Updated: Jan 16, 2021
ONE in Life, Truth, and Glory
At the end of the last supper, immediately prior to Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion, Jesus prayed an amazing prayer. In John 17 our Lord’s “high priestly” prayer is found in its entirety. This petition to the Father is the yearning, aspiration, and motivation for Jesus to embrace the death of the cross. The focus of His prayer is for His followers to be ONE, as one as the Father and the Son are one. Clearly delineated in His prayer are three distinctive gifts for this oneness which signify the earnestness, desperateness, and the unique desire of His heart. The oneness of His people is the joy set before Him; whereby, He was willingly crucified.
How mysterious and divine is the oneness between the Father and the Son. The Three of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct from eternity to eternity; nevertheless, they are absolutely and eternally, inseparably one. There is only one God with one manifestation. Christians are to have this identical oneness: no matter differences and divergence in ethnicity, race, socio-economic, politics, biblical doctrines, or Christian practices.
It is by this manifested oneness that the world will believe in the reality of Jesus Christ (John 17:21). This oneness displayed to the world has to happen before the second advent of Jesus Christ. Jesus is not waiting for His prayer to be answered in His coming kingdom, but now, today. In the midst of this divided, confused, and corrupted world, Jesus will have a people who have entered into the same fellowship of the Trinity where they are ONE. Yes, within the fellowship of the Triune God, diverse individuals who are one, loving one another is the norm in the here and now.
In His prayer, prior to each ask for unity, Jesus gave a gift to His people. Three asks, three gifts. The three gifts are the secret for diverse individuals to become one without conformity or uniformity. When believers consider and enjoy these three gifts as factors or elements of their oneness, they will be brought into the heart of God’s purpose and pleasure, and in turn, they will be full of the joy of the Lord having purpose and eternal value in their lives.
Employing these three gifts is how believers can fulfill the Lord’s unique and new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you! The very last sentence of His prayer in John 17 is that the love of the Father which is in the Son will then be in His followers. The power of this divine love which caused Jesus to die for all mankind, is the same love in Christians whereby they are able to love one another. The power brings once divided hostile enemies into one is His love.
The following is a general sketch concerning how these three gifts are interrelated with truth being the connector:
1. The Eternal life, the Father’s Name
Since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent . . . And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one [John 17:2-3, 11 ESV].
Jesus gave His believers eternal life. This is not in the future. It is now since it is to know the Father and the Son. We can know them now! Many Christians after coming to faith get distracted by many things other than Him. They may pursue biblical doctrines and holy living but maybe devoid of knowing the Father and the Son. The apostle Paul counted all his religious attainments to be garbage when compared to the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord (Phil. 3:8). The minds of mature Christians are ones where they forget the things behind in order to pursue and know Jesus Christ Himself (Phil. 3:10-15). This is eternal life on earth today.
Believers were born anew with God’s life at the time of receiving the gospel, which is the truth concerning Jesus Christ. By the very faith of Jesus Christ, they are regenerated with the Father’s divine life and are partaking (in fellowship) with the Father’s divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Through the new birth, Christians have received the Father’s Name. All believers are in the same family with God as their Father. Labeling themselves with any other name will cause division; therefore, Jesus prayed that His followers be kept in the Father’s name resulting in this divine oneness.
Those with a propensity toward division are babes in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1-4). Therefore, every Christian needs to grow and mature. A mature believer is one who has shed all labels and is unmovable from the Father’s name, which is the Person of the Father Himself. A mature person, only having the Father’s name can fellowship with all believers, even those who have immaturely labeled themselves.
Every life needs four elements to grow and thrive: nutrients (sustenance), air (environment), exercise, and sleep. If these four elements are present, life will spontaneously grow, reproduce, and mature. When these four essentials are applied to the spiritual life within believers, their lives will be healthy and fruitful; they will be able to go through the day-to-day challenges with contentment, joy, and purpose.
The third in our Trilogy: One Life & Glory delves into what these four essentials are in order for believers to grow and mature in their spiritual lives.
2. The Truth (His Word)
I have given them your word ... Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. ... that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me [John 17:14, 17, 21 ESV].
The second gift is God’s Word, which is truth. God’s Word here must refer to the Son of God since according to John 1:1 and 14, the Son is the Word who became flesh full of grace and truth. The Word is the truth. No doubt Jesus Christ, the Son of God—as the Word of God—is the truth. Therefore, Jesus said: “I am the truth” (John 14:6).
Men can read Scriptures and miss the Word, the truth. The Bible conveys the truth, but if you missed Jesus Christ in the Bible, then you missed the truth. Jesus told the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). If a person reads the Bible and misses Jesus, then this person has missed the entire message. People can read the Scriptures to learn law, morality, principles for marriage, business, parenting, and interesting stories. Nevertheless, if Jesus is not seen and received then the essence of life is altogether missed. The Berean Study Bible is more emphatic: You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.
Almost all divisions among Christians use portions of Scripture as their basis for making their own church more superior; therefore, they separate from those who do not share their interpretations. However, dividing from anyone who has received the common salvation based on the common faith (Jude 3; Titus 1:4) in Jesus Christ is a sure sign that the truth is absent because the truth unifies. The sanctifying truth liberates believers from religious dogma, nourishes and supplies with joy the hearers, and brings those divided into oneness.
Although the common faith as the core of truth is so simple; yet Jesus Christ as truth is unsearchably rich. As the truth is mined from Scriptures, we, like the apostle Paul, would declare “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8). Furthermore, the Spirit of Truth will guide His believers into the experiential reality of the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.
The truth is the “nutrient” for spiritual life and knowledge to inspire believers to live and serve God in the way He has ordained. To partake of Jesus Christ from day to day, it is through Truth. A fresh appreciation of the person of Jesus Christ and His work is the daily bread for believers whereby we may grow “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). The Truth is also spiritual food to serve and feed others. God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, the truth needs to be taught for more understanding. Truth is central for all believers to express miraculously normal lives and service. Truth is what every believer needs to ingest and dispense as nourishing food to others.
3. His Glory
The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me [John 17:22-23 ESV].
The third gift is the glory of Jesus Christ, which He received after His death, resurrection, and ascension. It was His humanity that was crowned with glory and honor matching what He already possessed in His divinity. This glory He gave to His people through the outpouring of His Spirit empowering His disciples to serve and minister as He did with lowliness and humility.
Pride is one of the greatest and deadliest dividers among God’s people. However, with the Lord’s glory, they can serve one another with love, kindness, and humility allowing them to become one with those contrary to themselves. Jesus laid aside His divine glory—rightfully His—in order to serve all humanity as a slave no matter the hardship and opposition. Now, His glory clothed upon all His believers enables and empowers them to minister as He did as lowly servants for the building up of His ekklesia.
Jesus Christ suffered the cross alone having been forsaken by both God and men. He was the uniquely qualified lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. Jesus as a man suffered an excruciating ordeal by Himself for three days before being resurrected and crowned with glory. This glory is now within and upon His believer in order that they are empowered to pick up their cross for the ministry of life to people and build up His ekklesia. Having His glory is the source of Christian oneness; whereby, believers can keep and extend unity in meekness and gentleness toward one another (Eph. 4:2-3).