One in the Truth

My next few posts are taken from a sermon my husband recently gave. They deal with what is called “the high priestly prayer” of Jesus which is found in John:17. He is praying here for His disciples, knowing that He will soon be crucified.

 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.  While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[c] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.  I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth.

In verse 11 Jesus askes the Father to keep His disciples safe by keeping them in His Name, that they may be one, even as Jesus and His Father are one. Later on the Lord expands that by asking not only that His disciples would be one, but that all of us who come to faith through their witness might also be one.

It is notable that Jesus refers to the oneness He shares with the Father, and also with the Spirit. The Lord prayed to the Father, so He understood that which was different about them, but He also notes that they are perfectly united one to the other and therefore they were indeed one Holy Being. And then He asks that we might have such a unity even though we too are different from one another. Different, but still one.

However, Jesus speaks of something else that we can’t separate from our oneness in Christ–He speaks also of Truth (see verse 17). So, unity among Christians can only be a unity based on God’s Truth. And what does Jesus say is the truth? God’s Word. The Word we have received from His is the basis for our unity in Christ. No other forms, or structures, or common names, or titles can take the place of God’s Word in determining what is appropriate Christian unity. Full acceptance of the Word of God is the unifier of true Christians.

More tomorrow …..

For more about God’s Word see:

Martin Luther on God’s Word

God’s Word, Our Light

In Relationship With God’s Word

Producing Fruit

I recently heard a sermon based on the parable of the fig tree from the gospel of Luke. If you don’t remember the details, here it is:

“…A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'” Luke 13:6-9

It’s meant, of course, to show the patience God has with us. He is willing to wait, and to give us the benefit of time and careful cultivation — but the rest of the story is this — if we are not in union with Christ, we will be like that unfruitful fig, just taking up space.

In the gospel of John, we learn:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. “John 15:5

If we are in Christ, we will bear fruit. Once again, we see how this doctrine lays the foundation for everything is else in our faith life. The fruit that we can expect to see in a true believer is described in Galatians 5:

” … the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

We can’t produce this crop on our own. In baptism, we’ve been united to the One who can. The more we lean into that relationship, the more we learn to depend upon Him, the greater our harvest will be. The fields are ripe for harvest today — don’t be an unfruitful fig!

For more about the fruit of the Spirit see:

Fruitful Gifts

Mmm . . . Fruit.

How to Bear Fruit

Seeing Clearly

“For now we see as in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part;  then I shall know fully, even have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

In Sunday School last week we were discussing the term enlightenment, and what it means to be enlightened.  My husband, our pastor, mentioned that it was Transfiguration Sunday, a commemoration of the event recorded in Matthew, Chapter 17.

“…Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the son, and his clothes became as white as light …” (Matt. 17:1-2)

On the mountaintop the three disciples were enlightened:  they saw Jesus as he really was, the son of God.  So, when we are enlightened, we see things clearly and differently then we did before.  We see things as they actually are, not as the world tells us they are, or the way we want to believe they are.  We see and understand reality.

Another synonym for enlightenment is illumination.  The Bible is God’s word and has been called:

“…a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”  Psalm 119:105

and Jesus called Himself

“…the light of the world.”  John 9:5

The apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians tells us:

“But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible.” (5:13)

He was enlightened in a big way on the road to Damascus.

“Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.” Acts 9:3

He was blinded for three days and he never saw things the same way again.  His life was turned upside down.  He went from persecuting Christians to evangelizing for Christ.

Exposure to the light of Christ and the words of Scripture is the only thing that will truly enlighten us. It comes from the Holy Spirit.  Seek that light daily.  Then you will see clearly.