Monday, January 08, 2007

THE WORLD

In John 17 we read what is known as the High Priestly Prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why is it called the High Priestly Prayer?

It is because this is the prayer that the Lord Jesus prayed to intercede for His people just before He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to endure the Atonement for their sins. We can see the shadow of this event in the Old Testament ceremonial law on the Day of Atonement when the high priest offered a prayer of intercession for the people just before he went into the Holy of Holies with burning incense, and with the blood of a bullock, and with the blood of a goat. That was just a shadow of what Christ was going to do: It pointed to His Atonement beginning at the Garden of Gethsemane and ending when He died on the cross.

The Lord's Prayer (John 17:1-3)

This really is the Lord's Prayer. What we commonly know as the Lord's Prayer from Matthew 6 is actually the Sinner's Prayer. But what we have here in John 17 is the most remarkable and most full and consoling prayer recorded in the Bible. The veil separating the Holy of Holies is drawn aside, and we are admitted with our great High Priest into the secret place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

The title of this article is "The World".

We will not have time to look into every aspect of this prayer. I will focus on those verses that speak of the world. So let us begin with the first three verses:

John 17:1
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

John 17:2
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

John 17:3
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

"Father, the hour is come". In the Gospel of John this is the seventh time and the last time that Jesus refers to this momentous "hour".

And notice verse 2, where Jesus says: "That He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him". Allow me to paraphrase that. The Lord Jesus said: "Let Thy Son glorify Thee by saving those many souls according as Thou hast appointed Him to do so". You see the Lord Jesus was not praying for everyone in the world. The Lord Jesus was not paying for the sins of everyone in the world. You see that clearly here in this verse. And verse 2 also says: "As many as thou hast given Him". The Father has given to Christ the souls that He has chosen from before the foundation of the world. These were the souls that were redeemed at the cross.

Now, let us look at:

The World of the Reprobate (John 17:14-19)

What does that mean, "Reprobate"?

It is actually a common English word. Webster's dictionary describes them as "those who are rejected and condemned as unworthy, unacceptable and evil".

We will now look at verses to verses 14-19, and there you see the world of the Reprobate:

John 17:14
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

John 17:15
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil (or the evil one).

John 17:16
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

John 17:17
Sanctify them through (Lit: in) thy truth: thy word is truth.

John 17:18
As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

John 17:19
And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

Eight times is the word "world" mentioned in these six verses, and in every case it refers to the evil world of the Reprobate. "The world hath hated them".

Does the world hate you?

They will not admit it, but it is a fact that the world of the Reprobate is under the dominion of the prince of the power of the air. He leads them and they are fully taken in by all those things that are not of the Father. On the other hand, when you have been saved, when you have received a new soul, which means you have been born again, then you have been snatched out of the kingdom of Satan and you have been placed in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. I did not invent that. God says so in Colossians, chapter 1.

The kingdom of Satan is the world of the Reprobate. That kingdom is 100% opposed to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, when you have become saved you have become an odd ball in your family. You have become a stranger to them, because you now have new affections, new interests, a new language, a new lifestyle, and a new Master. Without saying one word you have already condemned by your lifestyle those who are in the world. In fact, by not joining them in their lifestyle you have become a traitor, who has sold out to a world they do not like to join at all.

And that is the hostile world that we are sent into. The Lord Jesus knows the danger that we are getting into. We are sent into a world that renders evil for good. The Savior knows this, and He knows that this evil world would not change. Therefore He pleaded with the Father to protect us.

But He does not take us out of the world, because we have been sent here as the Lord's ambassadors. The only three prayers NOT granted to the saints, as recorded in Scripture, are the prayers of Moses, of Elijah, and of Jonah, which were prayers to be taken out of this world.

Sanctify Them Through Thy Truth (John 17:17)

The Lord Jesus says in John 17:17,

John 17:17
Sanctify them through (Lit: in) thy truth: thy word is truth.

Now, the word "sanctify" does not mean that we are living a more godly life, or a more moral life, or a more religious life. The word "sanctify" means to "set apart".

What are we set apart for?

We are set apart unto God for His use. We are set apart in "Thy Truth." And then God defines that Truth. He says: "Thy Word is Truth". We were set apart in Christ before the foundation of the world. We are set apart in the hearing of the Word of God through God the Holy Spirit who opened our ears, and we will be set apart when Christ comes again when we will be standing next to Him, judging all the unsaved in this evil and wicked world; the world of the Reprobate.

When we are set apart in the hearing of the written Word of God, we are set apart in Christ from this doomed human race. We are set apart by ransom from those who are captives of Satan, and who are dead in trespasses and sins. God does not need time for that; God does that in an instant. But when God says: "Sanctify them in thy truth", that is practical and progressive. Only as long as I walk according to God's Word shall I be separated from evil. Therefore we see that verses 15 and 17 are intimately related. In verse 15 the Lord Jesus prays that the Father should keep us from evil. In verse 17 the Lord Jesus prays that the Father will set us apart in the hearing of the Word. We are kept from evil by the power of God while we are hearing and meditating on His Word.

Now we can also see the close relationship between verses 16 and 17. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world", now sanctify them in Thy truth. In other words: "Father, because they are not of the world, cause them to walk in separation from it".

"Thy Word is Truth". The written Word is (not "contains") unadulterated truth, because its Author cannot lie. In it there is no error. Because the Word of God is truth, it is of final and only authority. By it our thoughts are to be formed, and our conduct is to be regulated. Just because the Word of God is truth, it sanctifies those who obey it.

If then the Word of God is truth, should we not place a high value on it?

Should we not prize it more than anything else, and should we not guard it so that it will not be defiled by well meaning translators?

And think also of the reverse: If truth separates us from evil, then error draws us into evil. So beware of error. As poison is to the body, so error is poison to the soul. We must know the truth, so that we can discern error. But how do we get to know the truth? When we study our Bible, pray to God that He might lead us into truth. Just knowledge of the Bible does not protect us from false gospels. God the Holy Spirit must give us understanding, which He will give, by God's grace.

I Also Sent Them into that World (John 17:18)

"As My Father hast sent Me, even so send I you".

The Lord Jesus said in John 17:18,

John 17:18
As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

What a wonderful assignment is this. The Lord Jesus has given us His place. It is His place of acceptance on high, and it is His place of witness here below. But those who witness here below have a special status: It is the same status that the Lord Jesus had while He walked on earth. We are called upon to bear testimony in the world while actually our citizenship is in heaven. The Lord Jesus did not belong to this world; He was the Heavenly One who has come down to earth. In like manner, we who have been identified with Him as partakers of the heavenly calling are now commissioned to represent Him here below. This reinforces the concept that we are not of the world. Only if we first have been chosen out of the world can we be sent into the world.

The Lord Jesus Christ was sent into the world to reveal the Father, and to show forth His glory. Now we are sent into the world to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ, and to show forth Christ's glory, which is the glory of the Father. The Lord Jesus said: "I and the Father are One". Christ was sent here on a mission of mercy. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. Now we are here on a mission of mercy. We are His agents, His instruments, to tell a world that is dead in sin of the One who is mighty to save. Christ was here "full of grace and truth".

Now we are here to show the power of our Master by our faithful lives. Christ was here as the Light of the world. Now we are here to shine as lights in this dark place. Christ was anointed, filled and led by the Holy Spirit. Now we have received the Holy Spirit to anoint us, to fill us and to guide us. Christ was always about His Father's business, not pleasing Himself, but He was making the most of His brief time here below. Now we are to redeem the time, to be instant in season and out of season, always abounding in the work of the Lord. It is in this manner that Christ is glorified in us.

Can there be any more wonderful assignment than this?

And yet, there are people who resent this and they refuse to bear witness. I fear that they do not understand what salvation is, and I fear that they do not know what they are doing to their neighbor. I fear that they are still living in the world of the Reprobate.

In the previous studies you may have heard me talk about the symbol of concentric spheres. An example of concentric spheres is an egg and its yolk. The symbol of concentric spheres applies to a great number of concepts in the Bible. I have preached on the body and the soul as concentric spheres. I have preached on the External Church and the Eternal Church as concentric spheres. I have shown how the Temple can also be seen as the External Temple and the Dwelling Place of the Lord; these are also represented by an external sphere and an internal sphere. And now we have come to the world. This world is often described in the Bible as the world of the Reprobate, but sometimes it is described as:

The World of the Elect (John 17:20-23), depending on the context.

The outer sphere represents the world of the Reprobate. Most of the time this is all we see, and we call this a sin cursed world, a world that is still in the darkness of sin, and so on. But what about those verses where "the heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19), and "The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them" (Psalm 89).

The Lord Jesus said: "Consider the lilies of the field. Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these". This then is a world that is considered different from the world of the Reprobate. It is true, that the world can be seen from the perspective of sin, and then it is a very wicked world. But God's glory is reflected in all His creation, and God also created His elect. God says in Ephesians 1: "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will".

From God's perspective, this is beautiful.

Here in John 17 we see both the world of the Reprobate in the verses we have covered, but in the following verses we see also the world of the Elect. Let's continue in verse 20,

John 17:20
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

John 17:21
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

John 17:22
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

John 17:23
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

If we would not make the distinction that the world can refer to the world of the Reprobate or to the world of the Elect, then we would arrive at a false doctrine.

For example, when God says through the mouth of John the Baptist: "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world", is this not the world of the Elect only?

Certainly, this verse does not mean that Christ would pay for the sins of everyone in the whole world. I have been careful to quote only those passages where the same Greek word for world has been used. It is the Greek word "Kosmos". When God says in 2 Corinthians 5:19, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them ……" certainly God is not referring to the whole world, but only the world of the Elect.

Here in John 17:20, when the Lord Jesus said: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word", is this not clearly saying that the Lord Jesus is not praying for the whole world, but only for those who will believe on Him, through the preaching of the Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit?

The Lord said it earlier also in verse 9: "I pray for them: I pray NOT for the world, but for them which thou hast given Me; for they are Thine". The Lord Jesus is praying here not only for His disciples, but for us also who would believe on Him through the preaching of the Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit. He thought of us and He provided for us before we were born. Therefore, to show us that He had a place in His heart for us, He named us in His Testament. What a great honor. Therefore every born again soul can say: "He prayed for me".

And then we read in verse 21,

I in Them, and Thou in Me (John 17:21)

What awesome things is the Lord Jesus saying here?

John 17:21
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Remember, Jesus said: "I and the Father are One". As Christ is in the Father and as the Father is in Christ, so the Lord Jesus prayed that WE would be one in the Father and in Him. What a glorious mystical union is in view here. We cannot understand this fully, because God always remains God. But think of the wonderful relationship we have with Him, for having been elevated to the status of sons of God. It also means there is now no distinction between Jew and Gentile. The middle wall of partition which had for so long divided Jews from Gentiles was on the point of being broken down, and now He would make in Himself of twain one new man"

"That the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me".

What world is this?

The context clearly says that this is the world of the believers; this is the world of the Elect. This is not the world of the Reprobate.

God chose these people, before the foundation of the world. (Check for example Ephesians 1.) The Bible calls them the Elect. And then the Father placed them in the Lord Jesus Christ. First God sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world, to bear the sins of all those who have been placed in Him. On the cross, when He cried, "It is finished", the Lord Jesus Christ had fully paid for the sins of all the Elect, and fully satisfied the righteousness of God by enduring the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for those sins.

Then God gave us in the Bible the dramatic conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul. This is exactly how God drew each one of us out of the Bottomless Pit, and placed us in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just like Saul of Tarsus we were drafted into the army of the Lord Jesus Christ by God's irresistible grace. We resisted because we had no idea what was good for us. But just as in the case of Saul of Tarsus, we could not resist the grace of God, because God 's efforts cannot be frustrated. To God goes all the glory. And so here we are, a bunch of former misfits huddled together in a tiny church like this.

Can we ever lose our salvation?

Can we ever undo what God has done in our soul?

Impossible!

Can God ever send us to Hell for this sin or for that sin?

No, that is not possible!

The Bible says that we were in Christ when He bore our sins and stood guilty before the Judgment Throne of God, which was at the time that He stood before the judgment seat of Pilate. Christ was condemned to Hell and we were in Christ. The Bible says that we were crucified with Christ, we died with Christ, we were buried with Christ, we rose from the dead with Christ and we ascended with Christ into heaven, where we are seated with Christ at the right hand of God the Father. God cannot send us to Hell, because we have already gone through Hell with Christ and in Christ. God cannot send us to Hell for the second time, because He is a righteous God.

That, in a nutshell, is what is meant by, "I in them, and Thou in Me". Let's read on in verse 23,

That the World May Know (John 17:23)

John 17:23
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

That the world may know.

What world is this?

The context says that this is the world of the Elect. This is the world that shall know Christ, which means, this is the group of people that shall be saved.

Verse 21 says: "That the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me".

Verse 23 says: "That the world may know that Thou hast sent Me".

Clearly, believing Christ and knowing Christ means the same thing; and it means having been saved by the power of God. And then the Lord Jesus said:

"And hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me".

What an incredible idea: "God loves the saints as He loves Christ".

Let me first set this straight: God loves us because He loves Christ.

Therefore He "has made us accepted in the Beloved". He did that for Christ's sake. We were chosen in Him as the Head of all the Elect, we were pardoned, sanctified and glorified in Him and through Him.

But look at the stupendous likeness of that love. The Father loves Christ as His Son, therefore He loves us as His sons. The Father loves Christ as His image. We read in Hebrews 1: "Christ being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person ….."

Therefore He loves the saints, who are by grace renewed after His image (Colossians 3:10). He loves Christ tenderly, therefore He loves us as "dear children" (Ephesians 5:1). He loves Christ eternally, therefore He says to us: "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3). He loves Christ unchangeably, therefore He said: "I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed" (Malachi 3:6)

What a comfort is this for our poor hearts. What a comfort when we are hated by the world, to know that the Father loves us as His Son. What a glorious theme for our daily meditation.

Is this not a cause for adoring, and loving, and worshipping this great God?

Let us turn now to the last three verses in this chapter, where we can see:

The Whole World (John 17:24-26)

In our symbol of the two concentric spheres we have seen how the outer sphere represents the world of the Reprobate, and the inner sphere represents the world of the Elect. These two spheres together represent the whole world.

The Lord Jesus said in John 17:24,

John 17:24
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

He is speaking now about the time period before anything was created, before the world was created, and before Adam and Eve were created. "Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."

John 17:25
O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

The entire world has not known the Father or the Son, because the entire world was in rebellion against God. But now, the Son has come into the world, and these disciples have understood and believed that the Father has sent His Son into the world to save sinners; His Elect sinners. All the time it is the same Greek word: "Kosmos". Let me return to verse 24. The Lord Jesus says there:

"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am". This is the first time that the Lord Jesus said in this High Priestly prayer: "I will". He speaks of this as His right, because of His purchase and because of the Covenant between the Father and the Son concerning those given to Him. "I will" speaks of the authority which the Father has given Him over all flesh (verse 2). "I will" uttered just before His death may be regarded as His "testament". Heaven is ours. It is an inheritance left to us by Christ.

Of whom is the Lord Jesus Christ speaking?

He says: "they also, whom thou hast given me".

He is speaking of all the Elect whose sins He is bearing, and He is including us. How comforting are these words, and how comforting to know that the Father always hears the Lord Jesus. When Jesus prayed at the grave of Lazarus He said: "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always". What a sweet assurance that not one of the Elect shall fail to enter into heaven. This also reveals to us the heart of our Savior: He will not be satisfied until He has all His blood bought sheep in His presence, "and so shall we forever be with the Lord". He will personally come to take us to be with Himself. The Lord Jesus said in John 14:3, "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also".

"That they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me". O what a wonderful glory that must be, and what a privilege and honor to be there and to see and experience it. But then Jesus says:

O Righteous Father (John 17:25)

We cannot imagine the emotions of the Lord Jesus when He says "O righteous Father".

He knows that His heavenly Father is righteous.

But what does that mean?

It means that the Father must punish all those who bear sins, and that includes the Son. A righteous judge is a just judge, even if His own Son stands to be judged. The Lord Jesus knows what the penalty is for sin, any sin. The righteousness of God states that it is spending an eternity in Hell. He knows that the righteousness of God demands that the full payment be made. And the Lord Jesus knows that He is bearing our sins, and the sins of all those who are His Elect. The righteousness of God will send Him to Hell. And yet He prays: "O righteous Father". He knows that His Father loves Him and continues to love Him. But the righteousness of God is overriding the lovingkindness of the Father. His Father would like to be kind and loving, but He may not diminish His righteousness.

John 17:25
O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

"The world hath not known Thee". This is ominous language. Not only did Divine righteousness bestow heavenly glory upon the Elect, but also Divine righteousness refuses to bestow it on the unbelieving world. God refuses to bestow any good thing upon the Reprobate. God is angry about sin and God hates the sinner.

God says in Psalm 5: "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity". God says in Psalm 7: "God is angry with the wicked every day".

All these condemnations are implied when the Lord Jesus Christ prays: "O Righteous Father". The Righteousness of God may not be compromised, and God will sort it all out to His glory.

But is God not also a God of Love?

Does not the Bible say: "God is Love"?

That is true. (1 John 4:8

But God bestows His love only on those who are His Elect, but never on the Reprobate.

How can we see that God is also a God of Love?

Well, look at the cross.

What does God say in John 3:17?

That the World Through Him Might Be Saved (John 17:26, John 3:17)

John 3:17
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

The first time God sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world was not to condemn the world. He came as the Suffering Servant. God so loved US that He sent His only begotten Son to die for US on a cruel cross, and endure the equivalent of Hell for US. He, the Creator, did that for us, the creatures. God did not have to do that. God could simply have sent us all to Hell, and start all over again. But God, in His great love for US, gave US His only begotten Son, because we loved our sins so much.

What does that mean for US, who have committed such heinous sins in the past?

Can there be forgiveness for US also?

Of course!

The Lord Jesus said: "Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out".

The Lord Jesus came for sinners, BIG sinners. He did not come for small sinners. If we think that we are only small sinners, then remember the words that Jesus spoke in the house of Simon the Pharisee. Jesus said: "To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little".

If you think that you are not as bad as that sinner over there, then you love Christ only a little. It means that you have never been saved. The Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is populated only by BIG sinners. And they are ALL great lovers of the Lord Jesus Christ, because they have been forgiven much. This does not mean that we have a license to sin! If God has changed our hearts then we love the Lord Jesus, and then we want to do those things that are pleasing in His sight. Therefore, we pay attention to His Commandments, because doing that is pleasing in His sight.

And now, lets turn to the last verse in John 17:

John 17:26
And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Do we read this right?

The Lord Jesus says that God will produce a Godly love within us. That is right. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35).

In summary, I have talked about the world of the Reprobate. This is the outer shell of the world we know. This is the world everyone can see from the outside. But there is also the world of the Elect, and it is a world that is not seen, except through the Scriptures. With the eye of faith we can see this world of the Elect as God sees it.

What can we DO to be part of this world of the Elect?

Nothing!

God does it all.

But can we know if we have become a part of this world of the Elect?

Absolutely Yes!

When God has produced in us a desire to love Him and adore Him, and God has produced in us a faith to believe the Bible and what it says about His dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and a desire to do those things that are pleasing in His sight, then we know that God has given us a new heart. What a glorious awareness.

By Alfred J. Chompff

No comments: