Hello, I’m Brannon Howse, and welcome to the Worldview Weekend Hour. Tonight I want to speak to you on Twisted Scripture Number 43. Twisted Scripture Number 43. Now, if you remember, we went through 42 twisted Scriptures in our last series that became this book Twisted Scripture, Twisted Theology. We looked at 42 verses that are commonly twisted, and we untwisted them. I showed you how people twist them, how they take those verses out of context, and then we used the proper tools for understanding how they are to be understood biblically in context. And so, I want to pick up with Twisted Scripture Number 43.
Now, if you’d like to get a hold of Twisted Scripture, Twisted Theology Volume 1, you can do that by simply going to our bookstore at worldviewweekend.com/bookstore and order a copy. It’s 224 pages, and you can get a copy at worldviewweekend.com/bookstore. It’s also an e-book automatically if you join the Situation Room. It’s already in the Situation Room as part of your membership at situationroom.net. Situationroom.net.
So, tonight, Twisted Scripture Number 43, which happens to be the verse John 17:21. Now, this verse is used out of context all the time by a lot of people pushing ecumenicalism. This is a favorite verse of those pushing ecumenicalism. I want to show you some video clips to prove to you that people use John 17:21 out of context to say that the Catholic Church and the Protestants must come together as one. And they will quote John 17:21 that reads – the prayer of Jesus, “– 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.”
So, this is the prayer of Jesus, John Chapter 17 verse 1 through about 23-24 there. And I want to look at that with you tonight. But understand that John 17:21 is often used, “– that we may be as one.”
“The prayer of Jesus is that we be as one,” that’s what the ecumenicalists will say, when talking about Protestants and Catholics. Now, I’ll prove that point to you by showing you some video clips, and then we’re going to look at the full prayer of Jesus in context. We’re going to break it down, starting with John 17:1. And we’re going to break it down, and I’m going to explain to you why Jesus is not praying for Protestants, true believers, Christians to become one with the Church of Rome, to enter into a spiritual enterprise with the Church of Rome. That would contradict Scripture, and I’m going to prove that to you tonight.
You want to know what the real Lord’s Prayer is? This would be it, John Chapter 17, starting at verse 1. Now, many people refer to the Lord’s Prayer that we so commonly know, Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” And then it goes on to talk about, “Forgive us our debts,” or our trespasses, “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” That is not the prayer of Jesus. Jesus does not have to pray, “Forgive us our debts,” or, “our trespasses.” Jesus doesn’t pray that. Okay? That is the Prayer of the Disciples. It really shouldn’t be called the Lord’s Prayer; it should be called the Prayer of the Disciples – Jesus teaching His disciples how to pray; Jesus teaching us how to pray. Those of us who are believers are to be His disciples. Right? Jesus said, “If you want to be one of My disciples, you must” – what? – “pick up your cross and follow Me.” Die to yourself. Christians are to be followers of Christ; they’re to be His disciples. And so, that is a prayer of the disciples; it’s not really the Lord’s Prayer.
The real Lord’s Prayer, I believe, would be John Chapter 17, starting at verse 1. This is the real prayer of the Lord, and we’re going to look at that tonight. But it is not a prayer of the Lord calling for or desiring for ecumenicalism, all the world’s religions to become as one, the Church of Rome and Christians to unite. That’s not what Jesus is praying for.
Now, to show you that there are indeed those that take this Scripture out of context, and they twist it and end up with bad theology, I want to show you some video clips to prove that. The first one is James Robison. I’ve perhaps played this for you in other broadcasts, but let me play it here as well, please. James Robison is talking to a Catholic priest, Jonathan Morris. Sometimes you see Jonathan Morris on Fox News channel. And he says here that this is the prayer of Jesus that we become one. And he says to Jonathan Morris – Father Jonathan Morris, Catholic priest – that he believes that the prayer of Jesus is being answered, because he, a Protestant, is sitting there talking to this Catholic priest, and they’re agreeing, and they’re having communion with each other, and that they are fellowshipping, and they’re saying they agree on some doctrines. And James Robison is so excited about this and says that what is taking place right there in his TV studio is the beginning of Jesus’ prayer being answered. And he’s got to be referring to John 17, because he’s basically quoting it. Watch this clip.
James Robison: I am telling you that I believe that I’m going to get to see and be a part of Jesus’ prayer for us to have a oneness with the Father and to see a perfected – perfectedness and perfection coming from a supernatural unity and the world know we’re His disciples because of our love. That, I think, I’m gonna get to see that. And just knowing that –
All right, this next clip is James Robison’s wife, and she talks about how she believes God is happy when His children get together and fellowship. Let me just make something very clear. There are only two camps: the camp of God, and the camp of Satan. Jesus, in John 8, made it very clear there are only two camps: the camp of God, and the camp of Satan. John Chapter 8, Jesus made that very clear. There are only two camps. And so, when the wife of James Robison says that she believes that God’s very happy when His children get together, this is implying that really we’re all God’s children. We’re all God’s children. If you believe in Jesus, if you believe in a few Christian doctrines, then we’re all Christians; we’re all children of God.
You know, there’s a lot of people that say if you just believe the Apostles’ Creed, you’re a Christian. No. The Apostles’ Creed does not give a clear understanding or definition or explanation of what is the Gospel. The Catholic Church would say they agree with the Apostles’ Creed, and yet they believe the pope is above the Word of God, tradition is above the Word of God – the tradition of the Catholic Church. They would believe that the pope has the right to alter Scripture. They would say that salvation comes also, in part, through Mary. But they say they believe the Apostles’ Creed. And so, there are those who say, “Well, if you believe the Apostles’ Creed, then we’re all Christians; we’re all children of God.” Wrong, wrong. The Apostles’ Creed does not give a clear understanding or explanation or defense of the Gospel.
But here is James Robison’s wife saying that God is happy when His children are getting together. But we’re not all God’s children. Just because you claim a few beliefs doesn’t mean you really are yielding your life to Christ; have repented of your sins; understand who you are, what you are, and what you deserve. It doesn’t meant that you are following the Jesus of the Bible. A lot of people say they believe in Jesus. In fact, the Bible even says that demons believe in Jesus and tremble. The demons believe in Jesus and tremble. So, it’s not enough just to believe in Jesus. In fact, in this day and age, you have to ask the question, “Which Jesus?” Are we talking about the Jesus of the Bible, or the Jesus of the Church of Rome that’s offered up in communion and slaughtered over and over in their mass, their communion service, known as transubstantiation, which we’ve explained many times here before? So, it’s a different Jesus. Jesus is not being slaughtered over and over and over. That’s not the Jesus of the Bible.
So, the Church of Rome, as we’ve explained before, has a different Jesus. We’ve explained that the Word of Faith has a different Jesus. Right? They believe Jesus came to Earth as a man, later became God. That’s a different Jesus. The Mormons have a different Jesus. They believe Jesus is the brother of Lucifer. So, just because someone says they believe in Jesus doesn’t make them a Christian. So, we have to ask specifically today, “What do you mean by Jesus? Who do you say that Jesus is?” And so, just because someone says they believe in a few Christian terms, “Oh, I believe in Jesus,” or, “I believe the Apostles’ Creed,” that doesn’t mean they’re a Christian. And yet, here’s James Robison’s wife saying God’s happy when His children have fellowship, when His children get together.
Well, the problem is, there are many who claim to be believers that are not. In fact, Jesus says in – we read in Matthew Chapter 7 where the Lord will say to them, “Depart from Me. I never knew you, you worker of iniquity.”
And these false teachers that are being cast out into darkness, where there’s the gnashing of teeth, as described in Matthew 7, these false teachers will be saying, “But, Lord, didn’t we cast out demons in Your name, and prophesy in Your name, and testify in Your name?”
And He will say, “Depart from me. I never knew you, you worker of iniquity,” or you worker of lawlessness, religious people as the world would define. They were religious; they were spiritual.
So, this is James Robison’s wife. And then James Robison himself goes on to say that, again, he believes that Jesus has just turned to His Father in Heaven and said, “My prayers are getting answered.” Again, he has to be referring, I believe, to the prayer of the Lord that we find in John 17. So, notice again, they seem to keep using John 17 to say that they all may be one, John 17:21, the prayer of Jesus, that they all may be one, is somehow referring to Christians/Protestants uniting with Catholics. That’s not the prayer of Jesus. I’ll explain that in just a minute. Watch this clip.
Betty Robison: But I believe God is happy when He sees His children fellowshipping together and getting along together.
Male: Gosh, rejoicing in Heaven, right?
Betty Robison: Yeah, amen.
James Robison: He does. I believe angels rejoice. I believe the Father rejoices. I know Jesus, who’s daily making intercession for us, I believe He’s turned to His Father and said, “Father, My prayers are getting answered. We’re getting together.” Don’t you like what you’re seeing? Don’t you know God likes us to come together?
All right. No, Jesus is not in Heaven turning to His Father saying, “My prayer is about to be answered,” because that was not the prayer of Jesus in John 17. Now, before I explain that, watch this clip. This is Rick Warren on EWTN. I showed you a portion of this in one of our other broadcasts of a week or so ago. But watch this specific clip, because this is Rick Warren on EWTN, this is the Catholic worldwide network, television network, and the host of this broadcast – you have to really pay attention, because it goes fast, and Rick Warren’s kinda talking over the top of him at one point, but the host on EWTN, this Catholic television network, is going to ask Rick Warren, “What do you think is the obstacle that is keeping Christians from the unity that Jesus prayed for?” Notice again this host on EWTN is going to ask Rick Warren, “What do you think is the obstacle that is keeping Christians from accomplishing the goal of the prayer of Jesus that we are one?” Listen to how Rick Warren responds to that. Watch this clip.
Host: But what is the obstacle, do you think, keeping Christians apart and away from that unity that Christ prayed for, that John Paul II was such a – well, all the recent popes have –
Rick Warren: Absolutely, every one of ’em.
Host: – done this outreach –
Rick Warren: Every one of ’em.
Host: – “You need to be one”?
Rick Warren: Exactly.
Host: What is keeping these communities apart, and what do you think is bringing them together?
Rick Warren: Well, I think we need to go back to the words of Saint Augustine, you know, in the essentials, you know, we have unity. In the nonessentials we have liberty –
Host: Mostly, yeah.
Rick Warren: – and in all things we show charity. And I think this is really true. Now, I think, as the world becomes increasingly – particularly the Western culture – more secular, more anti-Christian, we’re seeing, for instance, religious liberties being threatened and things like that, it is really incumbent of all Christians of every brand and stripe, that we join together on the things that we share in common. And when I say, “Do you believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?”
“Do you believe Jesus Christ rose?”
“Do you believe He died on the cross?”
“Do you believe in Hell and Heaven?”
“Do you believe the Bible’s God’s Word?”
Then we’re on the same team. We might not agree on all of the minors, but we are Christians. And here’s the thing: people don’t realize how big the Church really is. It’s the largest organization on planet Earth. We don’t have anything to apologize for. There’s 600 million Buddhists in the world. There are 800 million Hindus in the world. There are about 1.5 billion Muslims, but there are 2.3 billion Christians who would say, “I believe Jesus is who He claimed to be, the Son of God.” That means one out of every three people on this planet.
The Jesus of the Church of Rome, the gospel of the Church of Rome is not the biblical Jesus and biblical gospel, but yet here is Rick Warren saying that there are 2.3 billion Christians in the world. Clearly he’s including Catholics in that. Now, the question by the host on this Catholic network, EWTN, was, “What is the obstacle that’s keeping Christians from the unity Jesus prayed for?” Rick Warren doesn’t say, “Hey, wait a minute now, Jesus in John 17 was not praying for believers/Christians to unite with the false religious system of the Church of Rome.” He doesn’t say that, and if he had, I don’t think they would have broadcast the interview, do you? No, to the contrary, what Rick does is includes the Catholics, I believe – that’s how he got that 2.3 billion figure of Christians in the world – and says that the Church is much larger than we know that it is. The Church is much larger than we may know.
May I tell you, my friends, I believe the Church is much smaller than we realize? The Church is much smaller than we realize, not much larger. In fact, Jesus Himself said, “Narrow is the way and few who find it, but broad is the path to destruction.” There is a little remnant that God has, throughout the world, and it is just that: a little remnant, a faithful group of believers that make up the New Testament Church. The Church is not 2.3 billion people today, because again, you would have to include the 1.2 billion Catholics to get to that figure. But again, I want the main point to be here is that the host on EWTN wanted to know, “What is the obstacle keeping Christians from the unity Jesus prayed for.” Again, he has to be referring to the prayer of Jesus in John 17, which all the ecumentalists use to say Jesus is praying for us all to come together. That’s not what Jesus is praying for. I’ll explain that after this last clip.
This last clip is Tony Palmer. Now, many of you will remember that Tony Palmer is the Anglican bishop that went and spoke for Kenneth Copeland’s conference, not too long ago, and brought a video of Pope Francis praying and asking for Charismatics to come join the Catholic Church in unity once again. He, the pope, Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, said that we have been like family living in a neighborhood that has been divided, and now we need to all come back together. So, he’s asking the Charismatics, the Word of Faithers, to come and unite once again with the Church of Rome. And Kenneth Copeland was quite excited about this video, played it at his Ministers Conference. It was set up by Tony Palmer, who’s close friends and been mentored by Pope Francis even before he was pope, and then Kenneth Copeland recorded a video back to Pope Francis, affirming this call for unity.
Now, we’ve done four programs on that, and again, you’ll find those in the Situation Room, it’s situationroom.net, as well. But I just set that up real quick because here is a short video clip of Tony Palmer at that Kenneth Copeland conference, using John 17 out of context and as the basis for saying, “You see, the Lord would have us all come together, Protestants and Catholics coming together as one, as He prayed in John 17.” That’s not what Jesus is praying in John 17. I’ll tell you what He was praying after this clip. Watch this.
Tony Palmer: This is a dying man’s prayer. And when you know you’re about to die, you certainly pray the most important prayers. He said, “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 may also be one in Us.”
All right, so, I’ve shown you now several examples of people using John Chapter 17 out of context. Right? I like to use these video clips so you can see, with your own eyes, and hear with your own ears, that indeed people do twist these Scriptures as I tell you they do. And now, let’s untwist this passage, John 17:21. Again, the passage is this, “That they all may be one,” Jesus praying, “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.”
Now, that’s the verse they use out of context. But to get the full context, we need to back up. That’s one of the things we learned in our last series. Right? You need to read the verses before, and you need to read the verses after – who wrote it; who is he writing to; what is the context; what is going on historically; culturally? – to get an understanding of what the text means.
Well, let’s go back to verse 1 of John Chapter 17. Christ is praying. This is literally just hours before Christ is to be crucified, and Christ is praying, and He starts out praying for His disciples. But we’re also going to see that eventually He ends up praying for every believer from that point on that will ever claim the name of Christ, name the name of Christ, and repent of their sins and place their faith and trust in Christ alone. So, in reality, my friends, Christ, in this text, John 17, is praying for you, if you are a believer. He was praying for me. That should encourage you. I’m going to explain that to you in greater detail in just a minute.
But here we are, John 17:1, Jesus praying hours before His crucifixion. Let’s get the context, verse 1:
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. All Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 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 be referring to Judas] 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. 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 have 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.
“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, that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
Now, my friends, we need to understand that not only is John 17, and specifically verse 21, used out of context, where it speaks about that they may be one, we also have John 10:16 that’s used out of context. Let me give you this verse, and then we’re going to break down John 17. But John 10:16 is often used, too, out of context. John 10:16 reads, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold.” And you see the ecumentalists will say, “You see, that’s the Catholic Church. There’s the Protestants, and then there’s the Catholic Church, and Jesus in John 10:16 is saying, ‘Hey, and other sheep I have which are not of this fold,’ but He wants them all to be one.”
And the verse goes on, “– them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one Shepherd.” Now, folks, John 10:16 is not speaking of two folds, Protestants and Catholics. No, what is being spoken of here, when it says, “– and other sheep I have which are not of this fold,” it is speaking of the Jews and the Gentiles, or the Jews and the Greeks. We see this same thing in Romans 1:16 which reads, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ,” Paul writing here, “for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, and also for the Greek,” or, “for the Gentile.” See, that is that other fold. And God desired for there to be one Church, not two churches; not Jews and Greeks, but one Church. But this is what John 10:16 is referring to. It is not referring to Protestants and Catholics; it’s referring to the Jews and the Greeks.
Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Now, this is not promoting the idea of gender neutrality, but it’s simply saying, “We are all one in Christ. In Christ there is not male and female, Jew or Greek; we are all one in Christ. Christ died for all of us. We are all the same in that he loves us and died for us, and the us being those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. That’s what it’s saying. It’s not talking about, as we go back to John 10:16, that’s not talking about a Protestant fold and Catholic fold and they all need to get together. So, people use this out of context as well.
Now, what is going on in John 17? So, let’s break it down. I oftentimes like to take, as I’ve told you before, my little red notebook here, and if I’m studying a passage of Scripture, I like to write down an outline of the text that I’m studying to help me have an understanding of what’s being said. And so, I’ve done that for you with graphics tonight, which I hope will help you understand the real context of what’s happening here in John 17, the real Lord’s Prayer, which is not ecumenicalism; it’s Jesus praying for His disciples, and Jesus praying for all the believers down through the ages from that point on.
Look at verse 2. Jesus, in verse 2, is affirming that He is the one that grants eternal life. In verse 2, Jesus is affirming that He is the one that grants eternal life. In verse 6, Jesus affirms that God gave Him His disciples that become the Apostles. Now remember, there are only 12 Apostles, Paul being a 13th Apostle, if you will, or a special Apostle, but there is the original 12 – right? – and Paul being a special Apostle.
How did you become an Apostle? How did “they” become an Apostle, I should say? They had to be called of God, and they had to see the risen Lord. We don’t have any more Apostles today. We don’t need them. We have the Word of God. We’ve done whole programs on that as well, and I go into that in great detail in my book Religious Trojan Horse. We have little apostles, as in little a apostles: missionaries, messengers are “sent ones,” but we don’t have big A apostles, people who are doing signs and wonders and receiving extra-biblical revelation. We don’t need those anymore. The foundation of the Church has been laid down, as we see in Ephesians. Signs and wonders were to give credibility to the Gospel message and the foundational doctrine they were laying down. In this Church age, we don’t need that to be going on. We don’t need those signs and wonders, and the Word of God is complete, once for all delivered to the saints.
So, Jesus, in verse 6, is praying for His disciples who become His Apostles, and the Holy Spirit moves on them. Jesus said, “I must go so the Comforter can come.” So, after His resurrection, Jesus walked and talked and fellowshipped with His Apostles for a period of time, and then He ascended into Heaven. And He said He must go so the Comforter can come. And that Holy Spirit came, and it moved on the Apostles, and the Word of God is God-breathed, or inspired by the Holy Spirit. So, God moved men as they wrote His Word.
And so Jesus, in verse 6, is affirming that God gave Him His disciples that became or will become the Apostles. Verse 9, Jesus declares that He prays for His disciples and not the world or unsaved. This is very key. Jesus makes it very clear in verse 9 of John 17 that He is not praying for the world. He’s not praying for the unsaved. We know right away then that Jesus is not praying for the Church of Rome and true believers to become one, because He tells us right here in verse 9 that He is not praying for the unsaved. And those who follow the Jesus of the Church of Rome, the gospel of the Church of Rome, they are not His children any more than those who follow the Jesus and gospel of Mormonism, or those that follow the Jesus and gospel of the Word of Faith are not saved. They have a different Jesus; they have a different gospel. But Jesus makes it very clear in this, the Lord’s Prayer, the real Lord’s Prayer in John 17, He makes it very clear in verse 9 that He’s not praying for the unsaved; He’s not praying for the world.
In verse 11, it becomes very clear that Jesus is praying again for His disciples that will be left in the world when He’s gone. Verse 12 through 15, Jesus prays for the spiritual protection of His disciples from the evil one or from Satan. In verses 17 to 19, Jesus prays that His disciples will be set apart for God’s purpose. He prays that they will be sanctified. And that’s what sanctified means, set apart for God’s purpose. You and I, as believers, are sanctified. We are justified when we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are justified; our sin debt is canceled out; our debt is paid in full. That’s what Christ said, “It is finished,” debt paid in full on the cross. And those of us who have repented of our sins and placed our faith and trust in Christ, we are justified immediately. Our sin debt is cancelled out, and our sins are separated as far as the East is from the West; they are buried in the depths of the sea, to be remembered no more – justification.
And then that sanctification process begins. We are to be set apart for God’s purpose. Sanctification, ongoing faithfulness and obedience. As we study God’s Word, the Holy Spirit who now indwells believers, illuminates the Word of God, helps us to understand the Word of God so that we might walk in faithfulness and obedience, and so that we might be sanctified and continue the sanctification process set apart for God’s purpose. Well, that’s what Jesus is praying here in John 17:17-19. Jesus is praying that His disciples will be set apart for God’s purpose. And indeed, were they not set apart for God’s purpose? Were these disciples who become the Apostles not given a very, very special task for which they were set apart? Indeed they were. And you and I today are still the recipients of their ministry as they were empowered by the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Spirit moved upon them, and they wrote the Word of God by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. And you and I, to this day, still benefit from the ministry of the Apostles, who were set apart by God for a specific purpose, and that was this laying down of the foundational doctrine of the Church and the writing of the New Testament.
So, we see that in verse 20, Jesus now begins to change directions in who He’s praying for. Up to this point, He’s really been praying primarily for the disciples. But in verse 20, things begin to change in His prayers in that He’s now praying not just for the disciples, not just for those men who become the Apostles, the disciples became the Apostles, but He’s now praying for you, and He’s praying for me, if you’re a believer. If you’re a believer, you need to know that hours before His death, Jesus prayed for you. So, Jesus is now praying for you, and for me, and all those that will become believers through the ministry of the Apostles. And indeed, if you have become a believer, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have placed your faith and trust in Christ, repented of your sins, made Him your Lord and your Savior, then you have heard the good news of the Gospel as a result of the ministry of the Apostles. And again, as I said awhile ago, their ministry goes forth and continues to do this day.
Think about that for a minute. Just hours before going to the cross, Jesus was praying for you. If you’re a believer tonight, He was praying for you. He was praying for me. That’s very clear in the text. And in fact, you would say, “But wait a minute, Howse, are you telling me Jesus knew that I was going to be born? Jesus knew that I would be one of His children? He knew that I would come to a place of understanding the Gospel and understand my depravity, my sinfulness? He knew that I would come to a place of understanding that I deserve God’s wrath? That, yes, I’ve told a lie, and if I look at someone with lust, it’s equal to adultery? And if I have hatred towards someone, it’s equal to murder? He knew that I would come to the realization, through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, that I deserve the wrath of God, and that I would repent of my sins through the power of the Holy Spirit, and that I would, as 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 says, have godly sorrow that produces repentance unto salvation? He knew, as He prayed this prayer, that I would become one of His?”
Oh, He knew long before that. He knew long before John 17 you would end up being His. In fact, Ephesians 1:4-5 says, “Just as He chose us in Him before” – what? – “before the foundation of the world.” Before the foundation of the world. Long before John Chapter 17, the prayer of our Lord, hours before His death, long before that He was very aware of who would be His, and who was His and is His. That’s a humbling thought, but that’s exactly what we read in Ephesians 1:4-5, “– just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”
We see this in Revelation 13:8, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” From the foundation of the world. That’s right what we see there, isn’t it? In the Scripture, both in Ephesians and in Revelation, “– just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.”
You say, “Well, wait a minute, Howse, are you teaching predestination here?” Nah, I don’t have to teach it; it’s right there in God’s Word, but yes, I’m teaching what God’s Word teaches, and that is He foreknew, He predestined who would follow Him. He foreknew who would be His. You see, I get e-mails from people all the time saying, “Howse, do you believe in election? Howse, do you believe in predestination?” And they act as though it’s a bad thing.
I’m like, “Well, it’s all over the Scriptures. It’s all throughout, “– that God may grant them repentance.” “All that the Father gives to me, none will I turn away.” It’s all through the Scripture: election, predestination. But yet we also see this, don’t we, “Come, come.” “All ye who are weary and heavy laden, come and I will give you rest.” We’ve talked about it in past programs. We see election, predestination, and we see man’s responsibility. They’re both there. They’re both there. It’s a seeming paradox, but they are both there. I don’t have time to argue, nor do I desire to argue with people that want to argue one over the other. They’re both there.
I’ve given you this illustration before, but let me give it again because it’s appropriate, and we always have people watching certain broadcasts; they don’t catch other broadcasts. We always have people who are new and watching for the first time, so it’s okay at times and appropriate at times to repeat myself, and so, let me do that here.
I like what John MacArthur says on this topic. Was Jesus 100 percent man? Yes. Was he 100 percent God? Yes. How can you be 200 percent of something? You can’t. But yet He was 100 percent God and 100 percent man. Now, that seems like a contradiction, right? Well, in our human mind it does. That is a seeming paradox. But there is truth in that. God’s Word says it; I believe it. Do I fully understand it in my human mind? No, but it’s there.
Here’s another one. John MacArthur gives this one. Who wrote the book of Romans? Paul wrote the book of Romans. Or did God write the book of Romans? They’re both true. Paul wrote the book of Romans as God the Holy Spirit moved upon him. They’re both true.
Here’s another one. Who lives your Christian life? Do you live your Christian life? Paul says, “I buffet my body. I buffet my body. I bring my body into subjection. I buffet my body.” But yet we also read in the Scriptures, “It’s not I that lives, but Christ who lives in me.” Not I, but Christ who lives in me. Which one is it? They’re both true. Now again, these are a seeming paradox, but they’re both true. And what we need to understand, when it comes to this issue of man’s responsibility and predestination or election, that this is what is known as the doctrine of concurrence. The doctrine of concurrence. And we did a whole program on this, and again, it’s in the Situation Room if you want to go back and watch it. About a four-part series I did on the sovereign providence and will of God. The sovereign providence and will of God. And one program was on that doctrinal issue of the doctrine of concurrence, something that most believers have never heard of, most pastors don’t even know what it is, and certainly most pastors don’t teach it – a few. The doctrine of concurrence. It’s like two streams that flow separately and then come together. I live in Memphis, Tennessee, now, and the Mississippi River runs right through here. But if you go up North, to Minneapolis, St. Paul, right there on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and you go over the interstate there, Interstate 94, you will have what? You will have the St. Croix River. And the St. Croix River runs right there, in between Wisconsin and Minnesota, as you head towards the Twin Cities, or as you’re heading from the Twin Cities over to Madison, or over to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, depending on which direction you’re going. You have that St. Croix River, though, running between those two states.
But eventually, that St. Croix River dumps or merges or converges with the Mississippi River, and it comes on down here to Tennessee. And the Mississippi River runs right here through Memphis. And so, these two streams, the St. Croix River and the Mississippi River, run together and become one. Two streams becoming one – concurrence. The doctrine of concurrence. That’s what’s going on with this issue of God’s sovereign predestination, election, and man’s responsibility. Jesus says, “Come, come.” Man’s responsibility. “Come, all you who are weary and heavy laden, come. Come to Me. All you who are weary and heavy laden, come, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you.” And then yet we see, “All that the Father gives to me, none will I turn away.” They’re both there. Two streams and they run together as one: the doctrine of concurrence.
So, people e-mail me and they want to say, “Howse, you don’t really believe in predestination or election do you? Please tell me that’s not true.” As though if you do believe that, you’re somehow teaching a different Gospel; that you’re now teaching some kind of works base. No, salvation is a work of God; it cannot be a work of man anyway. Ephesians makes that clear, “It is the work of God, lest any man should boast.”
But I ask these people, “Do you believe in God’s Word?”
“Oh, yes, I believe in God’s Word.”
“Do you believe it in context from cover to cover?”
“Oh, yes, I believe God’s Word.”
“But then yet you ask me do I believe in predestination or election. Do you believe in predestination or election?”
“Well, then yet you told me you just believe in God’s Word.”
“Yeah, but I don’t believe in predestination or election.”
Folks, it’s right here in God’s Word. They’re both here. And yet, the mistake people make is the Armenians want to argue one side, and then some maybe hyper-Calvinists want to argue only one side. They’re both there, the doctrine of concurrence. We don’t fully understand it in our human mind, but they’re both there.
So, we see clearly in the Scripture that we have been predestined since before the foundation of the Earth. Ephesians 1:4-5 makes that very clear. Revelation 13:8 and other places make that very clear. So, long before John 17 – that’s the point we’re making here – long before John 17, Jesus knew who would receive grace and mercy; who would, by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, come to understand who they are, what they are, what they deserve, and repent of their sins and become His. They really are His already; we’re just waiting for them to come. That’s why it’s so important to preach the Gospel.
God already knows whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life; they are His; they just have not come to that point of faith and repentance yet, but He already knows who they are. They’re still in the wrong camp, but God knows who they are. And that’s why it’s so important that we are just faithful to preach the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit do what the Holy Spirit does, which is open their eyes to understand their sinfulness so that they might have godly sorrow that produces repentance unto salvation. So, yes indeed, God knew before the foundation of the world who would receive Him. So, why should we be shocked hours before His death Jesus is praying for all of those, from that point on, who would become believers? And that’s exactly what Jesus is doing. He’s praying for those who would become believers, right there in verse 20. He’s praying for you, for me, all those who become believers through the ministry of the Apostles.
Now, you say, “That’s just amazing.” But again, we serve a God who is all-knowing, who created all that there is in this universe, from the complexity of the cell and the DNA, He created it all, and he sustains it by the power of His Word the Scriptures say. Do you doubt that the Lord God Almighty – and He was fully God and fully man – Immanuel, God With Us – do you doubt that He could be praying and not know your name?
If, indeed, He knows your name, as the Scripture says, and your name has been chosen, and you’ve been chosen since before the foundation of the Earth, are you telling me that same God incarnate could not, with the power of His mind and brain, understand who He was praying for specifically – the believers, you and me specifically – and know us? Of course, because Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin, and not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will? But the very hairs of your head are numbered. Do not fear, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.” In other words, God knows when a sparrow falls. God is so sovereign and involved in His total rule and His providence, dealing with the affairs of man, that He even knows the number of hairs on your head. So, you’re telling me that He can be praying and not be thinking of you and me? I believe indeed He could, and I believe He did. I don’t know about you, but that is very humbling.
Verse 21, Jesus prays for the unity of all believers. That’s what Jesus is praying for here. He’s gone from praying for the disciples, who are to become His Apostles, and the ministry they will have through the Word that the Holy Spirit will use them to write, that will be the Gospel that goes throughout all the world. And the fruit of their ministry continues to this day. And He’s praying for them and all those who will hear the Gospel through their ministry.
And then He switches, in verse 20 to praying for you and for me, and now in verse 21 He prays for the unity of all believers. Remember, He’s already told us, “I am not praying for the world or unbelievers; I’m praying for believers.” Verse 22, Jesus prays that His Church – His Church, His Bride, true believers – will be united through the Holy Spirit. You see, Jesus knew that when He left, the Comforter was to come, and that is what created the Church. Please understand what I just told you. The Church began on the Day of Pentecost. We read about this in Acts. And when the Holy Spirit came, the Church was born, and this Church Age will run until the rapture, if you believe in that kind of eschatology. We are now in the Church Age, and Jesus is praying for the day that His Holy Spirit will come and will indwell believers, and then all believers will be united together through the Holy Spirit.
We read this in Ephesians 4:3-6, “– endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body,” there’s one Church, folks. One Church. There isn’t a church for the Jew that’s become a believer. There’s not a church for the Gentile who’s become a believer. There’s not a church for the white guy. There’s not to be a church for the black guy. There’s not to be a church for the Native American. There’s not to be a church for the Asian. There is to be one Church, one Bride, one Spirit that unites us all.
Acts makes it very clear there are not multiple races; there’s only one race, the human race. But to be more specific, there are two: the saved race and the unsaved race. And Ephesians 4:3-6 makes it clear there is one body or one Church, and we’re united by that one Spirit of Jesus Christ, “–just as you were called in one hope,” one hope, the glorious hope of the Gospel, redemption through Christ alone, “one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith,” one faith. And we read that in Jude 3, don’t we? “Contend earnestly for the faith.” The faith. “Contend earnestly for the faith.” There was once for all – once for all delivered to the saints. We see that same thing here in Ephesians 4: one faith.
There’s one Church, folks, one baptism. Now, this one baptism could be referring to the baptism, the physical water baptism that people go, out of obedience, and take part in after being saved. It also probably is referring to the spiritual baptism, because it is that spiritual baptism into Jesus Christ that we also share in common through the Spirit we share. That’s what Romans 6 and Romans 8 talks about – right? Romans 6 specifically:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into His death are therefore buried with Him through baptism into death, that as Christ was raised up from the death by the glory of the Father, even so shall we also walk in newness of life.
That’s spiritual baptism that we have. So, one baptism. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism. And that’s who Jesus is praying for here in verse 22 of John 17.
1 Corinthians 6:17 says, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” One Spirit. We’re one Church. There’s not multiple churches; there’s one Church, and that’s who He’s praying for. He wasn’t praying for the unsaved. He wasn’t praying for, “Oh, we have the Protestant church over here; we have the Catholic church over there,” because again, Jesus would not pray for the merging of truth and error, light and darkness. He would not pray for a merging of those who follow God and those who follow Belial or Satan. We see that in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17.
Look at 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,” again that’s spiritual baptism into the family of God, “whether Jews or Greeks,” see, we’re not going to be dividing them up by their nationality, “whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” We’re united through the one Holy Spirit, and that’s who Jesus is praying for.
We see again in Philippians 1:27, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs,” this is Paul writing while he’s in prison, “that you stand fast,” that’s a military term, “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind,” in other words, be of one mind, don’t be selfish, don’t be splintered, don’t be thinking of yourself or your own objectives and goals; be of one mind, serving together the Lord for a common cause, the Gospel; be of one mind, “striving together for the faith of the gospel.” My friends, there’s no way that Jesus, the real Lord’s Prayer, John 17, there’s no way Jesus was praying for the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church to unite, because that would go against Scripture. And one of our rules that we have learned in our series “Twisted Scripture, Twisted Theology” – and again, you can get the book, Volume 1, Twisted Scripture, Twisted Theology in our bookstore at worldviewweekend.com/bookstore – but one of the things we learned in this book, and one of the things we learned in our original television series that kicked this all off was that Scripture cannot contradict Scripture. Right?
Scripture confirms Scripture. And there’s no way that the Lord’s Prayer, as I call it, the real Lord’s Prayer of John 17, could be that of Jesus praying for the Protestant Church and the Catholic Church to unite, believers uniting with a false religious system that was really this mother – comes from this mother/child cult birthed at the Tower of Babel. That’s kind of where it all started, the Babylonian paganism that eventually mixed with Christianity around 320 A.D. There’s no way that Jesus will be praying for Christians to unite with that system. Because in fact, I believe the Scripture tells us to come out of that system.
And Jesus tells us several places – or God tells us several places in His Word not to be involved in spiritual enterprises with unbelievers. Just as we see in 2 John 1:9-11, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ,” meaning the essential Christian doctrines, “does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him,” this is the time when false teachers would travel around from house to house and stay in people’s homes in order to gain credibility because the hotels were seen as dangerous places. The motels/hotels were dangerous places. They were often houses of ill repute, and so, a false teacher would like to stay with a prominent family in a community in order to harvest their credibility, to use their credibility. And so, John is telling us here in 2 John don’t enter into a spiritual enterprise with a false teacher, or those who don’t embrace the essential Christian doctrines, nonbelievers. Don’t even greet them. That really means don’t give them a greeting of solidarity. Don’t receive them into your house nor greet them. Don’t give them a greeting of spiritual solidarity, that you’re one with them, “– for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”
We see in Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions,” this is doctoral divisions, folks, “cause divisions and offenses, contrary to doctrine –” Contrary to doctrine. Doctrine means teaching or instruction. So, they cause divisions contrary to biblical teaching and instruction, “– which you learned, and avoid them.” And we learned that from God’s Word. That’s where we learn doctrine, biblical doctrine, teaching instruction. And so, if someone comes and is creating division that is through teaching what is contrary to God’s Word, mark them, note them, and avoid them.
Ephesians 5:11 says, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” And then again, 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial?” Belial is another name for Satan. “Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God,” and we’re now the temple of God, are we not, “what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them; I will walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore, ‘Come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’”
That verse there, “and I will receive you,” is more accurately translated, “and I will bless you,” or, “I will have fellowship with you.” “I will receive you; I will bless you; I will have fellowship with you.” This verse is saying to Christians, to believers, “Don’t unite in spiritual enterprises with unbelievers such as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, the Church of Rome, New Agers. Anybody that is not a believer, you do not enter into a spiritual enterprise with them.”
There are only two camps again: this camp of God, and the camp of Satan or Belial. And what agreement do those have? They don’t have any agreement. And in God’s Word here, 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, God’s Word tells believers, “If you obey Me and don’t enter into spiritual enterprises with unbelievers, I will receive you; I will bless you or I will welcome you. And if you enter into spiritual enterprises with unbelievers, I won’t receive you; I won’t bless you; I won’t welcome you.” You’re going to get God’s punishment, His chastisement, perhaps even His judgment – national judgment.
So, again, there’s no way that the Lord was praying, in John 17, for the Church of Rome, a false religious pagan system, to unite with true believers. Again, in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, we see this, “Come out and be separate. Come out from among them and be separate.” We see this same thing in Revelation 18:4, “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.’” Again, the same thing we see going on in 2 Corinthians 6.
Now, what’s going on in Revelation 18 is telling believers to have nothing to do with the commercial Babylon, Revelation 18, which came about through the religious Babylon, Revelation 17. Revelation 17 is, I believe, that one-world religious system based in Rome, the Catholic Church with all the world’s religions coming together in ecumenicalism. Revelation 17, religious Babylon in Rome, which set up and allowed for commercial Babylon, Revelation 18. And Revelation 18:4 is saying, “Believers, have nothing to do with this. Come out of this, be separate.” Same thing we’re seeing over in 2 Corinthians 6:18. So, there’ no way, folks – there’s no way that Jesus was praying in John 17 for a false pagan religion of the Church of Rome to be merged with His Bride.
People say, “Howse, you’re divisive. Howse, you divide people. We should just all get along. Can’t we just all get along?” We can only have fellowship through biblical truth. People today throw around that term a lot, fellowship, “Let’s have fellowship,” or, “Let’s go to the Fellowship Hall.” And maybe when you were little, like I was, we would go to the Fellowship Hall after a Sunday night service and have a pathetic punch and some bad cookies. Occasionally you’d have something good, but generally the food was not too good. And so, you would go to the Fellowship Hall for fellowship.
Well, real fellowship isn’t had in a Fellowship Hall, per se, around punch and cookies. Real fellowship takes place through the study of God’s Word. And people will say, “Well, let’s just all get along and have fellowship and unity.” You can only have unity and fellowship through agreeing on who is Jesus, what is the Gospel – God’s Word, rightfully dividing the Word of Truth. And Jesus Himself said, “There’s going to be divisions,” and, “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and father his child, and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death, and you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” In other words, he who perseveres.
We see this, too, in Matthew 10:34-36, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth.” Jesus didn’t say, “Hey, I came to Earth to bring unity and peace and fellowship; let’s just all get along.” No, He says, “Don’t think that I came to bring peace on Earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” The sword divides. He says, “For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’”
And then we see in 1 Corinthians 11:19, “There must be factions among you.” There must also be factions among you, even in the Church, what we call the Church today. “There must be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.” And that’s why we’re warned about men who will rise from within, Acts 20:28-31. Jude 3, “Men who have crept in unnoticed.” And there must be factions when we see false teaching, ecumenicalism, another Jesus, another gospel being brought in. There must be those factions to know who’s approved of God. No, we cannot have unity and fellowship with those who serve another Jesus, those who believe in another gospel. “Let them be an anathema,” the Scriptures say.
So, let’s make it very clear. Jesus – the real Lord’s Prayer, John 17, Jesus was not praying just hours before His death for the Church Christians to merge with Catholicism, the Church of Rome. And those who use this verse and these verses in that manner are twisting Scripture, and they have developed an unbiblical theology. But we’ve untwisted it tonight.