Delivered on May 22, 2016
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 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. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 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.
Jesus began His prayers for us way back in the garden of Gethsemane before His arrest. We have trusted in Jesus through the words of Scripture, and by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. And this prayer of Jesus is for us today. The Lord embraces His prayers for the whole body of believers, even to those who will be born and come to faith in future ages. Every true Christian can be assured of being included in this prayer.
This prayer for unity is not merely for spiritual or invisible unity, but for a unity that is visible for the world to see, so that the world would believe. What other prayer could Christ have prayed for in the final moments before His arrest? He might have prayed for His own strength, and that the eleven would support Him that they would not flee from Him and His teachings. Instead, His prayer was dominated by a single great thought -- the unity of the disciples.
A few verses before this one, Jesus prayed for the unity of that original disciples, (John 17:6). This was no easy task in itself, and Jesus knew it! Keep in mind, Jesus knows each and everyone of them. Jesus knows their character at heart. Remember...Jesus knows all things.
Among the Apostles there were incredible tensions. For example...tensions created by James and John when not long before that they had asked for the seat at the right and left hand of Jesus in heaven which caused an outrage of jealousy among the other disciples. Among themselves, they were probably saying, “what made you two so special that you deserve those seats”. Thinking highly of themselves. That is normal among church members, every church will go through something similar.
Earlier on this same evening, the disciples were fuming with rage because there had been an argument among them as to who was the greatest. Somewhat of a competition. I’m sure you are familiar with their story. Now, Jesus moved beyond the eleven and prayed for the generations to come. In verse 21, “That all of them may be one”,what He prayed for them,(the Apostles) He then prayed for all believers. You and I, and future disciples. The prayer was for unity among believers, among the saints.
Let me give you a short story...
“A father asked his young son to break a bundle of sticks. He returned a little later to find the boy frustrated in the task. He had raised the bundle high and smashed it on his knee, but he only bruised his knee. He had set the bundle against a wall and stomped real hard with his foot, but the bundle barely bent. The father took the bundle from the child and untied it. Then he began to break the sticks easily; one at a time. So it is with the church: united we are strong, divided we can fail or be broken.”
Don’t forget what Jesus had prayed for... “that all of them may be one, and also, that they may be brought to complete unity”.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
The logic of this is that, if two are good, as in the examples above, then three or even a community is far better, and has its benefits. There is strength in numbers, and if we desire to make an impact in our community, and our church. If we are truly one with Jesus Christ, just as what Jesus prayed for in our earlier verse,then we need to take this information to heart. Remember the message from last week, when Peter was all alone, he denied knowing the Savior that he loves. “united we stand, divided we fall”.
1 Corinthians 1:10
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
Just like the prayer of Jesus, here we can see the Apostle Paul writing to the church of Corinth the same exact thing, “to be one”. We are members of Gods family. Jesus had prayed for the unity of His followers before His arrest and crucifixion, and Paul is also making the same appeal here as we can see in this verse. A frequent appeal to Gods people to become one. The apostle Paul provided us with a message on church unity, and he emphasized that a church which is divided will fail to function properly; or perhaps, even fail to survive. If we desire to be useful to the Lord in the task of winning souls to Christ, building each other up,then we need to listen carefully to Paul’s words and heed his advice. Not only do we have to deal with the enemy, and be involved in a spiritual warfare, we also face battling the sinful nature. We tend to neglect also the fact that... when we are in a state of emotions, we tend to despise each other. Which entails, giving the enemy a foothold.
1 Peter 5:8
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
An opponent in the faith, “the enemy”. The father of lies, the accuser, slanderer, the deceiver, the tempter, the devil! There is a lot of words in the bible about him and his works. We should all be familiar with his tricks, and deception. He is real, and he is also defeated. Let us not give him, the or any satisfaction. “What does light have in common with darkness”. “ he prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour”. Remember Peter, satan asked for you, but i prayed for you. Don’t let the enemy use you as a tool to be the one to cause the division in the church. Or even your household. Pastor Morley delivered a great message last week in regards unleavened bread, “a little yeast works through the whole lump”. A little sin can work its way through the whole church. “your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. This same exact tactic is also done by his followers, wolves in sheep’s clothing. They slowly creep in, a little whisper here, a little there. Lets have coffee, have lunch, hang out. Then slowly the deception comes in. You took the bait, and infect those that are close to you. Church divided, marriages wrecked, fellowship broken! Be alert is the given warning. This is a serious warning that we need to take seriously. It is no joke! Lives are broken once we play with the enemy on his terms. Don’t even entertain the thought. Rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance to discern. “My sheep knows my voice, and they follow Me”. Learn to tell the difference.
“that you be perfectly united in mind and thought”. From our previous verse 1 Corinthians 1:10. There must be unity of thought if a local church is to have an effective impact for God. Once again, unity and uniformity are not the same thing. God has given all of us different perspectives to bring to the table. That is why we have meetings, suggestions, voting, each and everyone one of us is joined together in Christ. He is the One who formed this church, this body of believers for His purpose. We are all different, but one common goal. “To abide in Him”. Abiding in Christ is how we will remain as one. Is Christ divided? No! If we claim to have Christ, then the goal is to be one. Remember Jesus prayed for that!
1 Corinthians 12:12-20
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
Paul sought unity, so he used the illustration of the church as a human body.
This refers to all the people who belongs to the Lord, those who have been purchased by His blood. The church is called the Body of Christ, the family of God, the people of God, the elect, the bride of Christ, the communion of the saints, and so on...In the human body there are many different body parts, but there is an underlying personality that unifies them all. The same is true in the church. There are many different church members, but the underlying personality that unifies the members is Christ. The church is, therefore, called the body of Christ. “there are many parts, but one body”.
Paul said, “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased”. And if they were all in one [particular] member, where would the body be?” We are not a part of any common family, we are children of God. Because each of us have a totally different function to perform in the body. Your function is not less important, we need each other, remember, “God has set the members each one of them”.God loves you and i equally. No... one part of the body is greater than the other. We need to learn from the Apostles mistake, that there is no one here greater that the other. “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased”.
The church provides us with much needed spiritual nourishment. If you believe that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God then you must heed the biblical truth about the church.
The church is Christ’s presence here on earth, and if you wish to remain alive in Christ then you have to be connected to the body of Christ. I’m not talking about a building here. We can leave here, and still be a church. Where do you belong, better yet, the best question is who do you belong to?
These commands can also be used in the household. After we leave this building and go our separate ways, we still belong to the same body, and that is Christ. Same commands apply, do not let a little sin grow so big that it tears apart your family, the family that God has put together. Keep in mind, “if the enemy that prowls around like a lion looking for someone devour”, can enter the church, stalk a believer when weak, it can also enter your household. I am not trying to scare you, this is the truth. Do not give the enemy the satisfaction of breaking the unity in your household. “A little yeast works through the whole lump”. Think about this, whenever we get sick, it starts with a sneeze, a little cold, sore throat, then we get weak, sore to move. We can function...but weak! That is just like sin, it may start small, but eventually, if not checked it will get bigger. Lives ruined, family broken, fellowship gone. In can happen in your personal walk, in the church, and in the household. You’re a Christian...your a target for the enemy. Don’t be his tool.
I love this quote from Winston Churchill...
“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”
― Winston S. Churchill
Do not let the enemy in. It breaks marriages, friendship, fellowship, homes and churches. Do not entertain the one that can hurt you or the people around you. United we stand, divided we fall. As a church and in the household. The enemy cannot fool a true believer,it belongs to God. His tactics will not work, it will only expose the wolf from within.
4 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Throughout this letter, Paul unfolds the “walk”, meaning a life of good works. This figure of speech is common throughout scriptures. Paul spoke of hope to which believers are called. He has already provided a strong indications of its shape and significance. God’s call is both sovereign and gracious.
God’s Spirit has united believers by drawing them to His Son and indwelling them as a new temple. Christians have the responsibility by Gods will to retain and express their unity through the Spirits fruit, which include humility, patience, and love. Last weeks bible study, a sister asked me, “how can we discern if the person is for real”. This is the answer to that question, the total opposite of this verse. Keep in mind that there is nothing good in the enemy. His only job is break what God has put together. There is no humility, no patience, no love for others. Its only focus is itself, and what it can take. “3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. What are the fruits of the Spirit?
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
This is how a church stays together, this is what Jesus intended from the beginning, From the Apostles, to the disciples, to you and I, and future believers. It may not happen right away, all at once. We all have to reach a certain maturity to understand and live our lives in this category. Look at the verse, and examine yourself, can you say that... that is you? We can all learn from each, build each other up, and walk the life that we were called. Be united, and not divided. If we all claim to be in Christ, then the goal is to become like Christ, one mindset. One Father, One Son, One Spirit. We belong to One body, and that is Christ.
The closer you get to your fellow believer who truly walks in the Spirit, the better they look. Simply because you see Jesus, and not the actual person. You will never get the impression that they are hiding something, or that they have a hidden agenda. They radiate integrity, true fruits that comes from Christ. You feel that you could trust them with your inner most secrets, open up to them about your burdens, and struggles. Because you know that they can lift you up, and not tear you down. You can easily tell that they are more concerned about you, rather than themselves. You have a feeling of comfort, why? Because its Jesus...there you are receiving the feeling of the Spirits fruit. And you will know that its for real. One cannot easily act out the Spirits fruit, that will be to hard to maintain. Eventually the wolf will come out.
What will keep us together? And this is a whole...I’m not just talking about church, its members. This is about the body of believers. Even in the household, keeping the family together, when the world favors divorce. How do you do it?
9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long-suffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
It pleases God when we depend upon His Spirit to do “good works”, It also pleases Him when we spend time in His words, learning more about Him, and His will. This is what it means to “walk worthy” of Jesus. Pray for one another. Verse 9 “ For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding”. Pray for one another, regardless if you feel that they’re in a good place in their walk. “do not cease to pray”.
You know...writing this message came with a heavy heart. Now..I have told you before that it hits the messenger first. As i am going through the Scripture, and what it all means, i started getting scared, worried. What does it all mean? Is God giving me a warning? Have i let the enemy into my house, my family? Is it coming for the church, or is it already here, and i am not seeing it? Is there someone i need to confront? Is there a family in the church who’s in trouble, and in need of help? Regardless of what it may be. May it be a warning for the future of the Fil-Am church, or our household, or even ourselves? We can always trust our God to guide us, He will always protect His own. “no one can snatch them out of My hands”. Its a good reminder, a good warning, be alert as scriptures says. Keep praying for each other...we know that our God hears all our prayers. Recognize the tricks of the enemy, don’t play in his playground...you and i have no business there.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-22
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
God’s grace ministers to different people, in different ways, depending upon what they most need at the time. Some need stern warning, while some needs comfort, some may need help, or maybe just someone to talk to. But everyone needs patience we all fall short in many ways. There will be a time when we are strong, and times when we are at our weakest. But the fact is, we belong to One body. We all need each other, simply because Christ cannot be divided. If Christ is in you and I? Then we are One. Pray for one another, together we stand, divided we fall! Jesus prayed for you, remember that, and that prayer was heard and granted!
Pastor Richard Santos
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