The Gospel of John
1. We are being relentlessly bombarded by religious propaganda from the ecumenicists – telling us that we are to put aside all of our doctrinal differences and “come together.”
2. Great strides are being made along these lines and we are seeing many religions uniting – Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Jews, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists, and unfortunately even some Baptists.
3. They call this religious hodgepodge “Christian unity,” but it is not true Christian unity.
4. I heard a preacher say that you can take two tomcats and tie their tails together – you have union but you do not have unity!
5. You may have union, but not communion.
6. Let me stop here for a moment and make a rather obvious statement – there can be no true Christian fellowship with those who are not true Christians. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).
7. In January of 2002, Pope John Paul II led a prayer meeting with 200 other religious leaders in Assisi, the birthplace of St Francis. Roman Catholic cardinals, Muslim clerics, Jewish rabbis, Buddhists, Sikhs, Bahais, Hindus, Jains, Zoroastrians and members of African witchdoctors were among those assembled for prayer.
8. This was the third time the late John Paul II had organized such meetings at Assisi. The first one was in 1986, and then he did it again in 1993.
9. Prominent among the Pope’s guests in January 2002 were 29 senior Muslim clerics from a wide range of Islamic countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Morocco and Libya. This was done intentionally because it was only three months after 9/11.
10. Father Thomas Calleja, a Roman Catholic priest who traveled to Assisi from Malta, said: “After the event of the Twin Towers... people were saying this is a war against Muslims. But the Pope wanted to show the whole world that there is nothing wrong between Muslims and other religions.”
11. Maybe there is “nothing wrong between Muslims and other religions,” but there certainly is something wrong between Islam and the Bible, and between Islam and the God of the Bible!
12. What are we to think of all of this ecumenicalism? Is there any Scriptural basis for these strange meetings? NO – THERE IS NOT!
13. The religious apostates will object to what I am saying on the basis of John 17:11b, 21a. But do these verses teach ecumenicalism? Do these Scriptures teach that we are to put aside basic Christian doctrines, such as the deity of Christ, for the sake of some worldly, unscriptural unity?
14. The answer is no (cf. II Cor. 6:14-17).
I. TRUE CHRISTIAN UNITY MUST BE BASED UPON BIBLE SALVATION
1. Notice I said “Bible salvation.” There are many people today who talk about salvation, but it is not Scriptural.
2. Those that are truly saved have been given “eternal life” (John 17:2, 3). Have you received this “eternal life”?
3. Here, in this prayer to God the Father, our Lord identifies Himself as “Jesus Christ,” i.e. the Messiah (17:3).
4. True Christian unity must be based upon salvation. The people our Lord is praying for were given to Him “out of the world” (17:6).
5. True Christians are those who “have kept” God’s word (17:6b). Just stop for a moment and think about the ecumenical movement today: cults and liberal groups that deny the deity of Christ, churches which worship statues and religious icons, and none of them which obeys God’s Word.
6. How could a genuine Christian fellowship with these apostates from the mainline denominations? Consider the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson. He is a homosexual and a drunkard. He recently entered an alcohol treatment program.
7. Before entering the program on February 1, Robinson wrote a letter to his fellow Episcopalians and said, “I will be dealing with the disease of alcoholism – which, for years, I have thought of as a failure of will or discipline on my part, rather than a disease over which my particular body simply has no control, except to stop drinking altogether.” (Drunkenness is sin, not a disease.)
8. How could any true Christian fellowship with a man like this? And the liberal churches are literally full of people like this.
9. John 17:6-9 restricts this group for whom Jesus praying to those who are truly saved – they have “received” the Word of God (17:8, cf. 17:20).
10. They are not to be confused with “the world” (17:9).
II. CHRISTIAN UNITY MUST BE BASED UPON SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD
1. I could never worship with Christians who are not separated from the world. As fundamental Baptists, we cannot unite with other Baptists if they are worldly.
2. Our Lord warned His disciples about the world at the end of His long discourse (16:33). And then in His prayer in John 17, He refers to the “world” 19 times.
3. And He makes it very plain that He was not praying for the world, “but for them which thou hast given me” (17:9).
4. I heard a preacher compare the church to a boat out on the sea. The boat is out on the water – that is good. But once water starts getting into the boat you are in trouble. Today, many churches are drowning in sin and compromise and sinking fast because they let the world in.
5. Oftentimes it is gradual – like the camel who put his nose in the man’s tent.
6. We are “in the world” (17:11), but we are “not of the world” (17:14, 16).
7. According to the Bible it is impossible to love God and love the world at the same time (cf. John 15:18-20; 17:14-16; James 4:4; I John 2:15-17).
8. We need to be honest with ourselves. Do we love the things of this world? Do we allow worldly things to crowd out God in our life? Do the things of the world hinder us from serving God?
9. CHS said: “Ah! Beloved, it would puzzle the angel Gabriel himself, to tell whether some of you are Christians or not, if he were sent down to the world to pick out the religious from the wicked. None but God could do it, for in these days of worldly religion they are so much alike.” He preached that on Nov.22, 1855. If it was bad then, what would he think today?
10. Some Christians try to live as close to the world as they possibly can. Illustration of chauffeur hired by lady.
11. I thank God for the Holiness conferences. The Holy Spirit uses these meetings to show us how worldly we really are.
12. Too many Christians ask: “Can I do this?” or “Can I go here?” It is better to ask: “Does this bring honor and glory to the Lord?” “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31).
13. One major difference between true Christianity and false Christianity is their relationship towards the world. That is why some churches have BINGO games and Las Vegas nights, and drinking parties and dances, and so on – they are worldly because they are lost and spiritually blind (cf. I Peter 2:11).
14. I will never forget what the dean of my Bible college said: “Any dead fish can swim downstream, we want men who can swim against the stream.”
15. Before moving on, let me remind you that separation is always unto God, as well as from the world.
16. And separation is not isolation (17:15,16). Some religions have members locking themselves as monks and hermits. These people eventually discover that they still have the sin nature with them no matter where they go.
17. There was a man who tried living alone as a hermit up on a mountain all by himself. He thought this would bring peace. But he accidentally kicked over his pitcher of water and got all upset. He realized his folly and went back to town.
18. I had a similar experience just the other day. I was all stirred up at the conference and then got angry at the airport when they made us take a different flight (going in the opposite direction!).
III. TRUE CHRISTIAN UNITY MUST BE BASED UPON SANCTIFICATION THROUGH THE WORD (17:17)
1. “Sanctification” means to be set apart for a specific purpose. Christians are to be set apart and to become more like God, while evidencing less of the characteristics of the world.
2. We are to exalt Christ and point sinners to Christ. Without holiness of life this is impossible.
3. The process of sanctification is effected through the truth (17:17). The Word of God has a sanctifying influence on people, even on the unsaved (17:17).
4. As we read God’s Word, and study God’s Word, and meditate upon God’s Word, and memorize God’s Word, God begins to work in us, and He sets us apart for His use.
5. Let me emphasize this point: the Bible does not contain the Word of God – the Bible is the Word of God. There is a big difference
6. The Bible does not merely contain truth – it is truth (17:17). Many books contain truth, but they are not the inspired Word of God.
7. Sanctification means “set apart,” and the Lord Jesus Christ set Himself apart for the work God sent Him here to do – die on the cross for our sins (17:19).
8. Because of our Lord’s sacrificial death on the cross, sanctification is made possible for us. Titus 2:14 says Christ, “gave Himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
9. Redemption comes first, then sanctification (“purify unto Himself a peculiar people”). J. Allen Blair said, “How we need to search our hearts before Him to be sure that every trace of disobedience and ungodliness be expelled, that the holiness of the Lord might be revealed through us” (Living Eternally, p. 270).
10. We are sanctified, set apart, through God’s Word (17:17; cf. Ps. 138:2; Matt. 24:35; John 15:3; II Tim. 3:16).
11. Read the Bible and God will set you apart for a great ministry. Neglect the Bible and you will backslide! D.L. Moody wrote in the flyleaf of his son’s Bible: “This book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book.”
12. Years ago there was a great preacher named J.C. Ryle who wrote these words: “The Word is the great instrument by which the Holy Spirit carried forward the work of inward sanctification. By bringing that Word to bear more forcibly on mind and will, and conscience, and affection, we make the character grow more holy. Sanctification from without by bodily austerities and asceticism, and a round of forms, ceremonies, and outward means, is a delusion. True sanctification begins from within. Here lies the immense importance of regularly reading the written Word, and hearing the preached Word. It surely, though insensibly, promotes our sanctification. Believers who neglect the Word will not grow in holiness and victory over sin.”
THE BIBLE – THERE IT STANDS!
Century follows century – there it stands,
Empires rise and fall and are forgotten – there it stands,
Dynasty succeeds dynasty – there it stands,
Kings are crowned and uncrowned – there it stands,
Emperors decree its extermination – there it stands,
Atheists rail against it – there it stands,
Agnostics smile cynically – there it stands,
Profane, prayerless punsters caricature it – there it stands,
Unbelief abandons it – there it stands,
Higher critics deny its claim to any inspiration – there it stands,
The flames are kindled about it – there it stands,
The tooth of time gnaws but makes no dent in it – there it stands,
Infidels predict its abandonment – there it stands,
Modernism tries to explain it away – but there it stands!