There’s no witness if there’s no unity. The witness is destructive [without unity]. And that’s the last point on his heart is the Church’s unity, but also the Church’s witness. And the more the people in this community see love in our hearts for one another, the more they see the life of Christ. The less they see that, the less they see the life of Christ. And it’s so vital that there is a powerful witness. And it’s a witness that will especially be there as he prays about unity. [Have you ever noticed that the most successful Christian evangelistic organizations are non-denominational, or inter-denominational? They are successful because they are supported to one degree or another by many of the differing denominations. Differing secondary doctrinal beliefs do not get in the way when the differing denominations support an international non-denominational evangelistic organization. There’s no way differing secondary doctrines can do so. Interdenominational bickering and backbiting do not exist at this level of evangelism. That is why these non-denominational evangelistic organizations are so successful. The pastor unknowingly just gave the reason in this sermon why I encourage support of the three major international evangelistic organizations on the Mission Statement of this website (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/missionstatement.htm for details). It is probably the only way the differing denominations can come together in agreement on how to do the job of evangelism in a united manner, by supporting, and having their respective members support these organizations. You can do this on your own as well. Click on that link right above, taking you to this site’s Mission Statement. All the details are explained there, with contact information. You can support unified interdenominational world evangelism, even if your denomination isn’t willing to. And don’t forget to pray for unity, pray for unity in the local Christian churches in your city or town, your local community. And pray for general unity within the body of Christ, that Jesus would take measures to force the denominational leaders to drop the bickering attitudes, agreeing to disagree on the minor issues and beliefs, while agreeing on the major ones. Make these two requests part of your daily prayers, and let’s see some miracles take place. Another way to help bring unity is by trying to better understand some of the major denominations by learning about their history, getting to know one another, where we came from. That is the intent of this site’s Church History section, Messianic section, and Early Church History section (see left-hand nav bar). Better understanding each other helps bring unity as well.]
I’ll just read to the end. Verses 23-26, “I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you gave me, may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which you have given me.” So he prays that they would go to heaven. You can know you’re going to heaven. When he prays, his prayers get answered. Prays the Church would go to heaven, ‘that they would behold my glory,’ see his glory, ‘which you have given me.’ [That is the particular secondary belief of this denomination, but not of some others, who believe this is talking about believers being with Jesus in Jerusalem during the Millennial Kingdom of God, cf. Revelation 20:4-6, and thereafter in the New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven, cf. Revelation 21:1-17, and that forever may be the dwelling place of the saints with Jesus and the Father and Holy Spirit. No time element is placed on this prayer request of Jesus, so it could be either. Not important, we’ll find out later.] “For you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me. And I have declared to them your name, and will declare it, that the love which you loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Unity, love, let’s close in prayer…” [transcript of a sermon on John 17:1-26, given somewhere in New England.]
Evangelism, the Church’s witness: Get the BIG picture of how Jesus uses the differing parts of the body of Christ as a cohesive unit for evangelism. Log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/1.htm
Learn how UNITYINCHRIST.COM promotes this BIG picture through a $5.00 a week program. As you will see when you read this Mission Statement, it appears it was written after this pastor gave this sermon, as the two very exact points about unity and evangelism going hand in hand are made. But this site’s Mission Statement was written a few years before, as I recall. Same God, same Jesus, inspiring us both through the same indwelling Holy Spirit. Is that so surprising? See http://www.unityinchrist.com/missionstatement.htm .
Let’s get to know each other. Church history section links: