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  We Must Go On Loving John 17:6-26: “I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one:” (v22)

This is the bottom line word; and the watch word from the author of life for every true Christian of all ages! No one familiar with history and jealous for the honour of our Lord Jesus can help feeling unutterably sad when he or she reads the stories of how one section of His Church has persecuted another; the burning and torturing of Protestants in one generation and the burning and torturing of Roman Catholics in another and vice versa. And all this undertaken in the name of Christ, who said in John 13:35 “35 By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves]” just as I showed to all of you when I was in your midst! And have kept showing to you even now that I am working in your midst in My Holy Spirit! Nor is it all now ancient history. Even today, poisoned words are still flung about between one Christian group and another. Men and women wound each other in the most tender part of their souls and think that they do God service in so doing. In bigotry and prejudice there is almost always the disposition to persecute, kill, injure even with word than with sword. Circumstances may prevent it finding any fiercer expression than through barbed or sarcastic words, but then words can sometimes wound more deeply than swords. The hateful heart of a bigot’s sin is that he or she fails in love. People often ask me, ‘What are we to do when others fail in love towards us; when they speak contemptuously of our particular viewpoint; when they deride our doctrines; when they say we are not really part of Christ’s Bride; when they pour scorn on our sincerity?’ First, we must remember that many religion fails in this particularly; and the answer is –we must go on loving and not retaliate in any form. We must meet slander with affection, scorn with service, and ostracism with the right hand of fellowship. We should always remember that we are followers of Him (Jesus Christ) who said, ‘Do not forbid [such people]; for whoever is not against you is for you” as seen in Luke 9:50. If it is hard for you to practice, then remember Lord Jesus knows exactly how you feel. He, too, was the victim of bigotry and prejudice. Let His wounds heal your wounds; that is the Spirit!

  The Prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ that we may be one; as seen in John 17:6-26:

The chapter of John 17 has the following contents: 1. Christ's prayer for Himself as seen in verses 1-5. 2. His prayer for His disciples as seen in verses 6-10 and 3. His other prayer as seen in verses 11-26. John 17:1-5; Our Lord prayed as a man, and as the Mediator of His people; yet He spoke with majesty and authority, as one with and equal to the Father. Eternal life could not be given to believers, unless Christ, their Surety, both and first glorified the Father, and was glorified of Him. This is the assured sinner's way to eternal life, and when this divine knowledge shall be made perfect, the essentialness of holiness and happiness will first be clearly understood; then zealously pursued and finally be fully enjoyed by the many who will be successful in their chase of it. The holiness and happiness of the redeemed, are especially that glory of Christ, and of His Father, which was the joy set before Him, for which He stepped out leaving His rainbow circled throne and endured the cross and despised the shame; this glory was the end of the sorrow of His soul, and in obtaining it He was fully satisfied. Thus by this explained fact we are taught that our glorifying God is needed as an evidence of our interest in Christ, through whom eternal life is God's free gift. Hence the song: My Father’s Home of grace My rainbow circled throne I left it all for thee; what has thou given to Me? We definitely do not have anything to give to Him than to give our life to Him just as He gave His life for us! John 17:6-10; Christ prays for those that are His. Thou gavest them Me, as sheep to the shepherd, to be kept; as a patient to the physician, to be cured; as children to a tutor, to be taught: thus He will deliver up His charge. It is a great satisfaction to us, in our reliance upon Christ, that He, all He is and has, and all He said and did, all He is doing and will do, are of God for us. Christ offered this prayer for His people alone as believers; not for the world at large. Yet no one who desires to come to the Father, and is conscious that he is unworthy to come in his own name, need be discouraged by the Saviour's declaration, for He is both able and willing to save to the uttermost, all that come unto God by Him. Earnest convictions and desires, are hopeful tokens of a work already wrought in a man; they begin to evidence that he has been chosen unto salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. They are thine; wilt thou not provide for thine own? Wilt thou not secure them? Observe the foundation on which this plea is grounded, All mine are thine, and thine are mine. This speaks the Father and Son to be one. All mine are thine. The Son owns none for His, that are not devoted to the service of the Father. This is the true meaning of: All mine are Thine! Do you truly practice this principle in your life with regard to all what you own here on earth? John 17:11-16; Christ does not pray that they might be rich and great in the world as we often wrongly thought that He did, but that they might be kept from sin, strengthened for their duty, and brought safe to heaven (home). How many of us do this to our children, instead whenever we come to God the only thing we ask God for our children is God make them rich and great! We do not ask God to keep them from sin, to strengthen them in their good business and to keep them safe; do we? Some of us don’t even know the kind of business that our children do whether good or bad, all we know is that they are bringing huge money home. We do not pray for the prosperity of their soul which is doing thing right and good with their fellow man. The prosperity of the soul is the best prosperity. Our Lord Jesus pleaded with His holy Father, that He would keep them (His people) by His power and for His glory, that they might be united in affection (love) and labours, even according to the union of the Father and the Son; which He represents. He did not pray that His disciples should be removed out of the world, that they might escape the rage of men, for they had a great work to do for the glory of God, and the benefit of mankind. But He prayed that the Father would keep them from the evil, from being corrupted by the world, its goodies and people, from the remains of sin in their hearts, and from the power and craft of Satan. Do you now see all what we should always pray for: first that we might escape the rage of men in the world, for God to keep us from evil, God to keep us from the corruption in the world, God to help us clear the remains of sin in our hearts so that devil will not always seek to take advantage of it to undo us, God to save us from the power and craftiness of the Satan. This last request of Lord Jesus, which is to save us from Satan’s power and craft, is the ultimate! So that they (His people) might pass through the world as through an enemy's country, as He had done serving as our example. They are not left here to pursue the same objects as the men and women around them, but to glorify God, and to serve their generation. The Spirit of God in true Christians is opposed to the spirit of the world. You glorify God when you use all of yourself, all your possessions and life to serve God and man selflessly. John 17:17-19; Christ next prayed for the disciples, that they might not only be kept from evil, but made good. It is the prayers of Lord Jesus for all that are His, that they may be made holy. Even disciples must pray for sanctifying grace. The means of giving this grace that sanctifies is, "through thy truth, thy word is truth." I do not know how many of you noticed how the word of God last Sunday penetrated the heart of one of our members bringing out many hidden intent and thought which none of us would have known is in his heart. Lord Jesus said, Sanctify them, and set them apart for thyself and thy service. In other words purge their hearts so that they will become pure in heart and distinct people for You. Own them in the office; let thy hand go with them He said. Lord Jesus entirely devoted Himself to His undertaking, and all the parts of it, especially the offering up Himself without spot unto God, by the eternal Spirit. The real holiness of all true Christians is the fruit of Christ's death, by which the gift of the Holy Ghost was purchased; He gave Himself for His church, to sanctify it. If our views have not this effect on us, which is the giving of our self to God’s service they are not Divine truth, or we do not receive them by a living and a working faith, but as mere notions. So ask yourself if your Christian claims have this view of using the gift of the Holy Spirit, the presence of God in you, the indwelling of God in you to first sanctify yourself, which is the giving of yourself for true God’s service to man. If that is not the view you have, then the word of God says that you are getting it all wrong! Please look for where you will get it right! John 17:20-23; Our Lord Jesus especially prayed, that all believers might be as one body under one head, animated by one soul, by their union with Christ and the Father in Him, through the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. The more they dispute about lesser things, the more they throw doubts upon Christianity. When we look at what is the brother’s problem last week is it not as a result of dispute about lesser things of life? Let us endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, praying that all believers may be more and more united in one mind and one judgment. Thus shall we convince the world of the truth and excellence of our religion, and find more sweet communion with God and His saints. John 17:24-26; Christ, as one with the Father, claimed on behalf of all that had been given to Him, and should in due time believe on Him, that they should be brought to heaven; and that there the whole company of the redeemed might behold His glory as their beloved Friend and Brother, and therein find happiness. He had declared and would further declare the name or character of God, by His doctrine and His Spirit, that, being one with Him, the love of the Father to Him might abide with them also. Thus, being joined to Him by one Spirit, they might be filled with all the fullness of God, and enjoy a blessedness of which we can form no right idea in our present state. The present state of man is very deprave and as such he cannot think and reason rightly. In this light let us consider once again our brother’s thought and intended action, he said that people are gossiping with his name in the community, as a result he wanted not to drive the man of God any more, is the man of God the one gossiping with his name? We have got to always allow the Spirit of God to guide us. in a man’s life, two spirits one of God the other of Satan are always struggling who directs the thought, intent and action of man in each moment of the day but it is God’s will that we try to give Him God the advantage and not Satan. Now let us read John 17:6-26; 6 I have manifested Your Name [I have revealed Your very Self, Your real Self] to the people whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they have obeyed and kept Your word. 7 Now [at last] they know and understand that all You have given Me belongs to You [is really and truly Yours]. 8 For the [uttered] words that You gave Me I have given them; and they have received and accepted [them] and have come to know positively and in reality [to believe with absolute assurance] that I came forth from Your presence, and they have believed and are convinced that You did send Me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying (requesting) for the world, but for those You have given Me, for they belong to You. 10 All [things that are] Mine are Yours, and all [things that are] Yours belong to Me; and I am glorified in (through) them. [They have done Me honor; in them My glory is achieved.] 11 And [now] I am no more in the world, but these are [still] in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep in Your Name [[a]in the knowledge of Yourself] those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We [are one]. 12 While I was with them, I kept and preserved them in Your Name [[b]in the knowledge and worship of You]. Those You have given Me I guarded and protected, and not one of them has perished or is lost except the son of perdition [Judas Iscariot—the one who is now doomed to destruction, destined to be lost], that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 And now I am coming to You; I say these things while I am still in the world, so that My joy may be made full and complete and perfect in them [that they may experience My delight fulfilled in them, that My enjoyment may be perfected in their own souls, that they may have My gladness within them, filling their hearts]. 14 I have given and delivered to them Your word (message) and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world [do not belong to the world], just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that You will take them out of the world, but that You will keep and protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world (worldly, belonging to the world), [just] as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth. 18 Just as You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And so for their sake and on their behalf I sanctify (dedicate, consecrate) Myself, that they also may be sanctified (dedicated, consecrated, made holy) in the Truth. 20 Neither for these alone do I pray [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for all those who will ever come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) Me through their word and teaching, 21 That they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me. 22 I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one: 23 I in them and You in Me, in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and [definitely] recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them [even] as You have loved Me. 24 Father, I desire that they also whom You have entrusted to Me [as Your gift to Me] may be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory, which You have given Me [Your love gift to Me]; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O just and righteous Father, although the world has not known You and has failed to recognize You and has never acknowledged You, I have known You [continually]; and these men understand and know that You have sent Me. 26 I have made Your Name known to them and revealed Your character and Your very [c]Self, and I will continue to make [You] known, that the love which You have bestowed upon Me may be in them [felt in their hearts] and that I [Myself] may be in them.

  Introduction:

I am sure we all know that some years ago was a historic day for Singapore - the day when the first Youth Olympic Games was launched on their shores. The Olympic Games is recognized as the most important sports event in the world, participated by people from over 200 countries. What many of us may not know is that the Olympic Games was actually the result of an idea that a young Frenchman had in the year 1889. His name was Pierre de Coubertin. At that time the world was plagued by numerous wars and conflicts. Having lived through a terrible war in which his own country was defeated, Coubertin was looking for a way to promote peace and harmony between nations. He found his answer in the Olympic Games that was held in Greece in ancient times - it was the only time when all Greek city states that fought against one another called for a truce so that their athletes could travel and compete in the games safely. Coubertin's idea was to revive the Olympics and make it an international event held in a different country every 4 years. However his idea was not well-received at first and he faced a lot of difficulties. France refused to participate in the games because Germany was in it. Then Germany wanted to withdraw. Then the Greeks did not want to host the games unless they could run the whole show by themselves. Nevertheless Coubertin pressed on and the first Olympic Games was finally launched in 1896 with 241 athletes from 14 countries. It turned to be a great success and paved the way to launch other Olympic events like the Winter Olympics in 1921, the Paralympics in 1960, and the Youth Olympics some years later. All this began with one man's idea: An idea to bring all the world's nations together for a common interest in sports. Today we are going to see something even better than Coubertin’s idea. We are going to see how one prayer made by our Lord Jesus Christ spawned a growing movement that eventually brought people from every race, language and nationality together into one through a common faith and for a common goal. This is the longest recorded prayer that Lord Jesus ever made. It was made shortly before His arrest, trial and crucifixion. Listen to how Dr David Allen describes it, 'It is the special and peculiar prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus was about to go to the Garden of Gethsemane, to His agony, to be taken that very night, and be crucified the next morning, and laid in the grave within 24 hours of this prayer rising to heaven. Before He poured out His blood to redeem His people, He first poured out His soul in prayer and supplication for them. This is without question the most wonderful prayer that ever rose from earth to the Throne of God.' This prayer has also been an inspiration to God's people in all ages. When John Knox, the founder of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, was very sick on his deathbed, he called to his wife and said, 'Read me that Scripture where I first cast my anchor.' After he listened to the beautiful prayer of our Lord Jesus as recorded in John 17, he seemed to forget his weakness. He began to pray, interceding earnestly for his fellowmen. He prayed for the ungodly who had thus far rejected the gospel. He pleaded on behalf of people who had been recently converted. And he requested protection for the Lord's servants, many of whom were facing persecution. As Knox prayed, his spirit went Home to be with the Lord. The main reason why this prayer is so wonderful and brings so much comfort, is that it reminds us that our Lord Jesus prays for us. He is interceding for us continually before God's throne. Turn your Bibles with me to Hebrews 7:25 “25 Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.” What is it that makes His intercession so important? How effective are the prayers that Christ makes for us in Heaven right now? We will catch a glimpse of the answers to these questions as we study the intercessory prayer that Lord Jesus made on earth as recorded here in John 17. There are two important points that we can learn about the prayers our Lord Jesus makes for us: The first is that they I. Will keep us safe, joyful, and holy in a sinful world as seen in vv.6-19; when we look at all what is happening in the world today especially in our nation Nigeria, we do not need anybody to tell us that all we Christians need today is no other than the Lord’s intercessory prayers in John 17. When we read the first 5 verses of this prayer, we will see that Lord Jesus began by praying for Himself. But now as we come to verse 6, we see that all His thoughts are directed toward the welfare of His disciples. We notice that there are almost 3 times more verses in this segment than in the previous segment where Lord Jesus prayed for Himself. This shows that He was far more concerned about His disciples than about Himself. He was very conscious about the weaknesses of His disciples in the face of the wickedness and distress that they would encounter in the world. In fact in the previous chapter of John, Lord Jesus had already predicted that they would desert Him right at the moment of crisis 'Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone’ as seen in John 16:32. Lord Jesus also knew that Peter, the chief of His disciples would publicly deny Him three times under intense pressure. And yet, in spite of knowing all of this, He prayed for them with great confidence that they would all be kept by the Father's power and prepared for a future effective ministry. We see this in vv.11-14. He asked the Father to protect His disciples from the persecution of the world and from the plans of the Devil, because He was now going to leave them soon, and they would soon be on their own. Without Him, they would become quite vulnerable and weak and their faith might even fail. This is exactly what happens to an individual when Christ is forced out of your heart in anger and other fowl circumstances nearly beyond our control. Our brother last Sunday was under anger and other fowl circumstances that was why Christ was nearly forced out of him, let us always try to guide against such times in life. If that were to happen, then all the training that Lord Jesus had invested in them for 3 years would be wasted, and the message of salvation would have perished with the disciples. So He prayed for their protection and preservation. Was His prayer answered? Yes, very evidently so, because when we read the book of Acts, we learn that this small little band of disciples eventually grew against all odds to become a strong movement that turned the whole world upside down with the Gospel. This is exactly what I was trying to communicate to our elder last Sunday when I asked if he could remember how he was welcomed into the fold of God in spite of all his past that God wants him first to be saved then to grow and wax strong in Him capable of facing all odds like the gossips with his name so that he will be able to be used of God to turn things around in his family and his community at large making God’s movement which the evil ones wants to stop a strong one in his area. Since then, the prayers of our Lord Jesus have not failed to preserve His church throughout all ages and even up till today. The Gospel continues to go forth and bring salvation to thousands of souls everyday because our Lord Jesus is earnestly praying for all His people. And dearly beloved, it should bring us the greatest comfort and encouragement to know that if His prayer for His first disciples was able to protect and preserve them so well at that time, His prayers for us will also do the same for each of us right now, which I know it started doing even before we knew that the Elder had a strong battle in his mind to abandon God and follow those whom he knows very well had abandoned God who wants him to follow them. It is my pleasure to tell you that the elder after God helped him to have a change of mind came after service thanking mummy, saying that we do not know what heavy load the Lord God removed from his heart and mind on Sunday and mummy told him please do not allow this kind of temptation to take hold of your mind this way again because it is too daring, how can you be carrying the man of God with such load of rancour and animosity in your mind over little things of life and yet be pretending as if all is well? Lord Jesus knows it all, He knows all our weaknesses and has promised to keep and preserve us especially in time of temptation. What happened last Sunday is a lesson for all of us telling us that it is when we are in temptation that we need to be closer to the Lord God more and not running away from Him just as many people did in the past which may have compounded their cases. Leaving or running away from God as Adam and Eve did when sin took hold of them is not the proper thing to do when in temptation of this kind that is why you see king David’s example, no matter how bad and smelly David’s sin is he always like to come to and talk it out with the Lord God and that is the example Lord Jesus prayed for when He ask God not to take His disciples out of the world because of sin rather He asked God that we should make us to remain in the world and learn how to handle sin with God and His Holy Spirit and wax strong in our own spirit. Some of us are coping with unexpected setbacks in their life. One is a dear brother who is very actively serving the Lord in our church. A few weeks ago he experienced diarrhea and thought that it was just a bout of gastric flu. But after it did not respond to medication, his doctor conducted some tests, and discovered that he had stage 3 colo-rectal cancer said the narrator. He took the news very well and is undergoing chemotherapy treatment to shrink the cancer before going for an operation. But what strikes me is that despite his illness he still continues to serve the Lord in ways that he still can serve, that is the spirit. How is he able to do this? The prayers of our Lord Christ are obviously sustaining him. What is it then that makes the prayers of Christ for us so effective? I would like us to observe that there are three reasons given in this passage why the prayers of our Lord Jesus for us are guaranteed to protect and preserve us: Firstly Lord Jesus prayers for us are based on God's ownership of our lives. Look at v.6 of our text, it says '6 I have manifested Your Name [I have revealed Your very Self, Your real Self] to the people whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they have obeyed and kept Your word.’ again look also at vv.9 & 10, '9 I am praying for them. I am not praying (requesting) for the world, but for those You have given Me, for they belong to You. 10 All [things that are] Mine are Yours, and all [things that are] Yours belong to Me; and I am glorified in (through) them. [They have done Me honor; in them My glory is achieved.]’ What all these verses emphasize is God’s ownership of us: The disciples belong both to God the Father and God the Son. Therefore, if you are a believer, this is the basis on which Christ prays is for you 'You are His!' You are very precious in His sight. Surely both Father and Son would do everything to protect what belongs to them. The words of a familiar hymn have put this across very well: 'The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to his foes. That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake, I'll never, no never, no never forsake! Did you hear the wordings of that hymn which is what I am trying to emphasise that running away from the Lord when sin tempts you is not the solution rather remaining with the Lord God in your temptation and pleading with Him for His mercy and grace, begging Him to save you from all of it is the right standing with the Lord God Almighty. So please from today let me not see any member of HOJ running away because of shame of any kind, what people will say, even when they are saying just tell yourself that you must remain with the Lord your God because you have not come to serve people. Secondly, the prayers of Christ are based on His ministry of revealing God's Word to us. Look at how Lord Jesus prayed for His 11 disciples in v.14 '14 I have given and delivered to them Your word (message) and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world [do not belong to the world], just as I am not of the world.’ In the same way Lord Jesus prays for us that the Word of God He has invested in us will work powerfully in our lives to keep us faithful, always remember this. And He knows precisely what that divine Word is able to do in our lives. Look at what He prays for in v.17 '17 Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth.’ Lord Jesus knows that the Word He has invested in us can sanctify our lives by changing us from within, and He prays for that inward work of His Word in our lives to always take place when we are faced with temptation. Always allow the word of God to purify our heart! Whenever the word of God purifies your heart, you will be able to reason properly and not fall away from God no matter the issue. Thirdly, the prayers of Christ are based on the Holiness of God and of Christ Himself. We notice that in v.11 Lord Jesus refers to God as 'Holy Father.' In v.19, Lord Jesus speaks of His own holiness as guaranteeing the maintenance of holiness in the lives of His disciples. He said '19 And so for their sake and on their behalf I sanctify (dedicate, consecrate) Myself, that they also may be sanctified (dedicated, consecrated, made holy) in the Truth.’ The word 'to sanctify' means to set apart, or to make holy. Here Lord Jesus says, 'I sanctify myself' - what did He mean by that? Not that He intended to make Himself more holy than He already was. Rather, it means that Lord Jesus was devoting Himself to God completely by dying on the cross for His disciples. This would be the grounds for the maintenance of their holiness before God. And now our Lord permanently bears on His body the marks of that act of sanctifying Himself - the bleeding wounds inflicted on Him at Calvary. Whenever any accusations, questions or doubts arise about our sanctification, Lord Jesus can immediately silence them by showing these wounds as the proof that our sins have already been fully dealt with on the cross. Did you hear that? So why would you not learn to allow Him to teach you through what you are passing through in life how to be sanctified like Him? These wounds are irrevocable evidence that He has paid for all our sins and that all the wonderful spiritual blessings of sanctification - which include the development of a Christ-like life, peace, joy, and strength for living in the midst of wolves- are now ours and they cannot be taken away from us. What great comfort we have therefore, from these words that Lord Jesus said in v.19 'And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.' Thus we have seen that the prayers of Lord Jesus are guaranteed to keep us because they are based on 3 things: God's ownership of our lives, His ministry of revealing God's Word to us, and the Holiness of God and of Lord Jesus Himself. When we consider these 3 things on which His prayers for us are based on, we can all see why no one can ever intercede for us better than Christ can. But the Roman Catholic Church would have us believe that the intercession of Mary is better than that of Christ because she was His mother. It would also have us believe that God has assigned a patron saint to intercede for every department of human life, so there is a patron saint of health, a patron saint of finance, a patron saint of transport, a patron saint of farmers, a patron saint of children, and special feasts are held in honour of each saint to solicit their prayers. All these are manmade dogmas, the Lord God never originated that, the one He originated is the one we are to follow. But none of these can be better intercessors for us than our Lord Jesus. Firstly, none of them can rightfully claim ownership of our lives. Secondly, none of them can plead for us on the basis of having invested God's Word in our lives. Thirdly, none of them can ever plead for us on the basis of his or her own sanctification for us, because no human being, not even the most godly saint in the world, can ever suffer and die on behalf of sinners. Therefore our Lord Jesus alone deserves that honour of being our intercessor. We must always trust in Him alone to help us and to keep us safe, joyful, and holy in a sinful world. That is the first point we learn from this passage about Christ’s prayers for us. Let us go on to look at the second point. In vv.20-26 we see that Christ's prayers for us:

  II. Will keep us united in testifying for Him in the world as seen in vv.20-26;

In these last 7 verses of His prayer Lord Jesus looked far beyond His own time on earth. Which of the saints did that or can do that, looking far beyond His own time on earth? He was now praying for all future believers in ages to come. That includes all of us here who believe in Christ. Look at v.20 and notice how He coined His prayer: '20 Neither for these alone do I pray [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for all those who will ever come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) Me through their word and teaching,’ waooh what a brilliant way to coining prayer and this can only be done by One who is all knowing and who can see and perceive what mortal man cannot see or perceive. What did Jesus pray for all believers? That we might be one! Notice that this petition is mentioned altogether 4 times in this chapter – in vv.11, 21,22 and 23. Why did Lord Jesus pray that we might be one? One reason for this is that Lord Jesus being omniscient, may have already foreseen the potential division between Jewish believers and Gentile believers in the church. He had foreseen the problems that the church faced after Acts chapter 10 when the Gospel crossed the threshold to the Gentiles which culminated in the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 to settle them. Perhaps Lord Jesus had foreseen the difficulties that would exist when believers from different nations, cultures, backgrounds and interests come together to serve Him together as one. He would also have foreseen the problem between the Hebrew-speaking Jews and Greek-speaking Jews in Acts 6 which arose over the distribution of relief to the widows. He would also have known about the problems between rich believers and poor believers highlighted in James' epistle, and the differences over personalities in the church of Corinth where some were of Paul, some of Apollos, some of Cephas and some of Christ; very great divisions, which is still going on even till today. He would also have foreseen the difficulties in the Philippian church caused by two women, Euodias and Syntyche, who could not agree with one another because of their different mindsets. Is this not like what happened on Sunday? So you can see that our problem is not knowing God’s word, if we do there are many things or problems we can solve by simply avoiding them, which is why the Lord thought us the other time not to allow ourselves to be where the devil will have advantage to tempt us. I say this because I am sure if Elder has not been in those places where people told him how his name is being gossiped with, he would not have had such a terrible temptation. Perhaps Lord Jesus had also foreseen how these differences would greatly disrupt their task of giving the same gospel message to the world. There is the danger that they would get so caught up in all kinds of disputes and disagreements that they would never be able to work together to accomplish God’s Work of evangelism and missions. There is also the danger that the world would be turned away from Christ when they see the believers constantly quarrelling and conflicting with one another. This is exactly what they want to introduce into HOJ through the community members, the headquarters members should not allow it! And there is also the danger that the preaching of the gospel would suffer and become quite distorted when each group insists on remaining distinct and have nothing to do with the rest. It was Christ's intention that His church will not suffer from these dangers and so He prayed for unity. However, today there is a movement that tries to use this very passage to justify their goal of an unholy unity. The goal of this ecumenical movement is to unite all churches into a visible organization, a one-world church. The biggest ecumenical body today is the World Council of Churches which was started in 1948. Today it has a membership of 349 churches and denominations of every shade of doctrine. Those churches and denominations claim about 560 million Christians throughout more than 110 countries. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the World Council yet, but it has been actively participating in it, and is a member of some other ecumenical sub-groups like the National Council of Churches in Australia and the National Council of Churches in Brazil. All ecumenists would claim that since our Lord prayed for unity in John 17, we should show the world that all Christians are united by forgetting our differences and joining hands together. But if we understand what kind of unity our Lord Jesus was praying for in this passage we will see how wrong it is to promote this kind of unity. What Lord Jesus prayed for was not an ecumenical or organizational unity but a spiritual unity. Look at vv. 22-23 '22 I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one: 23 I in them and You in Me, in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and [definitely] recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them [even] as You have loved Me.’ These verses clearly speak of a unity that is based on the Lordship of Christ. It is only when we share Christ as our Lord, that we can be joined together as one. But the Ecumenical movement does not have Christ as Lord. They seek to unite together every group, cult and religion that honours or does not honour Christ, including the Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. For example, in March 2005 when the World Council of Churches had its conference on Missions and Evangelism in Athens, the following statement was issued: 'As Christians we seek to build a new relationship with other religious traditions because we believe it to be intrinsic to the gospel message and inherent to our mission as co-workers with God in healing the world’ Listen to what the South African Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, said in favour of the ecumenical movement: 'After all, God is not a Christian; Jesus was quite serious when He said that God was our Father and that we belonged all to one family, because in this family all, not some, are insiders. None is an outsider black and white, yellow and red, rich and poor, educated and non-educated, beautiful and not so beautiful, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, all belong, all are held in a divine embrace that will not let us go, for God has no enemies. Bush, Bin Laden, all belong, gay, lesbian, so-called straight, all belong and are loved, are precious.’ Dearly beloved, how can we have Christian unity with the Ecumenical movement when the main criterion for Christian unity - the Lordship of Christ - has been removed from it? Let us understand this carefully: The kind of unity that Lord Jesus prayed for in John 17 is not a visible unity that we need to promote by organizing big conferences attended by thousands of people to make the world feel that Christians are a mighty force to reckon with. Rather, it was a unity of spirit, a unity of purpose in promoting His Christ work and in honouring Christ alone as the only legitimate Saviour and Lord of this world. Everyone recognizes the great value of unity. I am sure you have heard the well-known saying, 'United we stand, divided we fall!' But the emphasis is often on the word 'we.' Unity for the sake of enabling a people to stand strong to face challenges can easily become a misplaced trust and can give us a false illusion of power. As believers we do not any more say, 'United we stand, divided we fall!' We would rather say, 'If God be for us who can be against us?' as seen in Romans 8:31. Our trust is not in our unity, but in God who makes us one. And our goal for unity is to glorify the Lord, and not self. In contrast to this, the unity of the world always has man's glory as its ultimate goal. A case in point was the Tower of Babel where the people united themselves together to build a huge monument to make a name for themselves. You can read about this in Genesis 11. We must always be careful not to import these worldly ideas of unity into our concept of Christian unity. When a church grows to a huge size like a megachurch there is sometimes the sinful tendency to put its trust in numbers rather than in the Lord, and to proudly glorify itself rather than the Lord. Learn a good lesson from how God reduced the united armies of Gideon from 30,000 to just 300, so that all the glory of his victory over the Midianites would clearly be God's alone. Unity is good, but only so far as it serves God's purposes, not ours. And we ought to pursue the right kind of unity - unity of spirit and purpose. Such spiritual unity can be seen whenever Christians from Bible-believing churches and from different parts of the world meet one another, fellowship together and work together to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ and promote His truth in the world, whether in small groups, in prayer meetings, or in conferences. This spiritual unity must be very important to us. In Ephesians 4:3 “3 Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.” Paul says that, we must endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This is a commitment that every member of the body of Christ must be willing to make. And it can sometimes be a great challenge to do this. There are so many issues that can cause division among Christian brethren. Unity is disrupted whenever discord tears believers apart and sets us at variance with one another. And this is nothing else but the result of sin which still resides in our nature as remaining sin and makes us self-centered and very wicked creatures. Whenever we have to face questions on what to do about issues where we differ from other Christians we can use a guideline provided by Peter Meiderlin, 'In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and in all things charity.' If there is no agreement on essential doctrines (e.g. the inspiration of the Scriptures, the deity of Christ, salvation by faith alone without works), then there is absolutely no basis for fellowship or for doing the Lord's work together. But if there is no agreement on non-essential doctrines (e.g. difference in church government, mode of baptism or views of Christ's return) then we can exercise Christian liberty and charity. And whenever we see Bible-believing Christians enjoying fellowship together and serving Christ together we can say with the psalmist in Psalm 133:1 ' 1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!’ ‘’Lee ka osi dim ma bu mmeko nke umu nne...’’How wonderful it is to know that through Christ's prayer for us in John 17 we can now enjoy this kind of oneness. How wonderful it is also to know that through His continuing prayers for us in heaven we will be kept safe, joyful and holy in the world. And how wonderful it is to know that Christ's prayers for us will always be heard and answered because of the special relationship He has with God the Father. May the Lord take these words and help us to apply them for His glory in our daily living. Amen!

  

O Father my Lord and my God, forgive me for the fact that we, Your people, the people called by Your name, have so fragmented Your image in the world by our bickering, our bigotry and our lack of love; Your Love. Forgive me and restore me back into Your sheepfold Lord Jesus. In Your name Lord Jesus I pray. Amen!