“Gathered to be the Church!”
(January 14, 2018)
John 17:6-12 (NASB)
by Pastor Jerry Ingalls
In this series, “Living the Life God has Planned!”, we are in the 2nd week of walking through one of the richest prayers in the Bible—Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. It is my hope that together we may learn how to live the life God has planned for each of us, as Jesus prayed. Last week, I introduced the big take-home truth of the whole sermon series: “God’s plan for your life is for you to become the best version of you to the glory of God!” God’s plan for you is to live the abundant life (John 10:10). Does a life of flourishing and thriving sound attractive? It should; it does to me and that’s the whole point. It’s attractive on purpose. The best version of you will give God maximum glory and that lifestyle attracts people to Jesus.
Last week, we learned that the first and essential step in knowing God’s will and understanding how to live His plan for you is to trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is the primary thing! It starts with you personally receiving eternal life with the God who desires to give you the best version of you. He not only wants to save you, but to give you His ABUNDANCE! I summarized it this way: God did not save you so that you could contain His glory, but so that you would display His glory! Jesus taught us to display God’s glory by loving unconditionally, forgiving freely, and serving wholeheartedly.
Today, we continue this conversation as we look at the second part of Jesus’ prayer in John 17:6-12. In this section of Jesus’ prayer, He prays for the disciples who were in the Upper Room with Him. These are the disciples who would personally witness Jesus’ brutal death, miraculous resurrection including His 40 days on earth until He ascended to the Father (Acts 1:8-11). They then experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). These are the leaders of the earliest churches. All of them but one—Judas. God used 11 of them to be the Church according to Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).
Listen to Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17:6-12. [Read NASB text.]
Here is the big take-home truth of today’s sermon: The best version of you is gathered out of the world to be the Church for the glory of God! Alone, you lose your fire; together as His Church we blaze! Just like when you take a burning coal out of the fireplace, that which was once on fire goes cold quickly because it is isolated and alone in the world. We each are individual coals and to stay hot we need one another.
I am now going to make two observations from Jesus’ prayer (vv. 6-12) to teach us how we can take the next step in becoming the best version of ourselves to the glory of God.
The first observation of Jesus’ prayer is that He references “Your name” in three verses in today’s section:
- 6, “I have manifested Your name…” [Whose Name? The Name that Jesus is referring to is Yahweh. This is the Name that God has forever established for Himself (Exodus 3:13-15). In verse 14, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’” (in Hebrew that is Yahweh) and in verse 15, God said, “This is My name forever.”]
- 11, “Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me…” [Jesus is not talking about His name of Jesus; He is talking about the name of Yahweh (cf. Philippians 2:9-10).]
- 12, “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me…” [What are the implications of being kept in God’s name? What does it mean to be IN Christ? (Romans 8:38-39.)]
Here’s the application: To manifest the Name of Yahweh is to put on display the character and nature of God: “I AM WHO I AM.” God’s Name on display is like the sun that shines forth of its own nature! God gives Jesus Christ the Name of Yahweh. And Jesus gives you His Sonship: His Name! His glory in you! Christ in you!
To manifest the Name means to reflect the character and nature of God, like the moon reflects the glory of the sun. When you pray in the Name or do in the Name, you are praying, saying, and doing all according to the nature and character of God. In other words, you are glorifying God. That’s God’s plan for your life! The closer you get to the best you, the more glory God will get because people will see more of God and less of you.
Let’s look at the second observation. In order to be in God’s Name, we have to be gathered out of the world in order to glorify God in the world. Jesus makes three specific references to this teaching in verses 6-12:
- 6, “I have manifested Your Name to the men [anthropois] whom You gave Me out of the world…” [When you take the first and essential step of entering a loving and growing relationship with Jesus Christ, you actually become one with the Father through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-26). His Name is now in you. You are no longer of the world, Jesus literally purchased (redeemed) those whom God chose!]
- 9, “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours” [Acts 11:26 helps illuminate this passage for us: “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” Christians are the “Christ-ones” because all that they had in common was Christ—nothing of this world such as race, culture, or even language. In honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us point out that his dream of a world where there is true equality and unity in our diversity is ONLY possible when we put off our personal names (given to us by the world) and put on Christ’s name in the world (Christian).]
- 11, “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.” [Oneness with God means that you are a partaker of God’s glory—His nature and character are yours!]
Any person can come to church, but only God’s chosen are Christians. You can be a person who goes to church and you can even be a Christian and be unhappy, miserable, unloving, unforgiving and ungracious. You can even be a racist or a bigot and be saved, but I will tell you this now, please listen: if any of this is true for you, then you are not living the life God has planned for you and you are not manifesting His Name! But don’t quit or be discouraged, press in and ask God to help you. God loves to help people become their best version!
Christ did not save you to contain God’s glory, but to display His glory! The best version of you is gathered out of the world to be the Church for the glory of God!
Does the word ‘Church’ have any power in your world or in today’s culture? Listen to Jesus talk about His Church. Jesus declared in Matthew 16:15-18, “‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:15-18). The Greek word for church here is ekklesia and it literally means, “the called-out ones”, but its normal definition is, “the gathering or assembly.” The most accurate way to explain the church is this: “those called out of the world by God to gather as His people for His purposes and His glory.”
Jesus put the Name of Yahweh on a chosen people and He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against them. We are God’s movement of redeemed people called to shine God’s light of love and mercy through Jesus Christ. Peter says it so well, “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MARCY” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
God’ plan for the church and your life is for each of us to glorify God by being little Christs; Name-bearers to the world. The best version of you is gathered out of the world to be the Church for the glory of God! That is exactly what Jesus is praying for His disciples in the Upper Room. Jesus’ prayer is for you and me this morning.
You cannot be the best version of you alone: it requires a loving and growing relationship with Jesus Christ and it requires each of our commitments to be His Church. You have been called out of the world and into the gathering of God’s chosen people for the sake of growing in your ability to carry the new name of Christian. As Jesus prayed, let Judas’ example be a witness to the urgency of your response to today’s message. Verse 12 concludes this section of Jesus’ prayer, “I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.”
I know that this may sound self-serving to some of you since I am a pastor of a local church, but please hear my heart, this is not a membership drive. I never ask for you to make commitments with your time, money, or talents for personal or professional gain, but only and always for the glory of God and your good. I speak to you as one convicted by the Holy Spirit of these truths found in God’s Word. God’s desires are for each of us to become the best version of ourselves and fulfill God’s plan to God’s glory. This is His will for you individually, for your family, and for His Church to bring abundance to our communities.
Let us pray.
Application Questions for Readers
- Are you a loving and growing member of a local church? If so, what are your commitments as a member? If not, what is preventing you from taking the next step of becoming a member? Discuss with a Christian friend your thoughts and feelings, then pray together for God to lead your next step.
- Are you experiencing the best for your life by being in loving and growing relationships with other Christians through faithful attendance and participation in a small group through a local church? Does your group spend time studying the Bible? Do you feel loved, supported, and prayed for? How are you helping the Christians in your group grow in grace?
- Do you need help taking the next step in your relationship with Jesus or His Church? We offer a Next Steps class at different times in the year to help and we would love to connect you personally with someone in the church to walk with you in knowing and taking your next steps in the faith journey. Contact the church office and let us know that you would like help taking a next step and we’ll connect with you.