John 17

I was privileged to preach on John 17 this morning, the first sermon in a series we are doing on the mission of the church. Jesus’ prayer is incredibly rich; there are heights that Jesus reaches to which I was only able to point up from the base of the mountain. It was certainly the case that my private meditations upon the text as I prepared to preach were much fuller than I was able to communicate in the sermon itself. But I pray that those who heard the word were encouraged to go and meditate for themselves upon this great chapter. My main emphasis was on conveying the work that Jesus has assigned to His church: namely, to go into the world with the word of God that the world might believe in Christ. We have been given to Christ out of the world, therefore we are not of the world, but we are still in the world, and we are to go into the world. Remembering these four prepositions and their relations to one another will keep the Christian and the church from falling into the errors of asceticism, accommodationism, arrogance or apathy.

We go into the world (a world that hates us) armed with a great pattern, a great confidence, and a great challenge. The pattern is Christ’s incarnation (we are sent just as He was sent); the confidence is our own election, Jesus’ prayer for us, and the fact that the success of our work is secured by God’s election of other sheep; the challenge is to be perfected in unity. As Pastor Milne wrote in his Bible Speaks Today commentary, “The biggest barriers to effective evangelism according to the prayer of Jesus are not so much outdated methods, or inadequate presentations of the gospel, as realities like gossip, insensitivity, negative criticism, jealousy, backbiting, an unforgiving spirit, a root of bitterness, failure to appreciate others, self-preoccupation, greed, selfishness and every other form of lovelessness.” May God help the church love one another as it goes into the world with the message of the gospel for the glory of God.



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