The Disciples' Relation to the World and Future Glory - John 17:14-27

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — John 17:23

In the first part of Jesus' prayer, which is recorded in John 17 we found that Jesus spoke of the disciples' relation to Himself. We found that in Him we have a Life-giver, a Revealer, an Intercessor, a Guarantor of our security, and a Bringer of joy. Most of these truths were familiar to us because they had been presented in the earlier teaching of the Book of John. In the last half of this wonderful prayer Jesus passes from what the disciples have in Himself to the outworking of those marvelous blessings, and to their full manifestation in the future. The last half of the chapter deals with the disciples' relation to the world, and to the glory of the Lord. While they are in the world God wants to manifest His presence and power in their lives as He will certainly manifest it in the future when all who have believed in Jesus will be glorified with Him. Col. 3:1-5.


John 17:14

Surely it is only reasonable that God should expect His children to be different from those of the world. He has made a distinction between believers and unbelievers as wide as eternity- This distinction may be seen in many facts. Whereas the children of the world are children of the devil (Jno. 8:44), the believer is a child of God through faith in Jesus (Gal. 3:26). The children of the world are subject to the wrath of God because of their sin (Rom. 1:18), but the children of God "shall not come into condemnation" (Jno. 5:24). The children of the world are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1), but the children of God are "passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). The children of the world are incapable of doing works which are pleasing to God because "without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Heb. 11:6), hut the children of God are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that they should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). Children of the world are shut out from the presence of the Lord "without God and without hope in the world" (Eph. 2:12), but the children of God have access with confidence into the very presence of the "throne of grace" (Heb. 4:16). The children of the world are aliens and strangers to God (Eph. 2:12), but the children of God have their "citizenship in heaven" (Eph. 2:19). To the children of the world there is no prospect for the future but that of awful fiery judgment (Heb. 10:26-27), but the children of God are expecting their Saviour from heaven, even the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall change their vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body (Phil. 3:20-21). The distinction between the children of the world and the children of God is as broad as that between heaven and hell. Surely God should be able to expect us to be different from the world in our lives since He has made such a difference in our standing before Him. Eph. 2; Rom. 12:1-2.

This wonderful distinction is suggested in the words "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (Vs. 14.) In this verse we see that believers are "not of the world." This implies the fact of regeneration. Our origin is not a worldly one. We are "born from above" (Jno. 3:3-7). The instant we believed in Jesus all things became new and we were made "new creatures in Christ." Here, too, is suggested the basis of this marvelous change, for Jesus said, "They are not of the world even as I am not of the world." In this is seen the truth of our identification with Him. It is because we are in Him that all of these wonderful things have come to pass in our standing before God. We are in Him, and He is not of the world, therefore we are not of the world. We are in Him, and He is holy with a perfect holiness, therefore we are counted holy with God's own righteousness (Rom. 3:22). All of the things which God has done for us are in Him. And as we are identified with Him in the blessings of the resurrection life so we may be and should be identified with Him in suffering the scorn and persecution of the world. The world hated Him, therefore we should not wonder if it hates us as it most assuredly will if we so live as to manifest the distinction which God has made between us and the children of the world. Gal. 3:26; II Cor. 5:17; I Cor. 1:30; Rom. 7:4; Jno. 15:18-19.


John 17:15-17

This distinction is manifested in a sanctified life. That is why Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them through thy truth." We are in the world but we are not of the world. It is not wrong for a Christian to be in the world, but it is very wrong for the world to be in the Christian. Jesus did not pray that we might be taken out of the world, but that we might be preserved from the evil which is in the world. This is our sanctification. (Vs. 15.)

The sanctified life does not mean that the old sinful nature is eradicated. So much misunderstanding has arisen about this matter that it is necessary for us to bear in mind that sanctification in the Scripture never means that the old sinful nature is taken out of the Christian or that he cannot sin again. Nor is it a thrilling experience which is called by the uninstructed "the baptism of the Holy Ghost." We have already learned that the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes to the believer the instant he trusts the Saviour. And the Scripture definitely teaches that it is possible for believers to sin as long as they are in the flesh. It also teaches that the old sinful nature will not be removed from us until we are with Jesus in the resurrection. But God wants His children to live victorious over sin. He wants to manifest His power in the life to such an extent that the enemies of the soul, — the world, the flesh, the demons, and the devil, — shall be defeated and the soul kept by the power of God. It is not possible for the Christian to get to the place where he cannot sin, but it is possible by the power and grace of God for a Christian to live so fully victorious that he does not sin. Rom. 6:13; I Cor. 1.2, 30, 31; I Cor. 3:1-3; Heb. 10:10-14; Jude 24.

This is possible only through the Word of God. Jesus showed how sane and sensible was the truth about sanctification when He prayed, "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy Word is truth." Only as a believer learns to meditate constantly in the Word of God, and to let it work out through his life can he know the power of C5od to keep him victorious over sin. God led the Psalmist to write, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee" (Psalm 119:11). And when Jesus, as a man, met the devil in the temptation, He met him with the Word, saying three times, "It is Written." So powerful did it prove that the devil was defeated, and compelled to leave Him in peace. Then, too, it is significant that God included the "Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Eph. 6:17), among the Christian's equipment for his conflict with the adversary and his forces. By constant meditation in the Word of God, and by applying it to our lives we may be made holy. In this way the sanctification which is ours in our standing before God may be manifested in our state. Psa. 119:9.


John 17:21

Another result which will be manifest in our lives when we are where God wants us to be is that we will render service to Him. This is indicated in the words, "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I sent them into the world." We know that Jesus came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). He came to give His life a ransom for sinners, and to save them (I Tim. 1:15). While that was distinctly Jesus' work, and we cannot in any sense die for the sins of others, we may give forth the message of His grace and we should do this even at the cost of personal sacrifice and suffering. In this we will become partakers with Him in His sufferings, and in His service. Jesus died to save sinners. Let us be willing to die, if necessary, in order to get them the good news of His offer of eternal life through faith in Him. We are sent into the world even as He was sent into the world, to seek the lost, and to give them the Good News of His death, which is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes it. Matt. 4:19; Rom. 1:15-17; Phil. 1:29.

If we do this faithfully many WILL believe and he saved. This is beautifully implied in the words "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word." Faithful service for the Lord Jesus is sure to be followed by fruitbearing for Him. We know that when we consistently preach His Word it will not return unto Him void, but it shall accomplish that which He pleases and shall prosper in the thing whereto He sent it.. We know that when we labor earnestly in the ministry of the Gospel, "our labor is not in vain in the Lord." For this we have His definite promises. Faithful service brings fruitful results. The simple proclamation of the Word concerning Christ brings others to believe in Him. Isa. 55:10-11; I Cor. 15:58.


John 17:21

Still another result of the yielding of the life to Him, is that we are transformed and made like Him. Jesus prayed, "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." In these words He suggested the truth of the believer's standing and state. Our standing is what we are in God's sight, and our state is what we are in the sight of men. Our standing is our position in Christ, and our state is our condition in this life. The record of the Scripture is very plain, teaching that our standing is perfect. We are "one" with Him and in Him now in the eyes of God. That is the basis of our salvation. We cannot be other than identified with Him in our standing, but oh! how pitifully short our state comes. How many times are we other than one with Him in our lives. The transformation which God wants to produce in us is that He may work in and through us to manifest the perfect unity in our lives which is ours in our standing before Him. Col. 2:10; I Cor. 1:30; Rom. 3:22.

When we are manifestly at one with Him in our lives it causes unbelievers of the World to believe in Him. This is seen in Jesus' words, "That they may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." There is no testimony more powerful in convincing men of the deity and grace and power of the Lord Jesus than the testimony of a transformed life, — a life which reflects His light — a life which is evidently lived in the unity of the Spirit. Doubtless one reason why the world is becoming constantly more hardened against the Gospel is that so many of God's children live worldly lives instead of transformed lives. But that is all the more reason why we should seek constantly to be transformed into His likeness by yielding to Him. The very darkness of the night of sin in which we live will make our light to shine more brightly if we but let Him fill us and manifest Himself through us. And when we do this we may be used of Him to turn many to righteousness through leading them to faith in Him. II Cor. 3:3, 18; Rom. 12:1-2; Matt. 5:14-16.


John 17:22-24

Another most 'wonderful tiling which God has done for us in our standing, and which He wants to manifest for us in our state is that He has glorified us with Christ. Jesus said, "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one." In the mind of God the believer is glorified with Christ now. We are raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This blessed and wonderful fact may be manifested in our lives through the transformation which God wants to produce in us. There is nothing but unity between God the Father and His Son, Jesus, now. This perfect unity is one of the characteristics of His glory. Though it is impossible for His glory to be fully manifested while we are in the flesh, this one thing may be manifested, — we may be one with Him in all things. I Pet. 5:1-4.

How blessed it is to know that the glory which is ours now in our standing shall be shared visibly in the future! Our state will then meet our standing, and there will be no difference. When we shall see Him we shall be like Him. "When He shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory." This fact is suggested in the words, "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me; for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world." Rom. 8:18; Col. 3:4; I Jno. 3:2.


John 17:25-26

In the meantime, while we are waiting for the manifestation of His glory, we may enjoy the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and fellowship with Him in a way which is impossible to the world. The world knows not our God. And it knows not the sweetness of His love. These things are the exclusive portion of believers in Him. He has given unto us the privilege of knowing the truth. And He has revealed His love to us. How we ought to appreciate this, and we will appreciate it more and more as we live in the light of His presence and let Him teach us how to enjoy the knowledge of His Word and the blessings of fellowship with Him. It is impossible for one to tell another of the joys of this privilege. Even one who has entered into the deepest delights which come from meditating in the truth, and fellowshipping with Him can only say to others who have not enjoyed that privilege as yet, "Oh! taste and see that the Lord is good." Psa. 34:8; I Pet. 1:8.