KNOWING THE FATHER AND THE SON
Copyright © 2017 Robert B Thompson. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
"You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me." (Isaiah 43:10)
The seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John is, in my opinion, the holiest chapter of the Bible. It tells us that we are to become one with each other and with the Father and the Son in the same manner that the Father and the Son are One.
Do you remember reading. in the 21st chapter of the Book of Revelation, about the wall of the new Jerusalem? Well, the seventeenth chapter of John describes that wall. It is the separation of the Royal Priesthood, the glorified Christian Church, from the saved people (the "sheep") drawn from the nations of the earth.
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you." (John 17:1)
Some Christian leaders have taught that because Christ is in us, we should pray to the inner Christ. Others have said if we can get a number of Christians to pray together we have more power than if we pray alone, because of all of the inner Christs.
This is an error. It is true that Christ is in us. But there also is a Father in Heaven to whom we are to pray, not to the Christ in us. We are to look toward the Father in Heaven when we pray, not to our inner Christ.
"The hour has come," reminds us that God moves at specific times. During the days in which we are living, the "third week" of redemption is being fulfilled spiritually. We are to walk close to Jesus and pray continually that we might know what the Spirit of God is saying to us at this time.
We come to know God by walking with God.
Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. (Exodus 23:14)
During this "third week" God will create in His image those who cooperate with His Spirit. It was God's intention when He created mankind that man (male and female) would behave as God behaves; and that man would be God's house, God's home, God's rest, and the place of God's throne.
When God is finished redeeming us, we all will be able to say, as did Jesus, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." This means that we behave in a given situation as the Father would. We are meek. We forgive our enemies. We are generous, and kind to the needy; and so forth.
The six days of creation are all working to this end. We now are entering the seventh day, the eternal Sabbath, and we are to cease from our own ambitions and plans and rest with God as His Word continues to accomplish what God spoke concerning man on the sixth day.
To glorify the Son is to clothe Him with the Shekinah, the righteousness, holiness, love, joy, and peace of the Father. To observe the speaking and acting of Christ is to hear and see the Father. The moral behavior of our Lord Jesus Christ is the express image of the Father—that to which man is called to be, and shall be when the Father has completed His work in us.
This does not mean we will be as exalted in authority as our Lord, but that we will behave as He does.
God also glorified Christ by the works of power He performed; and by the Divine truth of the words He spoke. No teacher ever spoke as Christ spoke, inviting His disciples to believe in Him as they believe in God; telling His disciples they must live in Him if they are to bear the fruit of the image of God in themselves as well as in other people.
We always are to keep in mind that the goal of our salvation is not eternal residence in Heaven but to think, speak, and otherwise behave in concert with the Lord Jesus Christ, who speaks, thinks, and speaks in concert with the Father.
This high goal is possible because of the will and greatness of the Father working by His Spirit through Jesus Christ.
It is certain that we cannot glorify Christ until Christ glorifies us.
For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. (John 17:2)
Jesus possesses authority over all people, dead and living. But God has given specific people to Christ as His special inheritance. I am speaking now of true Israel, of the Christian Church, of the members of the Royal Priesthood. The new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian Church.
To be a member of true Israel has nothing to do with being a Jew or Gentile by physical birth. True Israel are those whom God has appointed to be His priests, under the Lord Jesus. Each one of them must have their time of interacting with the Lord, as did Jacob, until all of their past has been forgiven and God changes their name to "Israel" (the struggler with God).
I think that in many instances the believers are taught that God is the great resource in Heaven upon whom they can call in order to receive their every need and desire. Indeed, we should pray for our needs and desires. But God is much more than this.
God desires to be our friend. He does not choose to walk with us. We are to choose to walk with God. This is a conscious decision we must make. We must struggle with God until we know that God is blessing us and we have found favor with Him.
God does not intend to be reconciled to us in our adamic state. Rather, we must be reconciled to God.
This is the fundamental problem with the way "grace" is preached in our day. God is not anxious to join us in our ways. Rather His grace exercised through the Lord Jesus Christ will, if we cooperate, bring us into behavior that parallels the behavior of God. Then God finds favor with us, as He did with Jacob, and helps us to always walk with Him wherever He goes and whatever He does.
O to be a friend of God, as was Abraham! This is my deepest desire. How about you?
Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? (James 2:21)
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. (James 2:23)
The Book of James is an antidote for the Christian teaching of our day which overemphasizes "faith alone" apart from obedience to Christ.
Abraham was God's friend because he obeyed God's extraordinarily difficult command, in the matter of Isaac.
Notice how the Great Commission given to the Apostles has been perverted in our day:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19,20)
Do you see anything in the above commission about teaching people to believe in Jesus and to build churches? Neither do I.
"Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
Teaching them to believe? Teaching them to obey, not just to believe that He is the Son of God and spoke these admonitions!
Jesus knows we love Him when we obey His commands.
If you love me, keep my commands. (John 14:15)
If we would be a friend of God and of Christ we absolutely must keep their commands. "Keeping" the commands means obeying them, not hiding them in a vault for safe-keeping.
Jesus said His apostles were to make disciples. A disciple is one who does more than believe apart from their behavior. Rather they deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus. In the Christian churches in America, how many genuine disciples are there?
For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Can you see that Christ did not come at that time to give eternal life to the world, only to those persons the Father had given Him?
"Those persons" are Israel, the Church, called out from mankind to be trained as the priests of God; to know God and Christ in a very special way.
According to the Old Testament Prophets, multitudes of people all over the world will one day be brought to the Light of God shining from Israel.
Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:3)
From the resurrection of the Lord until the present hour has been, and yet is, the Church Era. Those not called to be members of the Church can be saved from wrath by believing in Christ and being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Also by being kind to the servants of Christ.
The members of the Royal Priesthood are being called out from the nations of mankind and the demands on them are total. The term "Church" means "called out." "Make disciples of all nations."
After Jesus returns, He and the firstfruits of His Church will govern the nations on the earth.
There will be a thousand years, during which the less mature of the Church will remain in the heavenly Zion and come to maturity under the teaching of those whom the Lord chooses. When they have been prepared, they will descend to the earth as the new Jerusalem and bring the Presence and guidance of God to the "sheep" saved from the nations.
Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34)
The verse above is not speaking to the Church but to those of the nations who have received Jesus Christ as their Lord. The Church is the "Kingdom" being prepared to assist the "sheep" from the nations as they learn to serve God.
By saying "He might give eternal life to all those you have given Him," John is indicating that the "called out," the members of the Church, the Body of Christ, are being addressed.
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
We probably think of "eternal life" as living forever in Heaven. Perhaps added to this, at least not being in Hell. But eternal life is a kind of life, and living forever is not the focus but a byproduct. Perhaps some of us would not care to live forever if we are in some kind of trouble or pain.
So eternal life is the knowledge of God.
This is what Paul was seeking, wasn't it:
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. (Philippians 3:8)
We may think that now we have "accepted Christ" we know Christ and the Father. I don't believe this is the case. There must be more to it than this, because Paul had "accepted Christ" on the road to Damascus, long before he wrote the Book of Philippians!
The members of the Royal Priesthood, after Jesus returns with His armies, will go all over the world bringing justice to the nations of the earth. They are the Body of the Servant of the Lord; the Body of Christ.
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1)
The world is in such a muddle today. Can you imagine the royal priests bringing justice when the self-centered political leaders are demanding that they themselves remain in power. But those who resist will be rendered powerless.
"You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. (Psalms 2:9,10)
To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—that one 'will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery' just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)
It is interesting to note the next verse:
I will also give that one the morning star. (Revelation 2:28)
The "Morning Star" refers to the forming of Christ in us until we are aware continually of His will for us—and we are obeying it. Thus we do not judge and govern the rebellious nations of the earth according to our own perceptions but obey the inner directions of the Morning Star.
Let us think for a bit about the expression, "Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ." What exactly does this mean? It certainly does not mean knowing about (theologic knowledge) God and Jesus. Paul would have been well aware of such information and not have been laying everything aside that he might know about the Father and Christ.
ETERNAL LIFE IS
1 Resurrection—strength and energy to our body.
2 Life—Being able to see and interact appropriately with the things of our environment.
3 Righteousness—Behavior that is according to God's Moral Law, which is God's Character.
4 Holiness—Freedom from unclean spirits.
5 Love—The ability to rise above personal offenses and to continue to have a relationship with the offender.
6 Joy—Happiness at all times, especially when faced with suffering, as was true of our Lord when approaching Gethsemane and Calvary.
7 Peace—The absence of anxiety, fear, worry, apprehension concerning the future. We are not striving toward a personal goal. Knowing how to place our burdens and cares on the Lord Jesus.
8 Home—Being home means we are living in the rest of God. Each moment we are looking to the Lord Jesus to see what is written concerning us from the foundation of the world, in order to understand what we should be doing or not doing. We are viewing our body much as one would view the animal that had been placed on the altar by the Jewish priest.
We are so intent on doing God's perfect will that we are praying continually in order to know what it is for right now.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalms 139:16)
The Bible says Christ Himself is the Resurrection (the giving of eternal energy and strength to our mortal body). Christ Himself is the Life (the love, joy, and peace that make living wonderful at times).
The Lord Jesus Christ is every one of the eight aspects of eternal life listed above. At this point we are explaining how knowing the Father and the Son are eternal life.
The new covenant is written in our mind and in our heart. The eight aspects of eternal life are written in our mind as what we are experiencing in life is interpreted by the teaching we receive from faithful ministers. God orders each of our days and provides circumstances that will, if we understand and accept them, teach us the several dimensions of eternal life.
1 Resurrection—strength and energy to our body (we will receive the strength and energy of resurrection when Jesus returns).
2 Life, Righteousness, Holiness, Love, joy, peace, Home—Being home means we are living in the rest of God.
These all are parts of the image of God. They are too powerful to be added to our personality by the efforts of our adamic nature, although we do well to imitate them to the best of our ability. Our task is to pray for them and then to be sternly obedient to the Spirit of God.
This is how the outward knowledge of the Father and the Son become eternal life to us.
Eternal life is a gift to us from the Father.
The following is how the inward knowledge of the Father and the Son become eternal life to us.
As Christ is formed in us, eternal energy, and life are added to us.
As Christ is formed in us, eternal righteousness is added to us.
As Christ is formed in us, eternal holiness if added to us.
As Christ is formed in us, eternal love is added to us.
As Christ is formed in us, eternal joy is added to us.
As Christ is formed in us, eternal peace is added to us.
As Christ is formed in us, eternal home is added to us.
God and Christ have become all these in us. It is participation in eternal energy, strength, righteousness, holiness, love, joy, and peace, rather than mere understanding.
We do not experience these as yet to any great extent. But in the Day of Resurrection we shall realize all these blessings in fullest, eternal form.
It reminds me of Jacob wrestling with God. When Jacob's will met God's requirement, his name became Israel—and thus he received the inheritance of the sons of God.
So the knowledge of God and Jesus actually is more than a mental grasp. It is participation in the Divine Nature. How wonderful to be sons and daughters of God!
I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. (John 17:4)
"Lord Jesus, I pray you will help each one of us finish the work you have given to us as an individual to do."
No person who has ever lived on the earth has performed the works of power that Jesus did. There have been highly esteemed people, but the miracles Christ did day after day were unique in the history of mankind.
Such works of power are not being performed today, at least not in the large nations. Perhaps they are in little known villages and we do not hear of them.
However, Revelation, Chapter Eleven, speaks of two witnesses. It is my belief the two witness will be Christ and His victorious saints. They shall bear witness under a double portion of the Spirit of God. Then the end of the present age will be here.
We may ask, why are there not spectacular miracles being formed by the Christian leaders of our day? I do not know. But I do understand that at any time God chooses He can raise up apostles and prophets who will work outstanding miracles.
Perhaps if we repent of our attempts to preach the Gospel apart from the leading of Christ, God will restore the miraculous. There are Christian people who are praying that God will return to us in this respect.
I know that at the present time, at least in America, God is speaking to us to turn away from our sins and seek righteousness, holiness, and a much closer walk with Jesus than may be true currently in America. Maybe if some of us will seek Jesus fervently and obey Him completely and promptly in all He commands, He will be pleased to restore to us the working of miracles. This in advance of the advent of the two witnesses.
I am forgetting one important fact. We are encouraged in the New Testament to pray for the gifts of the Spirit. How much time have you spent today asking for a gift of the Spirit? How much time have I? I think if we are going to have the power of the Apostles, we will have to ask for it.
When we begin to pray in earnest I believe God will give us what we ask for. But He also may speak to us about our behaviors that He wants to improve. If we are going to have the miracles of Jesus we are going to have to walk close to Jesus.
Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. (I Corinthians 12:31)
And these gifts are powerful. Notice we are to eagerly desire them! If we really are walking with God, supernatural gifts will bring glory to God.
And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (John 17:5)
It seems to me that at this point the Lord Jesus was so caught up in His prayer that He could see Himself in Heaven before the Throne of God. He was asking to be glorified in God's Presence, the same Glory that He had as God was creating the universe through Him.
Can you picture Jesus speaking the words that brought into being the six days of creation?
But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:2)
Perhaps the Lord Jesus always could see Himself sitting at the right hand of God. Paul told us to direct our attention to the heavens where Christ sits at the right hand of God.
Elijah and Elisha appeared to have the ability to recognize their position before God.
And Elijah said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day. (I Kings 18:15—KJV)
And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee. (II Kings 3:14—KJV)
"Before whom I stand."
Wouldn't you love to always be conscious of standing in the Presence of God? I sure would!
I believe if we would every once in a while picture ourselves in Heaven at the right hand of God it would help us in our Christian discipleship. Sometime the burden is heavy, and yet we have to keep on moving forward, one foot in front of the other. It helps to know there is a destination and we indeed shall arrive there some day.
Heaven is composed of four elements: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; people who love us and whom we love; a glorious environment; and freedom from trouble and pain.
Our goal is not Heaven. Our goal is to be in the image of God; to be God's house; to be God's rest; and to be the place of His Throne. But if we do follow the Holy Spirit until God's needs and desires have been met in our life, then all of this splendor will be ours for eternity. We need to think about these heavenly facts continually, and they will encourage us. They indeed shall be true of us along with our inheritance of the nations of and the earth itself.
I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. (John 17:6)
I believe the Lord Jesus is referring here to the eleven disciples. When we consider the millions of people in the world at this time, and Jesus is speaking only to eleven people, we can begin to understand the unique role the Church, the Israel of God, plays in the events of mankind.
Notice God's attitude toward Israel, in the following passage:
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:4)
If the American populace, who already are becoming hostile toward Christians, had any idea that God had said this concerning the true Christians, they indeed would be indignant.
The more I think about the Bible, the more I realize it is written to God's Israel; not all the people who call themselves the nation of Israel, or all the people of the world who term themselves "Christians," but those special believers who are occupied day and night with Jesus.
They indeed are precious in God's sight. They are honored in His sight. This is not because of any good they have done. It has to do with God's special calling on them.
"They were yours." The Christian Church, the true called-out priests of the Lord, belong to God is a way that is not true of other people. This is at once a terrible responsibility and an unparalleled blessing. God deals severely with His elect if they do not obey His will.
If the calling to be a member of God's Church rests on us, we are wise if we present our body to God as a living sacrifice and be very careful to His will in all matters. "To whom much is given, of them shall much be required."
The members of the elect have belonged to God, and now God has given them to Jesus.
The highest privilege any human being can receive is to be called to be a member of Israel! Christ Himself is building the Rock Israel, the Church, the Kingdom.
The eleven disciples stayed with the Lord Jesus when He began to speak about His body and blood. Thousands who had seen or known of the miracle of the loaves and fish left in disgust. The disciples were convinced that Jesus really was from God. And so, even what they were hearing must have been confusing to them, they had seen and heard enough to compel them to remain.
Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. (John17:7)
The disciples had made up their minds that Jesus really had come from God, even though what He was claiming was startling.
In America today the Christian church people are losing the respect that Americans used to have for them. If the people of America knew that Jesus actually is the Son of God, and God has given a few people to Jesus that they might enjoy an unusual closeness to God, they might become quite upset.
The disciples were learning that Jesus of Nazareth actually was the promised Messiah!
For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. (John 17:8)
Jesus said things no person before or after Him would have dared to say. "You believe in God. Believe also in Me." When we think about it we must come to the conclusion that God inspired the hearts of the disciples to believe what Jesus was teaching.
"Abide in Me." What an awesome statement! Are we to actually live in Christ? What a thing to say! What other teacher invited his followers to live in him? I do not believe God would permit any other person to say this.
But God enabled the eleven to accept what Christ was teaching, even though they were not able to grasp the depth of it.
The marvel to me is that after Jesus went to the Father they were able to believe that Jesus really is the Son of God and present Him accordingly. The Words that God had spoken through Jesus gripped the disciples and converted them.
The most astounding fact to me is how Saul of Tarsus changed from a devout Jew into someone who could say, "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." This probably is as startling as anything Jesus said. How could the Jew, Paul, come up with such an understanding. Even today the concept that we are to circumcise our adamic nature that we might live by the Life of the resurrected Jesus, is not always emphasized by the Christian ministry.
The disciples accepted the unprecedented statements Jesus made, realizing He came from God. Christ chose these men in prayer and they stayed with the Carpenter of Nazareth.
There were other people who took offense at the things Jesus said!
I pray for them (His disciples). I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:9)
Why would Jesus pray for His disciples and not for the world? The reason is, Jesus always did His Father's will. God's plan at that time was to strengthen the eleven until they could communicate the Gospel of the Kingdom to others who were called to be members of the Royal Priesthood.
We are in the Church Era today. According to the Prophets, God's work with the people of the world will take place as soon as God is satisfied the preparation of the leaders of the new world of righteousness is being accomplished.
I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42:6,7)
It is of note that the prime resources of the Christian churches often are directed toward gaining converts to the Christian religion. It is possible the true need is for the Christian converts to grow spiritually, separating themselves unto the Lord Jesus Christ.
I wonder if a change of emphasis from evangelism to Christian maturity will take place before the Lord returns. Perhaps it won't, and that may be the reason for the thousand-year Kingdom Age—to give the members of the Royal Priesthood a chance to come to the spiritual maturity necessary for their work of service to the citizens of the new world of righteousness.
This may be why the Lord said He was not praying for the world but for those who are being trained to minister to the needs of the world.
All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. (John 17:10).
When we can say to Christ, "All I have is Yours," then we can say with confidence, "All Christ has is mine."
When all Christ has is ours, then the people around us will glorify Christ.
Because the church leaders overemphasize evangelism to the neglect of teaching the converts how to grow in Christ and encouraging them to do so, the new converts feel obligated to make more new converts. The result of this emphasis is Christian churches filled with immature believers.
When the people of the world see the immature, self-seeking behavior of the Christian converts, they do not glorify Christ. They may regard us as deceived people who have found the world too difficult to cope with.
It is a fact that if more emphasis is focused on the spiritual maturity of the veteran saints, then there will be more people of the world who are converted. When the people of the world see good works proceeding from the followers of the Lord, then they will glorify God. At least that is what Jesus said.
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. (John 17:11—KJV)
The Name of God that rests on Jesus Christ rests on all of God's elect, His Church. These are God's family, Christ is praying that the Name of God will bring the disciples into the Oneness that is true of the Father and the Son.
Perhaps we Christians do not always realize how important it is that the Name of God is on us and the Passover blood is shielding us from the judgment that falls on the world.
But the angels, both righteous and evil, know the Name of God and of the Lamb are on us and also the protection of the Passover blood.
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. (John 17:12—KJV)
The Lord Jesus kept His disciples in the name of the Father. He will keep us also in the name of the Father if we do what He says.
The horrible fate of Judas of Kerioth is beyond description. His heart never was right. He was stealing from the other disciples, and he was hoping that by following Jesus he somehow would be exalted.
Let each of us make certain that we are not following Jesus for the wrong reasons, such as to gain some advantage for ourselves. Sooner or later what is in our heart will be exposed.
I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. (John 17:13)
It appears impossible that the Lord Jesus could have joy within Him, considering the prospect of the agony of the cross and Gethsemane that were facing Him. His eyes were fixed on the Father, not on Heaven as such. We too shall experience joy in the most unlikely circumstances if we keep our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus, not on the things of the present world.
If we keep in mind the things the Lord told us about the Kingdom of God, we shall continue to be filled with joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength during the most difficult seasons!
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. (John 17:14)
I think part of our trouble in America is that we believe most Americans are Christians. They may be Christians in name, but they are not of the elect. We are beginning to witness this fact today as Antichrist keeps revealing himself in the realm of the pursuit of money, and in exorbitant and perverted sexual practices and concern with gender.
Our nation was founded by people who were at least nominal Christians. This gave a flavor of the Christian religion to our nation. But the practice of abortion and homosexuality, plus the moral filth that comes from the entertainment sector, is hardly Christian.
It is time now for every true disciple of the Lord Jesus to revisit their dedication to Christ and make certain they are presenting their body a living sacrifice.
As times grow more difficult we may notice increasing hostility toward Christian people. This is because we are not of this world, although it may be true that most of us do not realize this to any depth.
Once the Spirit of God calls us to the ranks of the Royal Priesthood we are as separate from the world as our Lord Jesus is. It is necessary that we keep this in our mind, or the Antichrist spirit of the world will soon have us involved with money, sexual practices, and worldly entertainment.
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. (John 17:15)
Wouldn't we love to fly up to Heaven in a "rapture"! But this is not what Jesus prays for. Rather it is to guard against the evil one, against Satan and all his helpers.
It seems to me the demonic influence in the world is increasing. Because of this we have to keep up our guard at all times. If we are not praying continually, the enemy soon has his talons into us in some form or another.
No matter where we are or what we are doing, we have to keep a guard posted. We have to be ready at all times to pray. This is why I exhort adults to remain vigilant and avoid parties. Parties are for children.
If we let our guard down for a short time it may be a long time before we recover the ground we have lost. The Lord Jesus will help us in every situation, but not if we are foolish and careless.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (John 17:16)
I believe most Christians realize that Jesus is not of this world. But do we realize God's elect are not of this world? When the people around us observe us, do they gain the impression we are not of this world?
This does not mean we dress or act in some weird manner. But it does signify that we are not immersed in the present culture. As many commentators have noted, America is sliding downhill morally. We are not to slide down with it but rather to ascend every day further into the heights of Zion. We do this by continual prayer and obeying the Lord Jesus promptly, completely, and cheerfully.
Paul always addresses us as saints—holy ones. This means we have been chosen out of the world to serve God in a way that is not true of the people of the world.
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)
We Americans are so busy! If we are not careful, we will let a day go by during which we do not meditate in the Bible and wait on the Lord to gain guidance from Him.
At first we let a day or two go by in which we do not immerse ourselves in the Word and in prayer. Soon it is a week, or a month, as we occupy ourselves with the demands of our culture. We do not feel any different and it appears our life is continuing along the same path.
When Satan sees the times is right he "pulls out the rug from under us." Some tragedy hits. We go to prayer. Then we discover God seems far away.
The is no "honey in the rock." It is a grievous sight to see a believer at the altar weeping and trying to regain the joy of the Lord. It may be a long while before they feel secure and comfortable in the Lord's Presence.
There is an old story about a Christian who told the Lord to "wait here" while he went into a house of prostitution. When he came out to resume his walk with the Lord, the Lord was nowhere to be found.
I pray this does not happen to you or me!
As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:18)
I do not believe this is speaking of sending Christian people to remote locations to do missionary work. God sent Christ into the world to teach people in His own area. In like manner, each Christian is a missionary somewhere, whether in his own home town, or in a distant location.
But what are we sent to do? We are to be the Presence of God among the people where we are, inviting them to obey the commands of Christ as the Spirit leads, just as will be true when the new Jerusalem comes down from Heaven to the earth.
Our first obligation is to do good works in the name of the Lord Jesus. We are to shun the sinful, Antichrist practices of the world. Also, and importantly we are to pray for the needs we see around us in the world, as well as for our own needs.
It may be true the Christian people do not realize the importance of their calling as one of God's elect, a "holy one." Most of us might prefer to be just one of the citizens. But while we indeed are one of the citizens, we also are a priest of God, representing Him to mankind.
I think there is a great need for this understanding among American Christians.
For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (John 17:19)
Jesus did not continue His vocation as a carpenter, take a wife, settle down, have children, and pursue a normal life. Instead He devoted Himself, after living separately in the desert for thirty days, to prayer and the ministry of the Word and of miracles. Because the Lord Jesus was willing to set Himself aside in order to do God's work, we also must "set ourselves aside" as much as is necessary for us to do God's work; that we may do what Jesus is requiring of us.
The commandments that the Father spoke through Jesus are eternal. They will be enjoined on the nations as well as on the Church, during the thousand-year Kingdom Age by Christ and the firstfruits of His Church. Then, during the new heaven and earth rule of Christ and the Royal Priesthood, they will be enforced on all the citizens of the new earth—and perhaps on other planets as the population grows too large for the new earth.
Some of the teachings given to His elect by the Lord are for His Church. Other of His teachings compose a Moral Law for mankind at large.
We of the Church must remember to keep ourselves holy at all times, free from unclean spirits, remembering that we are God's representatives in the midst of the Antichrist world spirit.
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
As someone said, "All things are lawful for us, but all things are not expedient." We always must keep in mind the kind of message we are sending to other people concerning Christ.
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, (John 17:20)
Remember, the Lord is not praying for the world. He is praying for those people whom God has given to Him, that is, the elect, the Church, the Israel of God.
The eleven Apostles gave their lives in order to bring the Words of Christ to the elect scattered throughout the world.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, (I Peter 1:11)
For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city. (Acts 18:10)
We are to preach the Gospel to every person, as the Spirit directs. Then those whom God has chosen to be included in His Church will respond to the call within them.
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)
I have grouped the above four verses together because I think they all are saying much the same thing. My personal opinion is that these verses are among the most important in the entire Bible.
The Lord Jesus is praying for all of the elect, His Church.
That all the members of the elect will be one just as the Father is in Christ and Christ is in the Father. How can this be? Only as all of the elect live in Christ and Christ lives in them.
If they are living in Christ and Christ is living in them, then all of the members of the true Israel form one Whole with the Father and the Son.
It is my point of view that current Christian teaching has the Father and the Son abiding as three separate Gods. Thus we are accused of polytheism by some Muslim teachers.
This is not what the Bible teaches. It is written that the members of the Church will be one just as the Father is in Christ and Christ is in the Father. It is not possible for the elect to be one in this manner unless they also are one in Christ and the Father, and Christ and the Father one in them.
Otherwise we would have the Church as a Divine oneness separate in kind from the Father and the Son. Remember, the Divine Nature is in the elect.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (II Peter 1:4)
Tell me, is the Divine Nature in us or is it not? It seems to me that the effort to keep us different in kind from the Godhead is to have the sons of God, the wife of the Lamb, and the brothers of Christ, different in kind from the Lord Jesus. It is as though a man married an animal.
If we truly have been born of God, why then do we not have a Divine Nature? I would be the first to agree that the Father is almighty God and has given to Jesus Christ authority over all persons in Heaven and upon the earth. This authority has not been given to us, although the Lord Jesus may on occasion wield His awesome authority and power through a consecrated member of His elect.
But to name the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as a Trinitarian God, while placing the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, in a category different in kind from the Godhead, is contrary to John 17:20-23.
There! I got that off my chest.
We are in Christ and the Father so the world may believe that it is the Father who has sent Christ into the world.
Christ has given us the Glory, the Shekinah, the Divine Splendor, filled with righteousness, holiness, love, joy, and peace, so we may be one—Christ in us and the Father in Christ. If we Christians are to come into complete oneness in God, then we need much more of the Divine Splendor covering us.
When the Divine Splendor is covering God's Church, then the world will come to know two things: first, that it is the God of Heaven who sent Christ into the world; second, that the Father loves each member of the elect as He loves his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Such Words the Father gave Christ to give to the elect! In our day, it is our responsibility to bring these words to the Church. We may do this by the godliness of our lives; or by preaching; or by our personal witness; or by a gift that we have.
We are to proclaim to Zion: "God loves you with a great love. He has called you out of the world that you may bring his presence to mankind. You are not of the world. Keep this in your mind and heart, and behave accordingly."
APPENDIXThe Glory of God is that surpassingly wonderful Presence that brings righteousness, holiness, love, joy, and peace to all it embraces. It brings us the feeling of finally being "home."
The Father and the Son are not the same Person, although they abide in total union, union into which the obedient believer is brought—a union with God and with one another.
Perhaps the confusion concerning the Godhead comes from Satan who is intent on destroying our simple, straightforward fellowship with the Father and the Son.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3)
Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." (John 20:17)
Our goal, the rest of God, is two-headed. One head is that of behaving morally like God and Christ. The other head is that of dwelling always in the Person and will of the Father. These two heads are interdependent.
A sign along the highway is not the destination. Miraculous signs are not our goal. When we make them our destination we do not arrive at our true goal, and we replace Bible teaching with violent shaking, writhing on the floor, imitation drunkenness, weird sounds, an emphasis on acquiring wealth and gaining political power, and other unscriptural actions. We are not behaving decently and in order.
We often are indulging in "triumphalism."
Perhaps the worst error, to emerge from those who are emphasizing miraculous signs as the goal of our assembling as Christian people, is the teaching that we are to restore our adamic nature.
Any believer who knows anything about the program of sanctification understands well that if they are to make progress in learning to live by the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus, they must cut away from themselves all traces of their old nature.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— (Romans 6:6)
In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, (Colossians 2:11)
"Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off." That is the end of Adam. And good riddance! Are you marching with me in this?
The self-seeking Christian leaders of today, who do not understand that we must deny ourselves and carry our cross after the Master, are becoming the False Prophet. By emphasizing miraculous signs instead of the Bible, they will help Antichrist. establish throughout the world the worship of money.
The living Jesus is not seen in them as they vaunt themselves.
Because of the signs it (the False Prophet) was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. (Revelation 13:14)
It has been said by some that if a miracle is done in Jesus' name, that is proof that Jesus is present. This is not true.
Consider the following:
Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew 7:22,23)
Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. (Revelation 13:11)
The second beast, the False Prophet has a double portion of the power of the Lamb (the Lord Jesus), but it speaks lies because it is motivated by Satan.
"Triumphalism: The attitude or practices of a church that seeks a position of power and dominance in the world." (Dictionary.com)