Scripture Reading: The entire 17th chapter of John.
Just before He was captured and executed, Jesus prayed.
That prayer is now considered to be the greatest prayer ever prayed, the prayer of prayers.
It will be good for us to highlight a few of our Lord’s extraordinary requests to the Father.
It is a prayer for born-again believers only, true Christians; for those that belong to Father, and have been given to the Son.
That the Father would be glorified
“…glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee.” (John 17:1).
The prayers we pray usually have ourselves at the center. Gimme, gimme, gimme! Me, me, me! Not so when Jesus prays! He began the greatest prayer ever prayed by asking that the Father would glorify the Son so that the Son would be able to glorify the Father!
God inspired Paul to write, “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36).
Whenever we pray for something, may the aim always be that as God grants our request, it will bring glory to the Father!
Jesus prayed for us believers before we were born
“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine” (John 17:9).
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (John 17:20).
As the Holy Scriptures have been read and preached century after century, there have been those that have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, Redeemer, Messiah, Lord, the Eternal Son of God, through the words of the preacher.
We are those that have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ through the word of the apostles Peter, John, James, etc.
We are the ones the Lord Jesus prayed for! Wow! He prayed for us!
God knows the future. As Jesus prayed, He could see in His mind’s eye that one day we would believe on Him through His follower’s words recorded in the Holy Scriptures.
In this prayer, He does not pray for the world; He prays exclusively for the ones that have been given to Him by the Father.
This is of crucial importance. Our present unity is with those who have believed, not with everyone in the world, even those they may profess to be Christians. Elsewhere Paul warns us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
Jesus prayed that the believers might have His joy fulfilled in them
“And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13).
Jesus spoke these things in the world. God caused them to be recorded so that we could know that Jesus prayed that you and I, the born-again believers, might have His joy fulfilled in us.
Today, Jesus still speaks these words! What He spoke to the Father 2,000 years ago, He spoke in John’s hearing, that through the record that John wrote, we might overhear Jesus speaking to the Father! His talking with the Father still speaks to us–even today. What He prays in the Word is the best basis for what we should ask The Father in our prayers!
As you read this, I pray that His Word may speak to you, motivating you to pray; even giving you the very words to pray!
He did not request that we may have only a common joy. He specified it was to be His joy!
The Joy of Jesus is Divine, infinite.
What? The infinite, divine joy of God the Son fulfilled inside of us?
What a promise!
“Father, it was You who caused this prayer of Your Son to be recorded. Now I use His own words to remind You and to remind myself what He asked You on my behalf! His speaking to You then, still speaks to me! So, what You speak to me in the Word of God now becomes my speaking to You in my prayer!
Remember that Your Son prayed that I might have His Divine joy, His infinite joy, fulfilled in me.
Remember that Your Son always prayed according to Your will. His prayers ARE Your Will, dearest Father.
Remember that You always HEAR His prayers.
Remember that You always ANSWER His prayers.
Remember that You always GIVE Him what He prays for!
If Your Son had not requested this, I would not have the thought or the courage to pray such an infinite petition!
But because Your Son asked this for me, I find enough boldness in my timidity to voice my “Amen!”
Now I make His prayer my prayer. I pray His prayer.
Thank You, Father. I receive what Your Son asked for me, His Divine joy, His infinite joy, to be fulfilled in me.
In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus prayed that Christians might be in oneness with God… and with other Christians
“…that they may be one, as we are” (John 17:11c).
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us… that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one…” (John 17:21a, 22b, 23a).
Five times the Lord Jesus prayed that we Christians would be one with each other.
But this oneness among Christians cannot be attained until Christians become one with God first. Only out of our oneness with God will come oneness among Christians. Jesus longs to be completely one with us. He said so. It is one of the most neglected commandments. Jesus said: “Abide in me and I in you.” (John 15:4a.) In other words, live inside Christ who lives inside Christians. Make your daily living inside Christ. It is by His living His own life inside Christians that we are wonderfully enabled to live inside Christ! Becoming really one with Him, it is wonderfully possible to also become one with other Christians.
God does not waste words in unnecessary repetition. When He repeats a truth, it is because it is of utmost importance.
On the very night He was arrested, knowing very well that He was about to be crucified, He prayed for things that were of the utmost importance. He prioritized.
As He prayed, He referred to the subject of oneness among born-again believers several times.
The oneness He prayed for us to have is not to be less than the oneness enjoyed by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; perfect oneness, divine oneness!
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit did not organize their unity, God is one. That is the way He is.
Therefore, this is unity of essence.
This oneness is so perfect, so absolute, that we do not have three distinct and separate gods, but only One.
The Word of God reminds us that,
“God is one…”
Jesus prayed, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.”
Such oneness cannot be produced by man. It is a oneness of essence, not of human organizational ability.
Do the Father and the Son ever argue; is there any enmity between them? Rivalry? Discord?
For God’s purpose to be fulfilled, born-again Christians must experience this kind of oneness.
The divisions among Christians do not glorify God. God is not the source of such divisions; they came from the enemy, Satan.
At the first sign of division, Paul immediately rebuked it. Read it:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided?…” (I Corinthians 1:10-13a).
In today’s Christianity we have splits, splinters and slivers! In contrast, the standard of unity God presents to us is nothing less than the perfect oneness of the Triune God Himself.
I vividly remember a day when I was out for a walk in Santiago, the capital of Chile, in South America. I interrupted my walk to tell a gardener about the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf. He listened, then suddenly said with much grief,
“I sought for the truth. I went to services in all kinds of Christian denominations; all I could find. What did I get? I got confused! Which one of them is the right one? They all told me that they are right and all the others are wrong!”
No wonder Jesus prayed,
“That they all might be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…” (John 17:21a).
Let us pray:
“Father, remember that Your Son prayed that Christians would all be one, just like You Father, are in Jesus and He is in You. Father, remember that He prayed that we Christians would be in perfect oneness with one another, like that.
So we also pray that we Christians be one with one another in You, our Triune God, for only in You we have the true oneness, for it is only in You we are One Church, the unique Bride of Christ.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Oneness among Christians will cause the world to believe in Jesus
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me…that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:21,22b,23).
God knows that genuine oneness between Christians will definitely cause the world to believe that Jesus saves. Knowing that, Jesus prayed that we Christians would be genuinely one with other Christians.
Because that would enable the world to believe in Him as Savior and Lord.
Then the world will believe that God the Father sent Jesus, who is God the Son. Then the world will know that God the Father sent His Son and has loved them, just as much as He has loved His own Son!
Wait a moment, you say, I find that hard to believe. Do you mean to tell me that the Father loves a calloused criminal as much as His own Son?
Let me rephrase your question. Suppose we take a scale from one to one hundred. We would all agree that Jesus rates at 100% acceptance with the Father. We might say that the apostle Peter rated at about 88%, the average Christian at about 50%, while some not very spiritual Christian at about 5%. Then what would you rate yourself?
If I ask you this, you might be “humble,” or try to be, by rating yourself with a low mark.
Actually, Jesus reveals to us that God has loved us as much as He has loved His own Son. Amazing as it may seem, any Christian, any one born-again, washed by the blood of the Lamb of God, rates at 100% acceptance with the Father. The repentant sinner is received the same as God’s Son is received. The Blood of Jesus not only washes all our sins away, but also gives us boldness to stand in the Presence of God, unashamed and rejoicing that we are fully accepted!
But, you say, that is hard to believe!
Yes, but we can make it easy for others to believe.
When we Christians are genuinely one with other Christians, then the world will believe that the Father sent His Son, Jesus, and that He loved us just as much as He loved His own Son. Jesus said that. What’s more, Jesus actually prayed that!
“Father, now I realize that my being in oneness with all truly born-again Christians is more important than I imagined.
I declare that I am absolutely one with all Christians, so that through our oneness, people will know that You have sent Your Son to be their only Savior and Lord, and that You love them as much as You love Your own Son.
I pray that people may realize how perfectly acceptable a Christian becomes in Your eyes. Since You accept them, who am I to reject them?
Father I repent of being so exclusive. I give myself to love and receive all those You receive!
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Warning: All of us should be aware that whenever God does something, Satan seeks to imitate what God is doing. Hence, Pharaoh’s magicians, Jannes and Jambres, successfully imitated some of the miracles Moses performed.
Jesus is building His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The Church is made up of all born-again believers, who have come to Christ throughout the centuries. It is not a brick-and-mortar structure, not any single denomination, not man-made. That church is the Bride of Christ. The wedding has already been announced. It will come to pass. But only the Father knows the date!
Likewise, Satan also is busy building his false “church,” to deceive as many as he can. Satan is building Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots.
Encouragement: But how can I be sure I am in the true church and not be entrapped in the false?
Just like John did. By walking in the Holy Spirit. By being filled with the Holy Spirit.
One day, as John was in the Holy Spirit, God revealed to him what the false church is. He was carried away in the Holy Spirit and he saw the false church.
We read about it in Revelation 17:1-6, particularly verses 3a and 5,
“…in the spirit… I saw a woman… And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
Another day, as John was in the Holy Spirit, God showed to him what the true church is.
We read about this in Revelation too, chapter 21:9-11, particularly verses 9c and 10,
“I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife… in the spirit… shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.”
We see nothing, unless the Holy Spirit mercifully reveals it to us in the Word of God. “in the spirit… I saw…”
Admittedly, Satan has successfully split, splintered, and slivered Christianity.
This should alert us as to how vital and strategic oneness among Christians is for God’s purpose to be fulfilled!
Will Satan’s success continue indefinitely?
No! God never fails! Jesus prayed for oneness among Christians. Let us join our Lord in prayer, saying amen to His request that we Christians might be one with all other Christians! Then the world will believe! Jesus said so!
From Conversing With God – Chapter 20
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Updates from Cuba
Starting in the 1990’s Fred was significantly involved with Cuba. The Lord has continued to move strongly in Cuba through many brothers and sisters in Christ including some key workers who Fred helped to disciple. Since 2009, a project to evangelize the whole country has reached over 2 million Cubans with hundreds of thousands of new believers added to the kingdom of God. The work is ongoing with plans to evangelize the entire island country. See below for recent news from the work in Cuba.
Updates from Cuba