Spirit Life

Ezek 37:11-14 KJV; Ps 119:129-136 KJV; Rom 8:5-11 KJV; Mark 10:46-52 KJV

Introduction      

According to Paul there is an infallible criterion for telling if a person is/is not a real Christian or not? “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” (Rom 8:9 KJV). He sidesteps question of ethical and religious practice to declare that Christians are people in whom the Holy Spirit lives.

People are not on some sort of spiritual scale with especially wicked people on one end and especially saintly on the other with one end headed for hell and the other headed for heaven. In Paul’s categorical language if you don’t have the Spirit you are “in the flesh”. By flesh he doesn’t mean “body” but the power of a sinful nature that opposes the will of God.

Jesus himself explained, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit….(John 3:6 KJVIt is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is useless. (John 6:63 KJV). You either have a wholly natural life shaped by this world or a supernatural life shaped in the Spirit of Christ. Life “in the flesh” means death life “in the Spirit” is eternal life.

Exposition

v.5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Fleshly people think fleshly thoughts without concern for the thoughts of God (cf. Prov 23:7 KJV).

Their outlook on life is never Christ-centred and they just don’t “get the vibe” of godly things (1 Cor 2:14 KJV). I’ve met so many people, often on planes, who seem to have resonance at all with spiritual realities. They’re not especially bad people in a moral sense but as people of the flesh they’re spiritually dead people. Unlike genuine believers there’s no struggle within them to lead a holy life, no evidence of the Holy Spirit fighting against their worldly desires (Gal 5:16-17 KJV).

People “in the flesh” simply obey their baser nature without a struggle.

Would that it were that simple. Paul was exasperated by immature Christians in Corinth, “brothers and sister… I could not talk to you as I would to spiritual people, but as I would to people of the flesh, as infants in Christ(1 Cor 3:1 KJV).

Are you an “infant in Christ”?

If you are a young person who spends more time worrying about your image on social media than reflecting the image of God then you are a spiritual infant. If you are an older people obsessed with your health or your grandchildren rather than being zealous for the kingdom of God then you are a “pygmy” in Christ.

Most Christians spend too much time thinking about food, finances, coffee, gossip, television and so on.

The common refrain “I know I should spend more time praying and reading the Bible.” is a good intention but useless until your mind controlled submits to the Holy Spirit.

vs.6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. vs.7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. vs.8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Those who “set their minds on the flesh” live as though this world contained the meaning of life. Paul’s says such a self-indulgent person “is dead even while she lives(1 Tim 5:6 KJV). Looking back on his pleasure seeking days without Christ, St Augustine commented, “Such was my life – was that life?

Men and women “in the flesh” do what they think seems best to them and adopt a way of life “hostile to God”.

They are, to quote from Romans 1, vs.29filled with every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarrelling, deception, malicious behaviour, and gossip. vs.30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful….disobedient to parents. vs.31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.(29-31 cf. Col 1:21 KJV). Forget about the particular sins listed, the bottom line is that people of the flesh are self-centred.

In John Piper’s memorable words, they have a “suicidal love affair with independence from God.”  only the Holy Spirit can turn our self-centred thinking into Christ-centred living.

but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” we are told. Moses declared, “the Lord your God…he is your life” (Deut 30:20); Jesus proclaimed, ““I am the resurrection and the life.”(John 11:25 KJV). Most Anglican churches each Sunday recite these words from the Nicene Creed, “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life”. On the walls of the catacombs under Rome some oppressed Christian had inscribed these Spirit-inspired words in Latin, vita vita vita, “life, life, life”. Hallelujah. (Can you sense His (Spirit’s) presence even now?) Everything that the Spirit touches is infused with life and harmony with God – something inexpressibly wonderful.

The gift of the Spirit is absolutely indispensible to a spiritual life because in Paul’s sober estimation those “in the flesh cannot….submit to God’s law (and) cannot please God”.

Apart from the grace of the Spirit of God lost people have no ability1)See Biblical References John 6:63 KJV; John 8:34 KJV; Rom 5:6 KJV; (to please the Father of Jesus because they have no desire to obey him)2)See Biblical References 1 Cor 2:14 KJV; Eph 2:1-3 KJV. Now our passage turns to the positive by turning to focus more pointedly on the Spirit.

vs.9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

It is by entering the realm and rule of the Holy Spirit that natural people are turned into supernatural people who know and love Jesus.

When Paul says “the Spirit of God dwells in you” this could be translated as “makes his home in you”; the Spirit is intimate and influential inside the Christian (John 14:17 KJV).

One of the things that sends me crazy is hearing people refer to the blessed Holy Spirit as an “it” when as personal as the Father and the Son. Anyone who talks about the Spirit as if he were simply some power needs to grow in love with the Spirit.

We love the Spirit by trusting him to work powerfully in our lives as he worked in the life of Jesus when he was on earth3)See Biblical References cf. John 7:37-39 KJV; 1 Cor 2:10 KJV. The Spirit’s great goal is to repeat in us what he did in Christ.

Christians stop growing into Christ-likeness when they resist the working of the Spirit. 

Jesus was quite categorical about the ministry of the Spirit, “he will glorify me by telling you whatever he receives from me(John 16:14 KJV). The test of whether we are trusting the Spirit is not some vague “spiritual” feeling but if Jesus is becoming greater and greater, constantly more glorious, in our estimation. I believe this is true for me, is this true for you?

vs.10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness

The “but” which begins this verse translates us out of uncertainty into the realm of sheer spiritual confidence. Born in the line of Adam we must still die bodily (Rom 5:12 KJV) but adopted into the line of Christ we will live forever – because it’s all about Jesus.

The “Spirit is life” not because we are good living people but because in justifying us, making us right with himself, God has shared with us the righteousness of Christ (1 Cor 1:30 KJV). Because we share in the scale of things as they are “in Christ” this is an utterly remarkable reality. Now comes the highest concentration point of the passage.

vs.11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

As the Holy Spirit gave eternal life to Jesus’ body by raising him from the dead so the same Spirit who lives in us will impart everlasting life to our weak mortal bodies.

The mighty power of the Spirit who breathed eternal life into the broken body in the tomb now indwells us (Eph 1:19-20 KJV) as a guarantee of sharing the eternal life he has given to Christ.

To appreciate, enjoy and be transformed by such a profound reality demands however a mind shaped by the Spirit.

If you focus on how you feel when you are sick and tired these spiritual truths will seem like fantasies, but if you believe that the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you he will give you immeasurable consolation, encouragement and empowerment – to live for Jesus (cf. 2 Cor 1:3-11 KJV).

By faith your “life in the Spirit” will stand out amongst those who “live in the flesh” and have no hope.

Conclusion

True spirituality isn’t some set of religious beliefs or practices but living like Jesus did in the power of the Holy Spirit4)See Biblical References Matt 12:28 KJV; Luke 3:22 KJV; Luke 4:10, 18  KJV etc..

The only spirituality that counts is the spirituality of Jesus and only the Holy Spirit can teach and share such deep things with us (1 Cor 2:11-13 KJV).

The power of the Spirit was the secret of the right living of Jesus and the final explanation of how God raised him from the dead.

If we are “in Christ” the Spirit offers us nothing less than the quality of the presence and power of the resurrected life he gave to Jesus. Every believer and every congregation has a call of God on their life which can only be fulfilled through becoming more like Jesus which means constantly growing in the Spirit.

Let me try to explain something I sense in the Spirit but am finding difficult to explain.

How do you think Jesus felt when the Holy Spirit was outpoured into his mortal body in the tomb giving him new and indestructible life? He was overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of the Spirit’s power.

Since the work of the Spirit was such great news for Jesus the Lord deeply wants to share with us the good news of the gift of the Spirit today5)See Biblical References Acts 2:38 KJV; Heb 2:3-4 KJV.

If you want to be free from habits and thought patterns you know shouldn’t be in your life the Holy Spirit has power for breakthrough.

If you want to speak to people about Jesus but get paralysed the Spirit will empower you. “In Christ” the Spirit offers us the quality of the presence and power of the resurrected life he gave to Jesus.

God gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask for him in Jesus’ name and for Jesus’ sake6)See Biblical References Luke 11:13 KJV; John 4:10 KJV; Acts 2:38 KJV.

Over the decades I’ve personally seen or heard countless testimonies from believers who were struggling in their Christian life and then called out to God and were encountered by a power to live for Jesus which made an enormous difference.

Some call this breakthrough the “second blessing” in the Spirit, some being “filled/baptised in the Spirit”.

Forget about the name for such an experience, all that matters is that the name of Jesus is exalted – which is the supreme passion of the life-giving Holy Spirit. Let us pray. 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 28th October, 2018 Location: St Mark’s

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

28th October, 2018.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References John 6:63 KJV; John 8:34 KJV; Rom 5:6 KJV
2. See Biblical References 1 Cor 2:14 KJV; Eph 2:1-3 KJV
3. See Biblical References cf. John 7:37-39 KJV; 1 Cor 2:10 KJV
4. See Biblical References Matt 12:28 KJV; Luke 3:22 KJV; Luke 4:10, 18  KJV etc.
5. See Biblical References Acts 2:38 KJV; Heb 2:3-4 KJV
6. See Biblical References Luke 11:13 KJV; John 4:10 KJV; Acts 2:38 KJV

M3: Glorious Unity 05 NOV 2018

John 17:1-5, 20-26; John 12:27-33; John 7:37-39

INTRODUCTION1)FIELD NOTE: [The original much shorter form of this sermon was preached in Khamti in Nagaland, Myanmar. People from 12 churches had gathered on the first day of our seminar. The locals were excited by this level of expressed unity.]

As I was out walking this morning I sensed that the Lord was taking me on a different direction from my prepared material. Back in Yangon a couple of days ago I came across a taxi with a sticker on the back which grasped my attention; it was an image of two clasped hands with the words, “We are Drivers We are Brothers”.

If secular people can have a sense of brotherhood through a shared vocation how is it that Christians sharing in the brotherhood of Jesus2)Matt 28:10 ESV; John 20:17 ESV; Rom 8:29 ESV; Heb 2:11-12, 17 ESV can be so divided?

I have been involved in many attempts at unity building across the Church in Australia for decades (Evangelical Alliance, Perth Prayer etc.) but we never quite seem to reach the level of loving oneness that God desires and for which Jesus died.

As we met as a group of ministers around the table before today’s service, I had a sense of something I first encountered at a wedding some years ago. As I prayed for the couple it was as if they were encircled in a bright band of the love of God. (This marriage is still going strong.) God will do anything to draw us into his circle of love; this is the goal of the cross.

THE HIGH PRIESTLY PRAYER

Preachers on unity often go to the so-called High-Priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17 for the outcome of this prayer is the oneness of the Church.

More foundationally than the result of the prayer however is how it is the perfect expression of Jesus own oneness with the Father.

The start of Christ’s intercession commences when he moves from speaking to his disciples to speaking heavenward. “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven…(John 17:1 ESV).

Like in the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane recorded in the other Gospels Jesus is on the threshold of crucifixion and feels very close to heaven.

In lifting his eyes and praying in earshot of the disciples he exposes the depths of his heart for as he himself said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks(Matt 12:34 ESV).

This long prayer of Jesus is held together by his constant address to the “Father3)John 17: 1, 5, 11, 24, 25 ESV.

The unique titles “Holy Father” and “Righteous Father4)John 17: 11, 25 ESV testify that the heart of the Father is being intimately expressed through the life of the Son so that its words are strongly prophetic.

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.(John 17: 4 ESV) Although in time his completion of the work of God would await the “It is finished” of the cross (John 19:30 ESV) he talks of an already accomplished mission because in the Spirit he sees it as already done.

The historical reality of a temporal delay is less real than his vision of faith (Heb 11:1 ESV). On one level “the work” that the Father gave the Son to do (cf. John 4:34 ESV) is what he did for us in coming, dying and ascending to heaven.

But focusing on what Jesus did for us is can easily move the centre away from the Person of Jesus to the benefits he brings, away from his own humanity to ours.

This robs the Incarnation of its power by undervaluing the work which was accomplished in the transformation of Christ’s own humanity in humiliation and exaltation.

Jesus can help us only be our effective mediator because his own mortality is elevated to immortality. John 17 ESV is particularly helpful in dignifying this work of Christ through its powerful emphasis on “glory”5)John 17:1, 4-5, 10, 22, 24 ESV.

Only an appreciation and revelation of glory can release God-given unity.

GLORY OF JESUS

Jesus prayed, vs.1Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, vs.2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. vs.3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.(John 17:1-3 ESV)

The “hour” is the time of Jesus’ betrayal, suffering and death6)John 7:30 ESV; John 8:20 ESV; John 13:1 ESV; John 16:32 ESV an hour of anguish at one with an hour of glorifying God. vs.27Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. vs.28 Father, glorify your name.Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” …. vs.31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. vs.32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.vs.33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.(John 12:27-28, 32-33 ESV).

The “work” which Jesus speaks of as “accomplished(John 17:4 ESV) is the work of glorifying his Father and the eternal life of as knowing God and himself (vv.2-3) comes through the glorious way in which Father and Son know one another. This is addressed in  the  next request; And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.(John 17:5 ESV).

Jesus is looking forward to returning to the eternal uncreated glory of God (John 6:62 ESV); being taking up in his humanity into the unlimited sphere of the Father’s presence.

To quote Paul, into union with vs.15the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, vs.16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see.(1 Tim 6:15-16 ESV)7) cf. Rev 4:11 ESV with Rev 5:12 ESV.

By death, resurrection and ascension Jesus will become one with the Father in a far more elevated way than possible during his earthly life.

As the triumphant Lamb of God the glorified humanity of Jesus now shares fully in the attributes of his Father, to quote Revelation, he is “Lord of lords and King of kings(Rev 17:14 ESV)8)cf. Deut 10:17 ESV; Dan 2:47 ESV.

Since the work of the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45 ESV) is “much more” powerful than the ruin from the first Adam (Rom 5:15, 17, 20 ESV) Jesus has done far more than recover the glory lost in Eden (Rom 3:23 ESV).

The glory of the Lord Jesus and salvation in him is nothing like the feeble imaginings of a Buddhist Nirvana, Islamic Paradise, or tropical island getaway of Western dreams. Jesus has ascended (1 Tim 3:16 ESV) into unbreakable oneness with the uncreated glory of God. This is the glory he gives to his Bride the Church (Eph 3:21 ESV).

GLORY FOR THE CHURCH

Jesus’ prayer rises to supreme heights when he testifies, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one…. to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world…. that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”(John 17:22, 24, 26 ESV)

The glory of God which Jesus gives to the Church for her unity is the eternal glory to which he has returned in heaven. This is beyond the limits of earthly manifestations for Christ has taken us his Body “into God” forever 9)Eph 1:3 ESV; Col 3:3 ESV.

By grace we are as essentially one as Christ is one with his Father. vs.10All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. vs.11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they maybe one, even as we are one.(John 17:10-11 ESV).

We cannot make ourselves one or somehow become one by human effort. The unity we share is essentially divine and so an accomplished reality.

Peter testifies of the exceeding greatness of salvation by saying, vs.3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, vs.4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.(2 Pet 1:3-4 ESV).

As humanity fell into disintegration, death and decay (Rom 8:20-21 ESV) through selfish desire, our sharing in the oneness and incorruptibility of the character of God in Christ means glory and immortality10)Rom 2:7 ESV; 1 Pet 1:3, 23 ESV.

The essential unity of the Church is a sign of the power of the gospel to regenerate the creation by bringing it into the indissolubility of God’s own life11)Matt 19:28 ESV; Rev 21:4 ESV.

In sharing with us his own glory God has shared with us his own indivisible nature as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The New Testament the Trinitarian glory of God; “the Father of glory: (Eph 1:17 ESV), the “glory as of the only Son from the Father” in Jesus12)John 1:14 ESV cf. 2 Cor 4:6 ESV; Heb 1:3 ESV, and “the Spirit of glory and of God(1 Pet 4:4 ESV).

There are not three separate glories but one glory in three Persons perfectly united in love.

As the one Church shares in the unity of the one God it is impossible for there to be a denominational, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic or Orthodox etc., glory. If we think otherwise we are as foolish as the contending factions in the Corinthian Church of whom Paul asked, “Is Christ divided(1 Cor 1:13 ESV).

GLORY MAKES THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE

Jesus prayed for the unity of the people of God for an express purpose, so “that the world may believe that you have sent me…. that the world may know that you sent me…(John 17:21, 23 ESV).

Unity makes spiritual realities visible in a way that engenders belief because unity is the result of glory, “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 ESV).

God’s glory appears (Ex 16:10 ESV), is revealed (Isa 40:5 ESV), it can be seen (Num 14:22 ESV), it is radiant13)Matt 16:27 ESV; Luke 2:9 ESV; 2 Cor 4:6 ESV; Acts 7:55 ESV; Acts 22:11 ESV.

Glory makes the invisible God visible.

This is why the Word became flesh; “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.(John 1:18 ESV), “he (the beloved Son) is the image of the invisible God(Col 1:15 ESV).

This revelation of the invisible God happens most potently in the Church.

God is “seen” in his Word put forth14)Isa 1:1-2 ESV; Isa 13:1 ESV; Rev 1:1-2, 12 ESV, and “the manifestation of the Spirit” in spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:7 ESV) is a real seeing of the Person of the Holy Spirit.

Glory gives people a revelation of the inner reality of God. So when Barnabas came down from Jerusalem to test out what was really happening amongst the Gentiles in Antioch, “he… saw the grace of God(Acts 11:23 ESV). Making the spiritual visible through the impartation of glory is central to the ministry of God’s Holy Spirit (1 Pet 4:4 ESV).

GLORY IN THE SPIRIT

Jesus declared, vs.13When the Spirit of truth comes….vs.14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-14 ESV), but the Spirit’s ability to reveal Jesus to the Church hinges on Christ’s own prior glorification.

vs.37Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. vs.38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’vs.39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.(John 7:37-39 ESV)

The Spirit was not “given” until Jesus glorified the Father through his suffering and returned to the majesty of heaven. Only when the humanity of the Son had been united with the glory of the eternal God could the Spirit be poured out at Pentecost.

The mission of the Church released at Pentecost was an answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17.

SENT IN GLORY

In John 17 the disciples are believers because they know Jesus has been “sent” by the Father (John 17: 3, 8, 25 ESV). This sentness is the sole way in which Jesus oneness with God is revealed in love.

Before however the disciples can “see” that Jesus is one with God his own knowledge of being sent as the Saviour of the world testifies to Christ of how much the Father loves the world in sacrificing him the only Son (John 3:16 ESV).

This also is the basis of Jesus’ own sense of being loved; “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.(John 10:17 ESV).

Only through sacrificial self-giving in sending and being sent are and Father and Son united in love15)John 8:55 ESV cf. John 17:3 ESV. Without the Word becoming flesh the depths of the inner love of God would have remained unknowable.

Jesus’ prayer makes it plain that we are loved by the Father with the same glorious eternal love which sent him into the world, “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…. 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.” (vv.23, 25).

The result of our oneness is that “the world may know that you sent me” (v.23).

All this means that the unity of the Church is an essentially missional unity, a unity experienced and expressed in being sent; “all wills bowing in the same direction, all affections burning with the same flame, all aims directed to the same end….an inward unity expressing itself in a common message and mission…. (Milligan-Moulton; Strachan)”.

Only by cooperating in mission can the Church reveal the full extent of the saving love of God. If in Christ God shares with us his own glory, love and unity why do we live as so divided?

The answer must have to do with the cross.

JOHN (Seventeen) and the CROSS

As Paul confronted the contending parties in Corinth by holding up “the word of the cross(1 Cor 1:10 ESV ff.) so Jesus’ great High Priestly prayer necessarily begins with a consciousness of his “hour” of suffering (v.1).

Jesus knows that without his suffering the love of God cannot be perfected, his oneness with the Father cannot be shared and the revelation of glory cannot be completed. The theme of the revelation of the glory of God in John’s Gospel is highly distinctive16)John 1:14 ESV; John 2:11 ESV; John 12:41 ESV.

The fullness of the loving glory of the unseen God (John 1:18 ESV) is decisively manifest in Jesus willingness to die (John 10:17 ESV). Whereas abandonment characterises Christ’s cries in other Gospels in John the note of fulfillment is dominant (John 19:24, 28, 36 ESV).

The climactic words from the cross, ““it is finished”(John 19:30 ESV), reveal the perfecting of the Son’s oneness with Father by testifying that he has completed all the will of God.

The suffering of the cross is the highest point of the revelation of Jesus’ unity with the Father because it is the highest expression of self-sacrificial love.

In dying the Son glorifies the Father through obedience to his will and so the Father glorifies the Son by giving him all authority that the world may know the truth of their shared glory (John 17:1-8 ESV) and become one with it.

When Jesus says in John 12 that in death he must be “lifted up(John 12:32-33 ESV) the Jewish readers of the Gospel would connect this with the covenant curse of being cut off from God by hanging under the Law (Deut 21:22-23 ESV).

When “it is finished” the the Lamb of God has taken away the curse and opened a new creation for all believers17)John 1:29 ESV; John 3:14-15 ESV; John 6:51-58 ESV cf. Rev 22:3 ESV.

Jesus proclaimed the necessity of his death for the creation of a new community; “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified … unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit(John 12:23-24 ESV).

Jesus is no longer alone in the glory of his Father (cf. Heb 2:10 ESV) because his death has released his glorified life into the world.

If we would be dynamically united with the glory and unity of God we must walk with Jesus in the way of self-sacrificial love and in the laying down of life for friends18)John 12:25-26 ESV; John 15:12-13 ESV; Eph 5:2 ESV.

For Christians to live together in love and unity requires an active participation in the sacrifice of Christ for others.

In 2 Corinthians 1:5-6 ESV Paul seems to tie his sufferings to the actualisation of fellowship in the Church. vs.5For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ we share in the overflow of comfort too. vs.6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation.”

Christ’s sufferings flow into our lives through the anointing of the Spirit and flow out to others for their completion in Christ.

Suffering with Jesus releases the fullness of his sacrifice in the Church (Col 1:24 ESV); this is why Paul exhorts the Ephesians, “I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.(Ephesians 3:13 ESV). This glory makes the invisible God visible in the fruit of the unity of the Church for the salvation of the world.

CONCLUSION

John 17 reveals the heart of the Father in the prayer of his Son, a prayer to be shared in as the one Church of God.

Christ was willing to die so that through glory the love of the invisible Father might be made visible through the Church for the salvation of the world.

The visible unity of the people of God speaks prophetically of the destiny of the whole universe. In the plan of God love gives glory for the final unity of all things19)John 17:20-26 ESV; Eph 1:10 ESV.

The Church is as gloriously one as the Father and the Son (Eph 3:21 ESV) but constantly struggles to manifest the character of this eternal unity through her unwillingness to embrace the scandal of the cross.

Our disunity reflects our failure to love (Col 3:14 ESV) one another sacrificially in the power of the God who “so loved the world” which hated and murdered his Son20)John 3:16 ESV; John 7:7 ESV; John 15:18 ESV; John 17:14 ESV

The circle of love which is the Father, Son and Spirit in their mutual other-glorifying is already drawn around all those who are in Christ.

Our great need is for mothers and fathers in faith who live self-sacrificial lives to release Christ’s glory for the churches and authoritatively teach others how to live in the same way.

Our manifest divisions are a tragedy for the world for which Christ died.

Only a revival of love can turn back the tide of fragmentation which has flowed so powerfully across the centuries.

This would be a tremendous miracle, but since all this has already been accomplished in Christ it is not beyond the reach of faith21)John 17:4 ESV; John 19:30 ESV. 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 5. November, 2018 Location: Unknown

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

5. November, 2018.

References   [ + ]

1. FIELD NOTE: [The original much shorter form of this sermon was preached in Khamti in Nagaland, Myanmar. People from 12 churches had gathered on the first day of our seminar. The locals were excited by this level of expressed unity.]
2. Matt 28:10 ESV; John 20:17 ESV; Rom 8:29 ESV; Heb 2:11-12, 17 ESV
3. John 17: 1, 5, 11, 24, 25 ESV
4. John 17: 11, 25 ESV
5. John 17:1, 4-5, 10, 22, 24 ESV
6. John 7:30 ESV; John 8:20 ESV; John 13:1 ESV; John 16:32 ESV
7. cf. Rev 4:11 ESV with Rev 5:12 ESV
8. cf. Deut 10:17 ESV; Dan 2:47 ESV
9. Eph 1:3 ESV; Col 3:3 ESV
10. Rom 2:7 ESV; 1 Pet 1:3, 23 ESV
11. Matt 19:28 ESV; Rev 21:4 ESV
12. John 1:14 ESV cf. 2 Cor 4:6 ESV; Heb 1:3 ESV
13. Matt 16:27 ESV; Luke 2:9 ESV; 2 Cor 4:6 ESV; Acts 7:55 ESV; Acts 22:11 ESV
14. Isa 1:1-2 ESV; Isa 13:1 ESV; Rev 1:1-2, 12 ESV
15. John 8:55 ESV cf. John 17:3 ESV
16. John 1:14 ESV; John 2:11 ESV; John 12:41 ESV
17. John 1:29 ESV; John 3:14-15 ESV; John 6:51-58 ESV cf. Rev 22:3 ESV
18. John 12:25-26 ESV; John 15:12-13 ESV; Eph 5:2 ESV
19. John 17:20-26 ESV; Eph 1:10 ESV
20. John 3:16 ESV; John 7:7 ESV; John 15:18 ESV; John 17:14 ESV
21. John 17:4 ESV; John 19:30 ESV