Calvary Road Baptist Church

“The Lord Jesus Christ Praying For His Remaining Apostles” Part 9

John 17.6-19 

This message from God’s Word is the ninth dealing with the Lord Jesus Christ’s prayer for His remaining apostles following Judas Iscariot’s departure from the Upper Room to finalize his plans to betray the Savior. John 17.1-5 records the Savior’s prayer to the Father for Himself, and John 17.20-26 records our Lord’s prayer to the Father for all others who would come to faith in Christ. Before we take up our consideration of today’s text, let us stand and read together John 17.6-19, the Savior’s prayer for those eleven remaining apostles, to establish the context: 

6  I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

7  Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

8  For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

9  I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

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.

15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

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

17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

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

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

The verse we will explore and apply in today’s message, verse 14, is just about in the middle of our Lord’s intercession for His eleven faithful apostles. He certainly had many more faithful disciples, but these were His remaining apostles.

I will consider John 17.14 in four parts, the four phrases that comprise the sentence: 

He Begins By Saying, “I have given them thy word.” 

Remembering that the Lord Jesus Christ is praying to God the Father, we should question the significance of making this statement in the eleven’s hearing. The Savior declared to the Father that He had given those men “thy word,” God’s Word. I propose two considerations related to this first phrase. First, I will somewhat overwhelm you with numerous observations. Then, I will suggest to you an application:

We begin with many, but not too many, observations: What would the eleven apostles have understood the Lord to mean by His prayerful claim to the Father that He had given to them “thy Word,” remembering that at this point in history, only the Hebrew Scriptures have been inspired? Books of the New Testament would not begin appearing for decades to come. Prominent in their thinking would have been Psalm 119, Psalm 138.2, and possibly Jeremiah 15.16. Let me read some selected verses to you:

 

Ps 119:9    

BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Ps 119:11  

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Ps 119:16  

I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

Ps 119:17  

GIMEL. Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.

Ps 119:25  

DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.

Ps 119:28  

My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.

Ps 119:38  

Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

Ps 119:41  

VAU. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.

Ps 119:42  

So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.

Ps 119:50  

This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.

Ps 119:58  

I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.

Ps 119:65  

TETH. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.

Ps 119:67  

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

Ps 119:74  

They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.

Ps 119:76  

Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.

Ps 119:81  

CAPH. My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.

Ps 119:82  

Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?

Ps 119:89  

LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Ps 119:101

I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.

Ps 119:105

NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Ps 119:107

I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.

Ps 119:114

Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

Ps 119:116

Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.

Ps 119:133

Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.

Ps 119:140

Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.

Ps 119:147

I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.

Ps 119:148

Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

Ps 119:154

Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.

Ps 119:158

I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.

Ps 119:160

Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Ps 119:161

SCHIN. Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.

Ps 119:162

I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.

Ps 119:169

TAU. Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.

Ps 119:170

Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.

Ps 119:172

My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.

Ps 138:2    

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

Jer 15:16   

Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. 

What further revelation concerning God’s Word do we now have that was unavailable to the Lord’s men? Allow me to rehearse only three New Testament passages to you: 

John 17.17:

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” 

Second Timothy 3.16-17:   

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 

Second Peter 1.21:       

“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 

Thus, it is evident that the Word of God is a great treasure, the Word of God is magnified, the Word of God produces joy in one’s heart, and, according to Psalm 119.89, the Word of God is eternal. Therefore, in giving God’s Word to those men (and us), our Lord provided a treasure and blessing of inestimable value. The question is, how did He give God’s Word to those men? He discipled them, did He not? He invested Himself in them, those men (and others) who were His disciples. And what is discipleship, according to the Lord Jesus Christ? We see His description of discipleship in precise terms in Matthew 16.24: 

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” 

Let me now suggest a modern-day application to professing Christians: I begin with the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ, most fully presented in Matthew 28.18-20: 

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 

To repeat what many of you have heard before, there is a single verb in this passage, translated by the English word “teach” in verse 19, the Greek word being maqhteύw, meaning to make disciples. That is an imperative verb, a directive. The Lord was issuing a command. Thus, we are commanded to make disciples. Three participles modify that single verb in the Greek text; going, baptizing, and teaching. Those three activities are crucial to disciple making.

Now for consideration. By what convoluted thought processes can it be imagined that Christian discipleship, if it bears any resemblance to the Lord’s practice with His disciples, or that bears any resemblance to the Lord’s directive to His men after His ascension, is satisfied by attending one one-hour Church service per week, two one-hour Church services per week, or three one-hour Church services per week? From what source has sprung the notion that disciples are made via a long-distance message proclaimed to people sitting fifty feet away, without any give and take, absent any personal intimacy with so many people, and without any personalized instruction suited to you and only you? You can make Christians that way, but disciples? We are not, presently, discipling.

What is entirely missing in most Christian’s lives is precisely how the Lord Jesus Christ Himself imparted God’s Word to these very men He prayed for when He said to the Father, “I have given them thy word.” “But I go to Church.” Not good enough. “But I read my Bible.” Not good enough. “But I have obligations.” All the more reason for you to demand discipling that is due you as a Christian and as a Church member. My understanding of God’s Word and the proper application of the Great Commission is that if you are not discipling someone and being discipled by someone you are selling yourself short of God’s Word as it might be taught and applied to you.

I understand that we live in a free country and can do whatever you choose to do. But be careful not to sell yourself short of what the Lord has for your Christian life and experience. Don’t settle for a hamburger patty when a thick steak is waiting for you. 

The Lord Continued, Praying, “and the world hath hated them.” 

Do you have any suggestions to explain why the world, here referring to the evil Satan-dominated system of mankind, hated the apostles, and by extension, hates us? I can think of at least two presenting reasons, both of which are related to jealousy:

First, this evil, Satan-dominated system of mankind hated them and hates us, jealous of our relationship with Christ. Do not think I am suggesting unsaved people are consciously aware of what I am about to say so that they verbalize it in their thoughts and conversations. Not at all. I maintain that lost people are unaware of most of what is true of spiritual realities. For example, once you have trusted Christ as your savior, you can count on lost friends and relatives, imagining that you consider yourself to be morally superior to them. That is because the lost always imagine salvation as the result of good works. Therefore, you must think you are better. First John 1.9, however, reveals that Christians agree with God that we are sinful. Those eleven men were Christ’s own. You and I who know the Savior are Christ’s own. This world that lies in wickedness has no relationship with Christ other than one conjured in their imaginations and can have no association with Christ apart from individual and personal redemption through repentance and faith in Christ. Therefore, apart from faith in Christ, they cannot possess what we possess; a Savior, forgiveness, and eternal life. That reality produces, in the minds and hearts of sinners, underlying and hateful jealousy. Christian, you possess what they do not possess. That stirs envy and jealousy.

Second, this evil, Satan-dominated system of mankind hated Christ’s men (and hates us), jealous of our Bible. Remember what the Lord Jesus Christ used to thwart the devil’s temptations of Him in the wilderness following His baptism? On each occasion, He defeated the devil by using the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.[1] You have the Bible or can have the Bible if you only study it and use it, while the lost do not have the Bible. I do not deny that any unsaved person can physically possess a book known as the Bible. However, even while holding the black book in their hands, they do not and cannot possess God’s Word, in a certain sense, even if they read it. How so?

God used this book to bring us to faith in Christ.[2] This book is a record of the faith once delivered to the saints.[3] Thus, the unsaved do not possess the saving experience, and the faith once delivered to the saints in the same way we do. Additionally, the Word of God is a catalog of God’s promises made to us, Second Peter 1.4, promises which were not made to anyone who does not know Christ through faith in His name. The result? Jealousy at some level is put on display as hatred toward those of us who have something the unsaved, this old world, will never possess.

Will some deny that their unsaved loved ones and acquaintances possess hatred after the fashion the Lord spoke of to His heavenly Father, as the lost themselves deny it? Two things to reflect on concerning whether or not the unsaved, even members of our own families, actually hate us:

First, to question what the Savior said to His Father is to question the truthfulness, the accuracy, the knowledge, and the honesty of the eternal Son of the living God. Are you sure you want to do that; doubt Him? Be careful. Remember that the Savior did not suggest the unsaved are always filled with passion and disgust toward Him and those who believe in Him. He declared the world hated them. Hatred is not always emotional, but it is always hatred.

Second, how often will those who are unsaved, will those who hate Christ and who hate Christians, try to place the most ridiculous demands on us? Does it seem like a power game with them and not a quest for truth? The unsaved care nothing for the truth, so they will frequently try to leverage your concern for them in sometimes ruthless ways. But does it not usually involve a demand that you compromise your beliefs, your convictions to have the privilege of spending time with them or your grandchildren?

Some of you may remember when I was on channel 13 with Marilyn Kagan and another short-lived NBC morning weekday show. Both times the producers insisted that I be the reasonable and nice one, and they explained that to mean that I was not allowed to carry a Bible, quote from Scripture, or make overtly Christian statements on the air. Of course, I ignored the producers’ demands, all the while trying to be nice.

Believers are bound by conviction to ignore anyone’s demands to compromise our Christian beliefs and practices to merit anyone’s favors. Christians do not need the favors of anyone but God. The truth, of course, is that they need our Savior. So, we are always nice. We are always kind. We seek to be flexible in every way, with the exception of our Christian convictions. When it comes to truth, we do the unsaved a great disservice by compromising. Yet, we should always show our kindness and love for them. 

Our Lord Then Prayed, “because they are not of the world.” 

This is all because, while those eleven men were in the world, they were not of the world. In like manner, you and I who know Christ are very much in the world, though we are not at all of the world. We are foreign to this corrupt world system because of the new birth. We have been born again, resulting in our new citizenship in heaven. This means that this world is not our home. We are strangers and sojourners.[4] We dwell in a spiritually different universe than the unsaved live in and that we lived in before knowing Christ.

Because of their estrangement from God and those who are not like them, not being dead in trespasses and sins like them, not being damned and doomed like them, not being not spiritually blind to the truth like them, they hate us, and they always will.

Should we like them and love them as individuals? Absolutely. How can we woo and win to Christ those we do not like and do not love? However, don’t be surprised when comes the day that they will turn on you and betray you if given enough time unless they turn to Christ. 

Finally, The Lord Said, “even as I am not of the world.” 

Of course, the Lord Jesus Christ is not of the world. He did not originate here. Neither, of course, did He originate in heaven. There was no heaven at one point, but there was always God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ did not originate at all. And though He did come from heaven, He existed before He fashioned heaven. He is the eternal Son of the living God, the Alpha and the Omega, without beginning and without end. So, indeed, He is not of this world.

What can be said about the world the Lord Jesus Christ and those who are His are not a part of? The world that lies in wickedness, First John 5.19, is not eternal. It had a beginning and will have an ending. The world began with two fallen creatures in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned against God and began their voluntary servitude to sin and Satan. The world, in that sense, will effectively end when Christ returns and Satan is bound for a thousand years, excepting the final rebellion at the end of the millennium.[5] Between those two terminals Satan has dominated the entire world, First John 5.19, with unsaved people displaying the same attitude as their spiritual father, the devil. The Lord Jesus Christ has never been a part of that evil anti-God system. Believers in Jesus Christ were born into that evil anti-God system, but have been born again into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.[6] That, in a nutshell, is the world that our Savior was never a part of and that we who are His are no longer a part of. 

We have at least two takeaways from the verse before us: First, we have been reminded in the Lord’s prayer for His remaining apostles that He has given to them, and therefore to us, this priceless treasure we know as the Word of God.

It is a treasure that many Christians are sadly too willing to set aside without studying or appreciating it. We minimize its importance and usefulness in our lives and ministries to our detriment.

One of the sad realities of our failure to appreciate God’s Word includes the primary means by which the Lord Jesus Christ conveyed God’s Word to His disciples. It was not done by preaching to them gathered into large crowds.

He did that, to be sure, but that was not how He trained His disciples and communicated God’s Word into their lifestyles. The Savior communicated God’s Word as indicated in this verse by means of the personal and somewhat private sessions He conducted with His men, teaching them, training them, imparting wisdom to them, praying with them, etc. That is what we see so little of in our day.

Second, we are reminded that this evil world system hates us, and we have clues as to why they hate us. We have two things that they can never have, and are therefore jealous of not having; a real relationship with Jesus Christ, and possession of the infallible Word of God, with its promises to us producing great joy in us.

Let me conclude this message with a two-sided warning for your consideration. If you are not observing much hatred coming at you from the world, it may be a consequence of you not much receiving God’s Word into your life, personality, and lifestyle. Of course, that might be tied to you not doing much of anything besides listening to sermons.

If you decide to engage in a discipleship lifestyle so that you make use of what is the most effective means of receiving the Word of God into your life, personality, and lifestyle, I predict two things as a result. First, the impact for Christ you will have on your loved ones and family will be far greater. And, second, the reaction by the world will become noticeably more harsh and hateful toward you.

If you want a greater impact in your spouse’s life, in your children’s lives, etc., you will opt to imitate and emulate in your life how the apostles received God’s Word from the Lord Jesus Christ. But that benefit will come at a cost. The world’s hatred toward you to be more pronounced.

It boils down to what you are willing to do. More comfort and less effectiveness? That is accomplished by forgoing the means employed by the Lord and His apostles to most effectively impart God’s truth. Less comfort but more effectiveness as a Christian? You do that by employing the means the Lord used for 3½ years with His men, the means they continued to use after the Lord’s resurrection and ascension.

Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ, or are you just a Christian? One becomes a Christian by trusting Christ, which is a destiny-altering thing. But New Testament Christianity involves this process called discipleship and is commanded in the Great Commission. That is how the Lord accomplished what He prayed about in John 17.14 when He said, “I have given them thy word.”

__________

[1] Deuteronomy 6.13, 16; 8.3; Matthew 4.1-10

[2] James 1.18

[3] Jude 3

[4] 1 Peter 2.11

[5] Revelation 20.2, 7-10

[6] Colossians 1.13

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

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