A Voice in the
Re: I Pray for Them
"I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them." (vs9-10)
First of all notice that Christ's work of 'intercession' is not for the world of unbelievers. When unbelievers sing from Handel's Messiah "He makes intercession for us" (Rom8:34), they, as well as those of the false christendom, seem to assume that Jesus is at the Father's "right hand", interceding for the WHOLE WORLD. Carry that thought a bit further, and you can easily progress to that false doctrine we mentioned last month called, "Ultimate Restorationism"; a sort of "pan-theism", that in the end, it will all "-pan-" out for everyone, even if they didn't repent. They also sing from the Messiah, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom8:31) Thus, they speak of a "loving" God who "accepts" us all. And that branches out to the inclusive qualifier... God accepts us "just as we are"...without repentance and change.
But please notice the fuller context of those words that they sing and claim to believe. Christ makes intercession "for the SAINTS". (Rom8:27) And if the reader keeps track of the overall context in Romans, they would understand that Paul is writing to Believers, thus, when he says that Christ makes intercession for "us" (Rom8:26,34), "us" refers to -BELIEVERS-. Those who have "received" Him. (Jn1:12) When John later speaks of Jesus' "advocacy" for us, he is writing to his "little children". (1Jn2:1) Again: Believers.
But John goes on to say that Jesus is the "propitiation" for "the whole world". (1Jn2:2) You see: there is a difference. Propitiation is the work Jesus came to this world to do, to make atonement for sin, to redeem sinful man. There is a difference between "advocacy/intercession" and "propitiation/redemption". Typically, the only sort of people who work as advocates on behalf of others are 'lawyers'. They get 'paid' to represent a 'stranger'. The only sort of person who would put their 'neck' and reputation on the line to plead for somebody for 'free', is somebody who is a 'relative' or a close-and-dear 'friend'. Jesus purchased the Believer with His own blood (Ac20:28); thus, the Believer 'belongs' to Him. In addition, Jesus calls His own His "friends". (Jn15:15) The Believer, as Christ's "wife" (Eph5:23~), takes on Christ's name: CHRIST-ian. Thus, since we belong to Christ, He has every reason to advocate for us before the Father: when we stumble, and God sees it, Jesus says, Please don't mind that, he's 'Mine', he is yet "flesh and blood" (1Cor15:50); he is yet "dust" (Ps103:14); but he is "with" Me. (Ac4:13) Accept him just as You do Me.
But a person who has seen God's power and creation (Rom1:20), and has been faced with his sin, and has REFUSED TO REPENT, and thus also has not "received" Christ's cleansing (How is one 'saved' if they haven't first acknowledged their sin and repudiated it? If they view themselves as already being "OK", not needing to repent; by natural deduction, they also have not been cleansed by Jesus' blood; because a person who doesn't accept that they are 'dirty', will not see the need to 'wash'. They are not saved!), does not 'belong to' Christ. There is NO REASON for Jesus to plead his case before the Father.
In addition, unless the Father "gives" them to Jesus for saving (vs6), they don't come to Jesus Christ. Again: they do not "belong" to Christ. If they haven't even been 'assigned' to Christ, even in the 'stranger' relationship by which attorneys are 'hired', again: Jesus is not 'representing' them before the Father. They are not part of His 'case-load'; they are not part of His 'docket'.
So, what about the reasoning many give? When being crucified, didn't Jesus pray, "FORGIVE them, for they do not know what they do" (Lk23:34)? Doesn't that mean the WHOLE WORLD is "forgiven"? (This is what some teach: that the 'gospel' they proclaim informs people of the fact that they are 'already' forgiven. They only just need to be aware of that fact) After all, God "so loved the WORLD that He sent" Jesus to die. (Jn3:16) Well, what did Jesus say about Judas, who betrayed Him? "It would have been good for that man if he had never been born." (Mk14;21) Where was Jesus' forgiveness there? When Judas betrayed Jesus, he knew very well what he was doing; and 'Whom' he was betraying. He had been there when Peter confessed, "You are the Christ" (Mk8:29) And Jesus said that the one who 'knew' and disobeyed would be beaten "with many stripes", but the one who was ignorant would be "beaten with few". (Lk12:47-48) Judas had spent 3 1/2 years with Jesus. The Romans who were crucifying Him, did not know who He was. It was only 'after' the crucifixion, that the Roman commander comes to understand and exclaims, "Truly this was the Son of God!" (Mt27:54) Yes, God does "overlook... these times of ignorance" if one "repents". (Ac17:30) Yes, God sent Jesus to die for "the world" to give "eternal life" to as many as "believe" Him. But not 'all' the world is "believing into" Him; but are being "disobedient". (Jn3:16,36) And if a person is 'rejecting' Christ, why would Jesus serve as "advocate" to such a person? He doesn't.
Yes, Jesus' redemption and propitiation is 'available' to all who "call upon the name of the Lord" for salvation. (Ac2:21) But the "world" has not called upon God; they reject Him. Jesus "offered up Himself" (Heb7:27); and in that "offering", also OFFERS salvation to all, to "whoever desires" the Water of Life. (Rev22:17) He invites: "Come to Me.." (Mt11:28) But the world is not receiving the "gift" (Eph2:8) He is offering. His hands are outstretched to the world, pleading with them, "Come now and let us reason together, says Jehovah: Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient..." (Is1:18-19) But they are -not- "willing"; instead, rejecting His love and mercy. And regarding the "acceptable year of the Lord" (Lk4:19) by which He came, Jesus is a 'gentleman'; He does not "strive nor cry out" (Mt12:19); He does not force His gift where He is not wanted.
Thus, Jesus does not intercede for the world, just believers.
Notice also, that while Jesus actually proclaimed these words close to 2000 years ago, this prayer applies to Believers even today. Notice: "I do not pray concerning these alone, but also concerning those who will believe into Me through their word" (vs20)
Realizing that Jesus is praying -about- 'Believers', this understanding should make the next parts much easier to understand:
Jesus prays, "..that they may be one as We are...as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me...I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made complete in one, and that the world may know that You sent Me, and love them as You love Me." (vs11,21,23)
This is -NOT- the same thing the pope proclaimed in his 1995 "Ut Unum Sint"! Jesus is -NOT- talking about a unity and love between Believers and non-believers! NOTE THIS WELL! Jesus is -NOT- speaking of ecumenicity: the combining of all the world's religions, denominations and factions into 'one'. Jesus is speaking of the "oneness" of -BELIEVERS-: those God gave to Jesus (Jn6:44), having come to God in repentance (Ac20:21), and received Jesus in faith. (Jn1:12, Ac16:31) Jesus is praying about the same ones we spoke of from last month's article; those who are "keeping" His Word. (vs6) Those of today's ecumenicity do -NOT- "keep" God's Word. Those of the eastern religions do not even pretend to know the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel". (1Ch29:18) Those of Islam worship Allah. Those of Rome follow pagan tradition. And those of charismania are busy "tearing down walls" of -Doctrine-. If they have a choice between being in God's Word, or being "spirit-filled", they choose their demons. None (NONE) of these have come to Christ. They are not the ones Jesus is praying about. They are of "the world"; that entity about which He was -NOT- praying. (vs9) The oneness Jesus prays about is not a "unity in diversity".
There are several cohesive factors in this oneness. Jesus gave His Word. (vs14) And as a result, one commonality for Believers is that the world "hates" us. Remember Jesus promised, "in the world you have affliction" (16:33); "if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." (15:20) A Believer can engage in so-called "dialog" with the world on a purely 'intellectual' level, and can 'get along'; but if a Believer proclaims the 'absolutes' of "Thus says the Lord" from the Scriptures, that is when the world's hatred begins to spew forth. That is why there has been such a concerted effort by the unregenerate to pervert the translations of God's Word; because they cannot "endure sound doctrine". (2Tm4:3) They cannot stand it. That is because, God's "Word" is very God, Himself: "the Word was God" (Jn1:1); and they are in rebellion against God. Furthermore, if you proclaim the 'absolutes' of God's Word amongst a group of people claiming to be "Christian", and they accuse you of being "judgmental" for sticking to the Scriptures, that's a dead-giveaway that they are not 'real' Believers; because real Believers, by definition, have "received" God's Word into their hearts (vs8); and if they don't receive the Scriptures you proclaim, you know that they do "not hear us" because they are "not of God". (1Jn4:6) They are not in "oneness" with God through His Word.
Peter exhorts the Believers to "be holy". (1Pt1:15-16) How does one be holy? Jesus prayed about that. "Sanctify them by Your Truth." (vs17) And what is "Truth"? "Your Word is Truth." Again: the Scriptures.
And what is the result? "..that they may be made 'complete' in one.." (vs23) What does Paul reiterate as to the source of a Believer's "completeness"? The Holy Scriptures which God breathed. They are all that is necessary for a Believer to be "complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2Tim3:14-17) And the Scriptures are the foundation for Believers to be in unity with God and each other. The Church is "built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets" (Eph2:20) "Apostles and Prophets"; another way of saying, "The Scriptures".
Now, God has left Believers on this earth for a time. But His intercession for us, also, is that we should be kept "from the evil". (vs15) However, just because we are yet residents of earth, we are not -OF- the world, just as Jesus is "not of the world." (vs16) Paul defines it as "our citizenship is in Heaven". (Php3:20)
You see...there is a purpose for our remaining. Believers are 'messengers' "sent..into the world". (vs18) For what purpose? For "..those who will believe into [Christ] through their word" (vs20); to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mk16:15)
However, even though the Believer is in the world, being "hated" by the world, we are kept safe. His "care" for us assures that we will not be "lost". (vs12) That's 'Eternal Security'. Yes, the world might persecute and kill these bodies, but Jesus promised, "And do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul." (Mt10:28) Paul assures us that there is -nothing- in all of God's creation that can "separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord". (Rom8:31-39)
And this love which Jesus has for us is the same love that assures that He will keep His promise. He promised, "I will come again and receive you to Myself.." (14:3) And this is what He prays, "I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You gave Me.." (vs24)
And what is the ultimate outcome? "And I make known to them Your name, and will make it known, that the love with which You love Me may be in them, and I in them." (vs26) Knowing God and His glory.
"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." (Rom11:33-36)