61. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, 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. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are One; I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You loved Me.” -Jesus in John 17:20-23
WOW! Jesus wanted us to know that we who have become believers are loved by the Father in a like manner as He is! Note verse 23 – “I in them!” Jesus promises that He will be inside the true believer! And He prayed not just for those 11 disciples that day – He prayed for every true believer throughout time, including you and me! WOW! Can’t you picture Jesus thinking of you and me, even as He was thinking of Peter and John, and Billy Graham and Joni Erickson Tada. Oh how glorious a thought – but His next thought is even more glorious in our discussion –
62. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your Name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” -Jesus in John 17:24-26
The intimate desire of Jesus is for all true believers to be in Heaven with Him! This is startling, because Jesus knows full well that what’s coming next is His arrest (thanks to the false disciple Judas) and the denial by Peter and the scattering of the disciples. Yet Jesus, despite knowing that, loves them so much He’s already phoning in reservations in Heaven for them to His Father! What great love! I can’t wait!
63. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. -2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Look at this truth – if we are in Christ we are new creations! Our sins are no longer imputed to us, or charged against us. Instead we are now reconciled with God and stand in Christ’s righteousness. A critical mistake made by those who believe you can lose your salvation is to believe that we are saved by Christ’s righteousness but keep our salvation based on our own righteousness. That is simply not what the Scriptures teach!
hn reinforces that there are people who hang around churches that are not Christians. Note a very important statement for our study – “If they had been of us, they would have continued with us.” It is obvious John thought true believers were guaranteed to follow on to everlasting life). You’ll remember that John’s purpose in writing I John was that his readers might know they have everlasting life (I John 5:13). We should also note here that if true believers are physically able they will want to regularly gather with other believers. The New Testament casts doubt on the salvation of someone claiming to be a believer but who refuses to regularly gather with other believers. The church was God’s idea and Jesus promised to build His church, His bride. His intention is for us to gather in His name for His Kingdom purposes. The fact that when you put people together in churches there are some relational challenges to overcome did not escape God when He was planning the church! That’s why He gave us many relational commands the church is to put into practice among one another. Kind of like you have to do in your own family!