Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Jesus Prays For UNITY - That The World Might Believe

Scripture: (King James Version)
St. John 17: 1-2, 6, 9, and 20-21
"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes 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."
vs 6 -"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."
vs. 9 -"I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."
vs. 20-21 -"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."

I am lifting 5 words from the 21st verse for my emphasis...
                          "that the world may believe...
In addition to these words please notice verse 23 as well, "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 love me."

There have been many applications made to this prayer of our Lord.  This was a great prayer of intercession before the Heavenly Father.  Recently I heard a minister put great emphasis on the fact that Jesus says in this prayer (vs.9) "I pray not for the world..."    To isolate those words from the rest of our Lords prayer in this scripture could leave the impression that the world had no place in the heart of the Redeemer; that He was not concerned about the world.  But, I want you to notice that although Jesus was praying for His disciples at this time, He was thinking of the world.  The world was upon His heart!  Jesus desired that the world would believe and know the LOVE of the Father.

Here in this prayer He shows His concern that the church - His followers/disciples - would be in that place where they could win the world for Him; they could be a witness.  As the "light of the world" and the "salt of the earth" God's people are the means of showing Gods LOVE and Gods righteousness to the rest of the world.  He has committed a great trust to you and I who know the risen and redeeming Lord.  We need to constantly consider the things that kill our influence.  We must live by truth, commitment and concern.  In verse 15 our Lord prayed not that the body of believers be taken out of the world but that they are kept from the evil or the evil one that is "in" the world.

One of the most potent and powerful ways to draw the world to the Kingdom of Christ is that those within it, manifest the beauty of Gods holiness and righteousness.  Jesus prays that the church be kept from sin.  
   There is power in a pure and holy life!  
We are "in" the world but "not of" the world.....so that we might win the world....so that we bring lost souls into the Kingdom of God.   Jesus said, in verse 17, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

A bit further down,  verse 21 Jesus prays for the UNITY of the church.  "That they all may be one....that the world may believe."  This prayer has been so grossly misapplied!  It has been used as reason for ecumenical even when agreement was lacking.  Some organizations like to use the saying, "love unites - doctrine divides."  But, the early church continued steadfast in apostle doctrine.  Jude 1:3 "....it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."   It has also been used for deploring the existence of many denominations.  Notice - Jesus was praying for those who were the Fathers possession; born again, those that have received Christ as their Savior and have come out of the world.  These were followers who had been given The Word and received it.  They knew the works of Jesus were from God and that Jesus came from God.  They were filled with His love.  It was this class of people whom He prayed to be "one" in Christ and God.

Notice the qualifying phrases of Jesus prayer, "one even as we are one....one in us."
One as Jesus and the Father are one.  This is the kind and type of "oneness" Jesus is praying in His prayer.  He is praying that all who believe may be unified with the same unity that exists between Him and the Father........."that the world may believe."  The world will not believe until they see the church unified.  The world sees strife - jealousy - bitterness- hatred - criticism, etc.  They see "the Christian" living contrary to what they profess and what the Bible teaches.  This saddens the heart of Jesus!
                What does the world see in us today? 
                            What do those in our community see?
                                 Do they witness UNITY 
           among those who claim to be followers of Christ?  
Are they observing the beauty of Gods holiness and righteousness                
                                   in our pure living?
                  Are they being shown the LOVE of God?  
Do the people we come in contact with each and every day desire to "believe" in our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ?  Do they want what we have?
Please study the scripture to understand what God would like to reveal to you through His Word - His truth.