Our Lord’s Prayer
We will take as our lesson for today the 17th chapter of St. John. In this lesson we have what may be properly termed our ‘Lord’s prayer. We have been accustomed to speaking of the prayer in Matt. 6 as the Lord’s prayer, but in reality that is the disciples prayer. In this chapter we have a prayer offered by our Lord while within the shadow of the cross. There is always a peculiar interest attaches to the last words or expressed wish of our departed friend.
We shall not study this chapter consecutively but rather in subjects, and the first thought I wish to present may be expressed as seven arguments whereby we prove that the disciples were justified before they were sanctified on the day of Pentecost. We will read first the 6th verse: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gayest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gayest them me; and they have kept thy word.” The sentence I wish to emphasize is “out of the world.” Also read the 14th verse and the 16th verse: “I have given them thy word: and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” You will note that three times He says that they are not of the world; they are no more of the world than He was of the world and they are so utterly separated from the world the world hates them. He says plainly in the 9th verse, “I pray not for the world.” If they were not of the world, they must have had some inward change, which changed their relationship to the world. A man may be said to be of the world until he is adopted into God’s family, after which he becomes a citizen of another ommonwealth; his citizenship is in heaven, If they were not of the world and were not Christians, what were they?
The second argument is based upon the first sentence of the 10th verse: “And all mine are thine, and thine are mine.” The same thought is found in the 6th verse and in the 9th verse. Here Jesus claims them in a very special sense as his own. Surely He would not speak thus of the sinner and the man of the world, We think this testimony of Jesus located them very definitely. The third argument may be found in the 6th verse: “They have kept thy word.” Surely this could not be said of an unconverted man. If these men were yet unconverted, as is claimed by some, and yet kept His word, it would be quite a reflection upon multitudes of our day who represent themselves as converted and yet deny the possibility of keeping His word. If they had kept His word, there certainly would be no guilt or condemnation, We would fail to see what more they would do if they were converted.
The fourth argument may be based upon the first sentence of the 12th verse: “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gayest me I have kept.” They had kept His word, and He in turn had kept them. It is even so today. Any man who will keep His word will himself be divinely kept. Kept from sin. Surely no one would suppose that Jesus kept them in sin. If you have not been divinely kept from sin, it is because you have failed to keep His word.
The fifth argument may be based upon the last sentence in the 10th verse: “I am glorified in them.” This would not apply to the sinner. Jesus is not glorified in the life of the unregenerate, hence, we must again conclude that they were converted.
The sixth argument may be based upon the latter part of the 12th verse: “None of them is lost, but the son of perdition,” meaning Judas. If they were not lost, they must have been saved. A man is surely saved or lost, and as we understand it, men are lost until they are saved. But Jesus testifies that none of these is lost excepting Judas.
The seventh argument may be based upon the third verse: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Not know some things about Jesus and about God, but know Him. There is a vast difference in knowing some things about a person and knowing the person. Multitudes know about Christ, who do not know Him. Multitudes knew Jesus as a good man or as a great teacher, who did not know Him in His divinity as the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. But Jesus testifies of these disciples, that they have “known surely” concerning His divinity. Read verses 7 and 8 of St. John 17: “Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gayest me; and they have received them and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me, If they have known Him in the proper sense, then we must conclude they had eternal life. We wish to apply to this thought the most thorough test. If you will turn to first Corinthians 12th chapter and the latter part of the 3rd verse, you will find “That no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but the Holy Ghost.” You ask, “Why may not any man say that Jesus is the Lord, if he is so inclined?” Simply because he does not know Him, and is dependent entirely upon external evidence or the testimony of others. He may be mistaken or misinformed. His knowledge at the best is a mere historic knowledge, but a man who has eternal life has had Christ revealed to his inner consciousness by the Holy Ghost, so is not necessarily dependent upon external evidences. Such an one is not disturbed by the empty twaddle of higher critics or lower crickets or any other sort of a cricket. He knows whom he has believed, Now the question is, “Did the disciples have this inward revelation of the Christ by the spirit?” We answer, “Yes.”
Turn to Matt. 16 — and read the 13th to the 17 verses: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” You see that even in that day there was a diversity of opinion concerning the Christ, But to Peter, Jesus testified, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Showing that they had this inward divine revelation by the Spirit. ‘We insist that he who has that, has eternal life. Either of these arguments would prove to an unbiased mind that the disciples were converted prior to the Pentecost, for neither of these arguments would apply to the sinner, This is an important point. Whoever will admit or allow that the disciples were justified prior to the Pentecost virtually admits the second blessing theory, for if they had an experience prior to the Pentecost, they certainly received another experience on the day of the Pentecost, and so must have ‘had a subsequent or second experience.
Before considering the petitions in the prayer, we wish to emphasize for just a moment a few lessons that we should have learned by this time. 1st: That Christians must be separate from the world. Christ greatly emphasized and pressed this point. 2nd: That men need not be sanctified or have the second blessing in order to be divinely kept from sinning. That “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” Persons who are sinning every day need to be converted or reclaimed as the case may be. They are not eligible to the sanctifying grace.
The third and most beautiful thought we would note is that here we may learn the nature of His intercessions for us. I love to read Hebrew 9-24: “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” And remember that Jesus does now “appear in the presence of God for us. He has said that if we would confess Him before men, He would confess us before the Father and before the Holy Angels. We represent Him here, and He represents us there. We plead for Him here and He pleads for us there, He is our representative in the skies and we are His representatives in the earth, In this prayer He speaks as though He were already with the Father, for in verses 1 I and 12, He says, “Now I am no more in the world” — “While I was with them in the world.” He speaks as though He had already taken up His ministry of intercession. Would you not love to know what He says to the father about us. There is always a peculiar interest attaches where our name is quoted. It is quite natural when hearing even our best friends engaged in a conversation quoting our name to just crane the neck a little bit to hear what they are saying. Not that we care, but we would just like to know what they had to say. So it will doubtless be of interest to you to know what Jesus is saying to the Father concerning us: and it is evident that He desires we should know, for He tells us in verse 13: “These things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves, As though He would say, “I want them to know what I am saying to Thee and get happy about it.”
The first petition will be found in the 11th verse: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” And in like manner in the 15th verse: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” ‘He does not pray that they should be taken out of this evil world, but that they should be kept from the evil that is in the world. Is not this your own daily prayer? How ‘blessed to know that Jesus catches up the petition of your prayer and mingles with it His own prayer or makes it His very own prayer in our behalf. One might suppose that even if the Father did not hear our prayer, He would surely hear the prayer of His son in our behalf. Jesus is our advocate with the Father and He has taught us to pray in His name. That is to say, whenever you desire anything from the Father, send up your petition in the care of Jesus and he will present the petition to the Father in our behalf.
In coming to your city, I say to my friends, “Address me, Chicago, Ill., in care of the Christian Witness Co.” The ‘postmaster does not know me but he does know the Christian Witness Co. and so forwards the letter to them, and they being my personal friends will see that the letter reaches me, though I should be in Jerusalem; they will re-address it and re-stamp it, if need be, and forward the same to me, because they are my friends.
A few years ago I was appointed as the executor of one estate and the administrator of another estate. I knew but little about such matters and neither did I have time to give attention to such matters, as I was busy preaching the second blessing. So I at once employed a first class ‘Attorney and placed the matter pertaining to this business wholly into his hands. So he represented me at the courts and arranged matters in legal phraseology, saying to the court, “Your petitioner prayeth thus and so,” and fixed up everything as it should have been done and far better than I could have done it, and I went right on preaching the second blessing. This Attorney represented me and attended to all my claims in the matter. Even so Jesus represents us before the Father and ever pleads our interests. This thought should dispel our fears and make us to rejoice.
Now we will take up the second petition in prayer found in verse 17: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” According to this, Jesus believed in sanctification. He certainly would not pray for something in which He did not believe. Yea according to this prayer, He believed sanctification was a second experience, not for the world but for believers. And according to this prayer, Jesus believed that sanctification was a divine act, and, therefore, could not be the result of growth. He was not praying to growth or to death or to purgatory, but to the Father, We can never grow into a divine act. It is something that God must do for us. And still again from this prayer, we learn that Jesus believed sanctification was possible in this life, for He did not desire that the Father should take them out of the world at this time, but sanctify them in this present world. You may urge that this was a prayer simply for the early Church, but Jesus tells us in verse 20: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word,” which includes us for have we not believed though their word. So Jesus is actually and really praying for our sanctification, Has this prayer of Jesus been answered in your behalf? If not, let this be the day in which it shall have its answer, It will be answered when you make it your prayer.
In this prayer Jesus at once recognizes both the human and the divine side of sanctification.
In verse 19 He says: “For their sakes I sanctify myself.” Note He did not ask the Father to sanctify Him. He did not need the divine work of sanctification or purification. He sanctified Himself in a sense of devotement. Every dictionary recognizes this two-fold definition of sanctification, which means consecration or separation or dedication or devotement on the human side and cleansing or purification or making holy on the divine side. In speaking of Himself, He recognizes this human side of sanctification and in speaking of the disciples He recognizes this divine side ofsanctification. This two-fold meaning of sanctification is clearly set forth in Leviticus 20:7-8. First He says “Sanctify yourselves,” and then says, “I am the Lord which sanctify you.” Jesus sanctified Himself, that is offered or devoted or yielded Himself to the death of the cross in order that He might provide our sanctification and so make our sanctification a possibility. We learn here that the atonement contemplates our sanctification, as is also expressed in Hebrews 13:12: “Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate.” Next He states the object of our sanctification, In the first sentence of the 21st verse: “That they all may be one.” While the opposer says sanctification divides the Church, Jesus says it makes His true disciples one, This is not necessarily an organic union or a theological union. It does not mean that sanctified people will see alike on all points, It is a heart union, and if sanctified people see differently touching given matters and cannot agree they will simply agree to disagree, and will agree to disagree in an agreeable manner, They are one in the all essential matters.
Then He gives as the object of this unity in verse 21: “That the world may believe.” Now the revival is to begin. He who opposes sanctification opposes the divine method for oneness, and in opposing the divine method of unity, he is opposing the divine method for saving the world; hence, ministers who antagonize the doctrine of sanctification as a second experience seldom are known to be great revivalists. I believe in working according to the plans of the divine architect.
The carpenter’s son knows how to dove-tail things together so they fit. He says first keep them from the evil and then sanctify them through the truth, and thus unify them and make them one and then the revival shall break forth. The world shall believe. And after the world believes and the revival fire is kindled He tells us in verse 22: “The glory which thou gayest me I have given them,” and concludes the prayer by saying in verse 24: “I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold the glory which thou hast given me.”
I am not unmindful of the arguments advanced by our opponents, with reference to the disciples having been justified prior to the Pentecost, To be fore-warned is to be fore-armed, hence, we shall now consider the arguments urged against this doctrine, They will ask you, “Do you believe that regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit?” The answer is, “Yes.” “When then,” they will ask, “was the Holy Spirit given?” The most natural answer is, on the day of Pentecost. “How then could they be born of the Spirit before the Spirit was given?” To some this seems to be a very profound argument: and, of course, if we admit the premises we cannot avoid the conclusion; certain it is, that they could not be born of the Spirit before the Spirit was in the world. We simply need to remind such that they are mistaken in their premises. The facts are, the Spirit was in the world prior to the Pentecost. If you will turn to Genesis, (which is in the Old Testament) and read the second verse of the first chapter you will learn that the Spirit was present in the world in the very creation of the world, The day of Pentecost simply marked the day of inauguration, when He took the reins of government. He had been elected many centuries before this. I have known some who would admit that the Spirit of God was in the world, but not the Holy Ghost and so would try to distinguish between the Spirit of God and the Holy Ghost. If you will turn to 2nd Peter, 1:21, you will see that the Holy Ghost was in the world. For it is said, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The prophets had the Holy Ghost, and are said to have been moved by the Holy Ghost. In like manner we read in the first chapter of Luke of Zacharias being filled with the Holy Ghost and his wife, Elizabeth, also being filled with the Holy Ghost. This certainly was prior to the Pentecost.
Again, they call our attention to Luke 22:32, where Jesus says to Peter, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” They argue from this that Peter was not converted. Their difficulty arises in giving an undue emphasis to this word “converted.” The Revised Version gives us the more correct rendering, viz.: “When thou art turned once again, strengthen thy brethren.” The word convert does not necessarily signify regeneration. It is entirely proper to say, “This church was converted into a dwelling.” Or, “That dwelling was converted into a business block,” by which we understand it was turned into another use. We need to read the 31st verse as well as the 32nd: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Why should Satan desire to have him if he already had him? Why should he sift him as wheat if he was all chaff and no wheat in him? Why should he say, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not,” if he had no faith? While Jesus had told Peter that he would deny Him and would need to be turned again, he recognized the fact that Peter did have faith, and that he was not yet in Satan’s possession. Certainly we will need to admit that Peter did deny his Lord, so it will be necessary to look into his case somewhat.
We will now locate Peter after he has denied his Lord. Read Mark 16:5-7: — “And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them be not affrighted: “Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him, But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you.” You see we are at the sepulchre. The young man sitting on the right side was an angel. What we know of angels is that they were created from the beginning, so this “young man” was perhaps four thousand years old, — simply “a young man.” He says, “Tell His disciples and Peter.” Is not Peter one of the disciples? Why should his name have special mention? The facts are, Peter at the present time is what we would term “a back-slider.” Had the angel said, “Tell His disciples” prior to the time when Peter denied his Lord, it would have included Peter.
Doubtless this was a very welcome message to Peter. Peter is feeling sad. He feels as every back-slider must feel that he has lost the confidence of his brethren, and the confidence and respect of the world as well. While considering other matters, Peter’s case is doubtless being considered by the infant Church. What shall we do with Peter? One of the Apostles may have said, “Well I was afraid Peter would not stick. Ever since the time that Jesus said to him, ‘get thee behind me Satan,’ I knew that Peter did not have the right spirit.” Another may have said, “Well, I had hoped that Peter would stick, of course when he refused to permit Jesus wash his feet, I knew Peter was going wrong.” Said still another, “Well, I had hoped Peter might hold out, but of course, when he drew . that sword and cut off that man’s ear ‘ at the time they arrested Jesus (I don’t think he aimed at the ear either) I knew then that Peter was wrong.” Perhaps John, the beloved, was the last to speak, and he said, “Well, brethren, I too had hoped Peter might be faithful, but, of course, since we all heard him curse and swear and so deny his Lord, I presume we shall need to expel him from the Church.” And just then came the messenger from the sepulchre, saying, Jesus says, “Tell His disciples and Peter;” don’t forget poor Peter, Oh, the tenderness and long suffering and gentleness of Jesus, how He clings to the erring and sends a special message to the poor backslider.
You may now turn to the 21st chapter of John, the last chapter preceding the Pentecost, reading the 7th verse: “Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him (for he was naked), and did cast himself into the sea.” See how here Peter hastened to Jesus. He did not wait until the ship was brought to shore, and Jesus did not hold Peter off at arm’s length and administer a caustic rebuke, but said (v. 12), “Come and dine,” and after they had dined, Jesus and Peter had a little after-dinner interview. Read the 15th to 17th verses: “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, Lovest thou me? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, lovest thou me?
And he saith unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee. Jesus said unto him, Feed my sheep.” How often had Peter denied his Lord? Three times. How often does he confess his Lord? Three times. And you see that Peter is here fully reinstated and re-commissioned to continue in the work. You see Peter had lost his parchments, but Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs” and “Feed my sheep,” thus restoring to him his license to preach. We see Peter was fully reinstated prior to the Pentecost, and is now among the 120 in the upper room engaged in that prayer meeting (Acts 1:14-15), and so becomes the mighty preacher of the Pentecost. So we would still insist that Peter had been truly saved prior to the Pentecost. We need to remember that it was Peter who answered, “Thou art the Christ,” and to whom Jesus said, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father, which is in heaven,” showing that Peter had that spiritual revelation of the Christ, and so had eternal life.