Thursday, May 5, 2016

John 17:20-26 Doctrines Divide, Glory Unites

KEY TEXT: John 17:20-24 "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

KEY THOT: The supreme reason why the church must be one is that God himself is one: “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (v.21). The unity of the Trinity (Father, Son and Spirit) is the foundation of Christian unity. When Christians are one, they are most like the God they represent because unity is at the heart of God. We cannot be divided and still bear witness to Christ and the Father. Just as darkness cannot bear witness to light, so division in the body of Christ cannot bear witness to the unity within the Godhead. We are most like God when we are united by one Spirit.

But unity is relational, not theological nor doctrinal. Just because two believers have the same doctrines does not automatically guarantees unity. It is possible to share the same doctrines and yet be fighting over other issues—like position, program and property. If doctrines do not unite, what does? Jesus gives us the answer in the text: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:22). It’s the “glory” that unites God’s people, not doctrines. What is this “glory” that Jesus says will unite God’s people?

In the OT, the glory of God is associated with God’s essence and this is often linked to his name: “Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The Lord.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live’" (Exodus 33:18-20). The glory of God is his manifest presence on earth. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God says he will let him experience His goodness and will proclaim before him “my name ‘The Lord’”. In other words, the glory of God is the very presence of God in the church. It is that which releases power to heal and restore sick spirit, soul and body; it is the presence that brings joy and love among God’s people; it is the revelation of God’s name that draws us in intimate fellowship with the Godhead: “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (v. 26). 

And God’s glory is mediated to us through His Spirit. We cannot experience His glory without also allowing His Spirit to be manifested in our midst through his gifts and graces: “[This salvation] was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Heb 2:3-4). When we preach the Gospel of salvation, God’s glory is manifested among us through “signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit.” 

Come Holy Spirit! May Your glory fill the church through signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of Your Spirit, that we may behold Your glory. May Your goodness be manifested among us. Amen.

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