In John 17 Jesus prayed for his church. That prayer is a powerful statement about His concern for her and His protection. Join us as Robert explains the importance of this prayer.

ROBERT >> Good morning. We’re so glad that you joined us today for The Truth In Love. Today I want to talk to you about one of the prayers of Jesus. It was a prayer that he made before going to the cross and before his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. What was it that was on his heart? What was he so concerned about that he spent time with his Father in prayer? Well, stay tuned, and we’ll be back in just a moment.

SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> Today I want us to take a look at Jesus’ prayer recorded in John chapter 17. If you have your Bibles, let me encourage you to get them and turn with me so we can study together today. You’ll notice here that Jesus had just shared the Passover meal with his apostles. And that night, he would be betrayed by Judas, and after his trials be crucified by the Romans. Yet Jesus’ main concern was not for himself, but for his followers.

He said of his apostles in verse 9, “I pray for them.”And then he said, notice, in verse 20, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.”

Jesus knew that after he left, his church would need his father’s help. Let’s notice what Jesus prayed his father for that church. First of all, let’s notice he prayed his father that you would keep them.

Read verses 11 through 15 with me. “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom you gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.”

Yes, Father, he says, you keep them. And you’ll notice he said here to keep them through your name. That was his prayer. By your power, by your authority.

In John 6:39, Jesus had spoken there how that his father would not allow him to lose any of them, but that he would raise them up the last day.

And in John 10:29, he told us that no one could snatch them out of his father’s hand. Jesus knew that neither the world nor the evil one was as powerful as God.

There is no greater, the Hebrew writer said in chapter 6 verse 13. God is able, God is able to keep us from this world.”

1 John 4:4 tells us that, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

Yes, we have the promise of God that he is greater than the one in this world, that he is able to keep us from the evil one. “Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might,” Ephesians 6:10.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit.”And do this with all prayer, Paul said, as you go on in Ephesians 6.

When we go out into this world, let’s remember that we do not go alone, that we go with God. He is able to keep us, to keep us from the world, to keep us from temptation. “I’ll not tempt you above what you are able,
he said. I’ll make with that temptation a way of escape,” he said, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

He’s able to keep us through every trial to the very end. Kept by God through faith according to 1 Peter 1:5. For what?

For an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fades not away he described there in verse 4. You see, as we’re going through our trials, this testing of our faith, we can continue on and keep on going on because we have hope. We have a sure and a certain hope that God has prepared for us. We’re kept through Jesus Christ according to Jude verse 1. We’re preserved in him. Not only does Jesus pray that the father would keep his followers, his church from this world, but he also prays, That you would sanctify them.

Let’s go back to John 17 and read with me verse 16 through 19. “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As you sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”

Yes, you see, Jesus prayed that God would sanctify his people. Sanctify literally means to set apart or make holy. Jesus prays that his father will set us apart from the world as holy unto God for his purposes, for his service. And this he does by his word, his truth.

Psalm 119:151 reminds us, “All your commandments are truth.”

In John 8:31-32, Jesus said, “You are my disciples indeed if you abide in Me and My words abide in you. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

It’sby means of that word, of that truth that we are set apart from this world, that we’re set free from our sins to live for God.

In John 15:3 he told his apostles, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”

That’s why he told us in Mark 16:15-16 to “go into all the world, to preach the gospel to every creature; he that believes and is baptized shall be saved; he that disbelieves will be condemned.”

It’s that word that sets us apart from the world, that saves our souls. As Paul said in Romans 1:16-17, “the gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes.”

Yes, it’s from this word that we obtain our faith. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Romans 10:17 tells us.

It’s by the washing of the water through the word that the church is cleansed, it’s made pure. This is the picture in Ephesians 5:26, where the church is compared to a bride purified by the washing of water through the word. You see, when we hear the word of the gospel and we respond by being baptized into Christ, our sins are washed away. That’s the power of obedience to the gospel. It’s because of our faith in and our obedience to that word that we are cleansed in the blood of Jesus Christ, being baptized into him.

This is the way the Bible puts it in the book of Acts, chapter 22, verse 16: “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

And so James 1:21 tells us, “Receive the word. Receive the word with meekness which is able to save your souls. Peter put it like this in 1 Peter 1:22-25: Seeing you have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth by the Spirit, he said, you’ve been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible through the word of God. The glad tidings, the good news, as he puts it in verse 25. And as Christians, we are commanded to earnestly desire the sincere milk of the word that we might grow thereby unto salvation, 1 Peter 2:2-3.

Every Christian is a saint. That is, we have been sanctified. We’ve been set apart. We now belong to God, and we’re to give ourselves to
him. Just as the apostle Paul pointed out to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 1:2, calling them sanctified, telling them they’d been called to be saints, holy ones, and reminding them that they are in fact the temple of God.

I look in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, and I see that the church there was called the temple of God and they were admonished not to defile that temple. Not only that, but their very bodies were referred to as a holy temple to the Lord in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

He said, You’re not your own, you’ve been bought with a price, and therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are His. We belong to God, and we’re to give ourselves to God. Our very bodies are a holy temple in which and through which and by which we worship God. Our bodies are a holy sacrifice to God according to Romans 12:1, where Paul said, I beseech you by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And so you see, the church is God’s holy temple, our bodies are his holy temple, our bodies are a holy sacrifice being offered in that holy temple; and not only that, but according to 1 Peter chapter 2, we as God’s people are a holy priesthood offering those sacrifices in the holy temple.

1 Peter 2:5 says you built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. In verse 9 and 10 he calls the church a royal priesthood, a special people, God’s own special possession, for a special purpose, he says in verse 10, that we may show forth the praises of Him. And thus we need to see ourselves as sanctified, set apart from this world, saints, holy ones to bring glory to God.

Yes, we’re in the world, but we’re not of the world. Right now, we live here on the earth in the flesh, but this world is only our temporary home. We’re just passing through. We’re sojourners and pilgrims on the earth.

According to 1 Peter 2:11 we’re to abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul because we understand this is not our home.

Our citizenship is in heaven, Philippians 3:20. So not only are we separate from this world, we’re in the world but not of the world, but Jesus Christ actually sent us into the world. And he sent us into the world with one mission: To make disciples of Christ.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel,” or as Matthew 28:19 puts it, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them,” he says.

He says you, Christians, you are the light of the world, you are the salt of the earth.

We are to be an influence for Christ according to Matthew 5:14-16. He says, Even so, “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Or as it’s put in Philippians 2:14-16, we’re in the midst of this crooked and perverse world, this generation. He says you shine forth as lights, holding forth the word of truth. Jesus prayed for his church. He prayed for his followers. He prayed that God would keep them from the world, that he would set them apart, sanctify them from this world for his purposes, for his service.Now I also want you to notice that Jesus prayed that they would all be one.

Look again at John 17, and notice verses 20 through 23. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one; I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and
have loved them as You have loved Me.”

Jesus prays for the unity of his apostles. But not only that, he also prays for all those who believe in Christ through their word. These are true Christians, not mere professing Christians. This unity is only found in the Father and in the Son. United with God, we are united with one another. It is our common faith and love that binds us together as one. And when the world sees this, they’ll believe Christ was sent by God and that God loves them. You see, the unity of God’s people is so important. It’s best outlined, I think, in Ephesians 4:1-16.

And if you’ll look at this very quickly, you’ll notice first of all the spirit of unity in the first three verses. It involves walking worthy of our calling. It also involves an attitude of lowliness, an attitude of gentleness and of patience or longsuffering, of bearing with one another in love. It means that we’re going to make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace, as Paul says there. The spirit of unity. This determines whether or not we’ll keep that unity that God has brought to his people.

And as you go on in Ephesians 4, you’ll notice in verses 4 through 6 the platform of unity. “One body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in you all.”

This defines what unity God has for his people. This is what it is. And then there are the building blocks of unity in verses 7 through 16, where we read about how Christ has given gifts to his church, some to be apostles and prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, till we all come to the unity of the faith, to the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. And so it’s with these gifts that we can build up God’s church so that we can become united as one, mature, growing up in Christ, as he says in the very last verse, Causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Beyond a doubt, strife and wrangling and division among God’s people are a stumbling block to the outside world. And if we’re ever to convince this world that God loves them so that he sent his son to save them, we must be united in that same faith, in that same love. But let’s also notice from John 17 another point from Jesus’ prayer here in verse 24, where the Bible says, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”Jesus prayed to God his father, That they may be with Me where I am. This is not only Jesus’ prayer, but this is his promise. In John 14:1-6, he says, “Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. For, he says, I go and prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

You know, Thomas didn’t know where he was going and what this was all about, but Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes unto the Father but by Me.”

Jesus Christ says I’m going to go and prepare a place for you, but I’m going to come back and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And when he comes, he’s not going to send a chauffeur to get us, no; he’s coming for us himself. The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first, and then we
which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. When he’s revealed, we’ll be like him.

We’ll see Him as He is, according to 1 John 3:2. When he appears, we’ll appear with him in his glory according to Colossians 3:4. You see, Christ is praying that you all will be with him in heaven. This is what sustains us in our trials so that we don’t become discouraged, we don’t give up on Christ, but we continue faithful to the very end so that one forever day we can see his face.

But finally, notice what Jesus prays in John 17:25-26. “O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

Jesus prayed that while we wait for him to come andtake us home, that his father’s love would be in us and that he would be in us. This is possible because we know his father’s love for us and we know him. We’ve experienced his father’s love in our hearts and our lives. We have a close, intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior. This is not a mystical, subjective experience. It’s based upon the inspired testimony of eyewitnesses, the very ones who were with Jesus throughout his ministry on the earth.

I want to read to you 1 John 1:1-3, where the apostle John tells us just how real this is. He says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled concerning the word of life. The life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us. That which we’ve seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”

John says Jesus is real. We saw him. We were with him. We handled him. His presence in our lives is real. He promises to always be with us, Matthew 28:20.

“He’ll not leave nor forsake us, so that we need not fear,” Hebrews 13:5-6.

Yes, the love of his father in our hearts is also just as real. It’s as real as Jesus was in the flesh. It’s as real as Jesus’ death upon the cross. How blessed we are as Christians to be the subject of the Lord’s prayer as John recorded it here in John 17.

The church Christ prayed for to be kept from the world, to be set apart unto God, united as one, to be with Christ forever, to have the father’s love and Christ living in them, I wonder this morning, are you a part of that church for which Christ prayed?

Do you need to be baptized into Christ and his church for salvation in obedience to the gospel of Christ?

You can be washed, you can be cleansed by that powerful message. Do you need to be restored to Christ and his church?

Do you need the prayers of God’s people? Whatever your need, I hope that you’ll let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven today.

SINGING>> As the deer panteth for the water,
so my soul longeth after thee.
You alone are my heart’s desire,
and I long to worship thee.
You alone are my strength,
my shield, to you alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire,
and I long to worship thee.
You’re my friend and you are my brother,
even though you are a king.
I love you more than any other,
so much more than anything.
You alone are my strength,
my shield;
to you alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire,
and I long to worship thee.

SINGING>> All to Jesus I surrender,
all to him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust him,
in his presence daily live.
I surrender all.
I surrender all.
All to thee, my blessed savior,
I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender.
Lord, I give myself to thee.
Fill me with thy love and power,
letthy blessing fall on me.
I surrender all.
I surrender all.
All to thee, my blessed savior, I surrender all.

ROBERT >> I want to thank you for watching our program today, and we would really like to hear from you. If you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you would like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.

You may e-mail us at

Or call our toll-free number, 800-819-2966.

And also, please visit our web site,

All our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We want to thank the many churches of Christ who help support this program and encourage you to visit one of them in your area very soon. Their names will be scrolled on the screen at the end of our program. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.

SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven,
sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so.
Showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.

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