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THE WORLD—OR HIS OWN, #840

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine (JOH 17:9).

In MIC 6 we read that the Lord has a controversy with His people. Micah goes on to point out what constitutes godliness that is acceptable in God’s sight. Verse 8 says, "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" The previous two verses say, "Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"

The Lord is reasoning with us and asking whether He would be pleased with ritual and formality from a heart is not right with Him. Verse 10 talks about people doing unjustly to their fellow man, "Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable?" The Lord is dealing with the law of love. The central theme of the gospel message is "do unto others as you would they do unto you." We must understand that the Spirit of God is a spirit of love. The Lord does not require us to do a lot of ritual and a lot of things that would seem to appeal to the flesh. He wants our heart.

Who are they? The previous verses tell us plainly. In JOH 17:6-8 we read, "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 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 gavest 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." This is how the Lord Jesus distinguishes between those whom the Father has given Him and those who are designated as the world. Those who have received and kept His Word are those whom the Father has given Him. The world are those who have not received and have not accepted His word and have refused to live by His word. This word received as we find in verse 8 comes from the Greek word labano, which means to take, to lay hold of, to take upon yourself or with the heart, to receive. We have taken a hold of His words, we have accepted them and have put them into action.

When the Lord tells us to do unto others as we would they do unto us, we do not just take that as a nice piece of literature, but we put it into action. We put into action what the Lord has given us in His Word.

This is the substantial distinction between those whom the Father has given unto His Son and those whom He has left unto the delusion of their own deceitful hearts. The Lord has chosen His people from before the foundation of the world, and the Father has given to the Son those who were His own. We understand from ROM 8:7 that all by nature are at enmity against God, are not subject to His law, and neither indeed can be. Our hearts were filled with bitterness and hatred against God. Those whom the Father has given to His Son have hearts filled with love and that bitter hatred against the Word of God has been removed.

2TH 2:10 says, "Because they received not [that is, they rejected] the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." In today’s economy many may think they are saved and are not. They have received a delusion because they did not want to walk by and put into action what the Lord has commanded us in His Word. They wanted to live in unrighteousness. They were not willing to live by the law of love, loving God with their hearts, souls and minds, and their neighbors as themselves.

There is nothing more compelling in our prayers than pleading the fact that we are His own children. Our parental relationship with our children assures that their needs will be met when they ask us. This is the relationship we have with God. Those who have received the truth, those who have loved the truth, those who desire to do what is pleasing to the Lord, they have that evidence that they are of the family of God, and that evidence gives them access to the Father in prayer as a family relationship. As the Saviour intercedes, His plea is "for they are thine." We are His own children. Nothing has more compelling access to the throne of grace than pleading, "You are my God. I am yours."

This personal interest in the flock of His pasture is pleaded in ISA 64:8-9, "But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people." God molds us into the shape He wants us to be, and we are to offer no resistance. The clay offers no resistance to the potter. The Lord has given us the desire to do His will.

This plea is not the plea of the world, that is, those who have not received His Word. MAL 1:6 says, "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?" He is talking about those who have much religion but do not have hearts that love the Lord. They are not willing to accept that they have not honored Him as a father.

Even though we cannot plead any merit before our Heavenly Father, yet there is nothing more compelling in prayer than pleading our family relationship with Him. The merit is in Christ and His perfect obedience. So who is it that can plead this? HEB 2:10-13 says, "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me." Salvation is about sanctification, cleansing, purifying, being set apart for the Master’s use.

Even though we often have need to beg our Father to behold us in that perfect obedience of His blessed Son when we get a glimpse of our wretched disobedience, yet He knows our hearts. ROM 7:22-25 says, "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." This is gospel obedience, when we from the heart desire to do His will. The Apostle Paul confesses that that old nature is still there. There is a desire to what is pleasing to God, yet the old nature strives against us. However, the blessed obedience of Christ is now imputed to us because we have a desire to please Him. We desire to do His will even though we fall so far short.

This furnishes good cause before the courts of heaven for mercy. See how the next chapter begins. ROM 8:1-4 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us [who have received His words, that is], who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Our hunger and desire are not after the flesh. It is after the Spirit.

We have God’s word that through His parental relationship He looks upon His dear children’s shortcomings in mercy. We all sin and come short of the glory of God, but that is why we have Christ, that perfect atonement of Christ and His righteousness to plead before God. PSA 103:13-14 says, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."

 

We find throughout Scripture the same distinguishing separation between His own and the world, that is, those who fear him and have received His Words and those who have rejected Him. PSA 103:8-13 says, "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him."

There is such a blessed assurance when we can come into the presence of our God pleading this family relationship. EPH 2:18-19 says, "For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God."

There is such blessed assurance of this family relationship in our Saviour’s intercessory prayer in the chapter before us. JOH 17:9-11 says, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are." His entire petition is in that family relationship.

See how our Saviour uses logic to assure us of our access unto His throne through this family relationship. MAT 7:9-12 says, "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law [of love] and the prophets." If we have missed this central point of the gospel, we have a false gospel. We become reconciled with God by following His words. In the fall of man, man has come to hate God and his neighbor.

MAT 7:13 continues, "Enter ye in at the strait [difficult to stand] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." We must enter this situation where it is difficult to stand—in that spiritual warfare between our human nature and that love of love. It takes grace, it takes God’s help to do this.

MAT 7 begins, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." On the judgment day, God will set us in the judgment seat and let us be the judge. He will bring back every thought and intent of our hearts and ask whether that was what we wanted done to us.

It is outright blasphemy for those who have rejected the authority of Christ and His Word to claim a part in His intercessory prayer. If we refuse to accept His words and live by them, then claim to have a part in His intercessory prayer, it is blasphemy.

PSA 50:16-19 says, "But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit." Those who have received His words are those He is praying for as His own. Those who have not lived by the law of love have no right to come before God and claim Him as their Father.

Our Saviour distinguishes between those whom the Father has given His words (or those who received His words) and the world. See where this distinction is found in JOH 17:8-9, "For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest 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. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine." Those whom the Father has given Him are given a desire to keep His words. If we can come before the Lord and say that we have a desire to do what is pleasing in His sight, we have a right to tell Him, I am Yours. My heart is yours. Then we may plead every promise in the Bible. The Lord has no pleasure in anything you are if He does not have your heart.

Our consecration unto the will of God is our clearest evidence that we have that family relationship Christ pleads before our heavenly Father. The first evidence of grace is that our will has been renewed. PSA 110:1-3 says, "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth."

How many churches teach repentance? How many churches teach that we need a new heart? That we have to have a desire to do what is pleasing to the Lord? That we have to become reconciled to the will of God? 2CO 5:18-21 says, "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." The only thing that keeps us from being reconciled with the Father would be if we reject His words. If we are reconciled with Him, we can be found as righteous as God Himself.

Outside of the grace of God we are no different than any other. EPH 2:3-6 says, "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Grace means divine influence on the heart that reveals itself in your life. We are saved by the Holy Spirit influencing our hearts, giving us a new will, giving us a new desire to serve the Lord. We claim no merit. We cannot do it ourselves. We know we have grace if the Holy Spirit has given us a new will.

Divisions and deceit among those who profess to be Christians feeds atheism in those who are offended by their hypocrisies. Therefore our Saviour puts emphasis on the Spirit of unity. JOH 17:23 says, "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."

 

Our Saviour pleads, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee," but why have they not known Him? They did not receive His words. ACT 13:45-48 says, "But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."

Our Saviour’s recorded prayers are certainly recorded for our learning by His example. The Lord Jesus Christ never asked anything without submission to and in subjection to the will of His Father. MAT 26:39 says, "And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

Christ knew His Father’s will was that He should atone for His people, so why would He have asked that the cup pass from Him? Because He also knew His Father was almighty! He could spare Him if He wanted to. This is the basis on which you and I can pray. You and I can ask the Lord to do things, subject to His will, knowing that He is almighty and that He can do it. HEB 5:7-9 says, "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."

Now that Christ has paid the price of our sin, justice demands our acquittal. Our Saviour’s intercession now before the Father is not a plea for mercy, but as a matter of right. You cannot ask to be paid twice. That would be double jeopardy.

The Lord Jesus Christ, as our Advocate, stands before the courts of heaven, and Satan comes and presents our sins, but our Advocate holds up His hands with His scars, in which are written the names of all His people. The price for them has been paid. He comes before the Judge, the Father, and pleads His own merit and says, I have paid their penalty. Now justice demands their acquittal. We can never be found guilty anymore because that price has been paid in full. Now He pleads right, not mercy. 1CO 6:19-20 says, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s." Can you imagine sinning against such love? Can you imagine rejecting such love? We are to glorify God in our walk of life.

The only prayers that will ever gain the Father’s ear are those by our blessed Intercessor and those of ours that He offers on the altar of incense. Every prayer that we pray has to be taken before the Father by His own Son. REV 8:2-4 says, "And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar [or the atonement of our Saviour] which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense [which is Christ’s intercession], which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand."

HEB 7:25 says, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."

As our text says, our Saviour prays for those who have accepted His word. He does not pray for the world, those who have rejected His word.


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