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A PLEA FOR UNITY [message #2023] Sat, 25 March 2017 07:33
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A PLEA FOR UNITY




"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee; as Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent. I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. 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" [John 17:1-6].


What a glorious commendation--"They have kept Thy word." To have these words said of us would be a great honor. But too often self comes in; self strives for the mastery.



This was Christ's last prayer with His disciples. It was offered just before He went into the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was to be betrayed and taken. When He reached Gethsemane, He fell prostrate upon the ground, in an agony of distress. What caused His agony? The weight of the sins of the whole world was resting upon His soul. As we study this prayer, let us remember that it was just before this experience and just before His betrayal and trial, that these words were uttered.

In Gethsemane Christ felt that He was being separated from His Father. The gulf was so broad, so black, so deep, that His spirit shuddered before it. This agony He must not exert His divine power to escape. As man He must suffer the consequences of man's sin. As man He must endure the wrath of God.

Behold Him contemplating the price to be paid for the human soul. In His agony He clings to the cold ground, as if to prevent Himself from being drawn farther from God. The chilling dew of night falls upon His prostrate form, but He heeds it not. From His pale lips comes the bitter cry, "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." Yet even now He adds, "Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt."

The human heart longs for sympathy in suffering. This longing Christ felt to the very depths of His being, and He went to the place where He had left His disciples. Had He found them praying, He would have been relieved. But they were asleep. They could give Him no comfort. Once more after this He came to them, but again He found them asleep.

Turning away, Jesus sought His retreat, and fell prostrate, overcome by the horror of a great darkness. The humanity of the Son of God trembled in that trying hour. He prayed not now for His disciples that their faith might not fail, but for His own tempted, agonized soul. The awful moment had come--that moment which was to decide the destiny of the world.

The fate of humanity trembled in the balance. Christ might even now refuse to drink the cup apportioned to guilty men. It was not yet too late. He might wipe the bloody sweat from His brow, and leave man to perish in his iniquity. He might say, Let the transgressor receive the penalty of his sin, and I will go back to My Father.

Will the Son of God drink the bitter cup of humiliation and agony? Will the Innocent suffer the consequences of the curse of sin, to save the guilty? The words fall tremblingly from the pale lips of Jesus, "O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done."

He accepts His baptism of blood, that through Him perishing millions may gain everlasting life. He has left the courts of heaven, where all is purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one world that has fallen by transgression. And He will not turn from His mission. He will become the propitiation of a race that has willed to sin.

Thus the Son of God gave Himself for us "the Sinless for the sinful--that we might not perish. Let us think of the suffering that He endured for us, and as we think of it let us remember that we are to be partakers of this suffering, that we may finally share in His glory. "If any man will come after Me," He says, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."


How much have we suffered for Christ and for our fellow beings? As we have gone from place to place, and have seen the need and the sinfulness of humanity, have we been willing to endure self-denial and privation for others?



Glorified in Us. "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. 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 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. And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them" [verses 5-10].

Do we come short of this? Do we, by refusing to follow Christ in self-denial and sacrifice, fail of glorifying God? Are we willing to lift the cross? Are we willing to die to self, to be crucified with Christ? We must share with the Redeemer in His suffering before we can enter the city of our God.

Sanctified Through the Truth. "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. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name; those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" [verses 11-16].


Christ's followers are not to think they can do just as the world does, following the natural inclinations of the heart, living in selfishness and pride, and yet get to heaven. God wants us to separate from everything that will dishonor His name before the world.



"Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth. As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth" [verses 17-19].

It is the privilege of every soul before me to be sanctified through the truth. This sanctification all must have who enter the abodes of bliss. There are many errors abroad in our world. Satan has come down with great power, and is working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness. But we are not to accept his deceptions. We must be braced in Christ, sanctified through the truth.

The Lord may see that it is necessary to subject us to a refining process, that we may be brought into perfect harmony with Christ. I pray that the hearts of those in attendance at this meeting may be filled with an intense longing for the sanctification of the Spirit, that they may be brought into complete unity with Christ and with one another.

My brethren and sisters, you are soon to go away for the summer's work, some to the ministry, some to teaching, and others to various lines of work. Before you leave this meeting, you should receive the testimony of the Holy Spirit that you have taken hold of the divine power and have made peace with God. Your hearts should be filled with the peace which passeth all understanding.

"That They All May Be One." "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me" [verses 20, 21].

What kind of unity is spoken of in these words? Unity in diversity. Our minds do not all run in the same channel, and we have not all been given the same work. God has given to every man his work according to his several ability. There are different kinds of work to be done, and workers of varied capabilities are needed. If our hearts are humble, if we have learned in the school of Christ to be meek and lowly, we may all press together in the narrow path marked out for us.

God wants us to show an earnest desire to save those that are ready to perish. If there is one who has made mistakes, our hearts should go out to him. We should let him see that we have for him that love which was revealed in the life of Christ. We may think that a brother has done something very wrong. Perhaps he has. But do you think that you will make him see his wrong by shunning his society, by leaving him to himself, where the enemy can work upon his mind and his conscience? We should try to come just as close to him as we can. With all the soul-winning power that God has given us, we must draw him to Christ, remembering that we ourselves have made mistakes. We have all gone out of the way. We have all had our times of trouble, of blindness, of affliction.


There is a power in the truth. There is a power in the love of God that will press back the clouds of darkness, and let the sunlight of God's presence into the heart of the erring.


"And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one" [verse 22]. Think of the possibilities contained in these words. Christ never requires of us more than we can accomplish with the power that He will freely give us. As we go from place to place, shall we not go clothed with the garments of His righteousness? He bids us cherish His pitying tenderness, His love, that every difference, every barrier that separates soul from soul, may be broken down. Let every one plant his feet on the platform of eternal truth, and then ask God to fill his heart with the love which dwelt in the heart of Christ. We cannot afford to place stumbling blocks in the way of anyone. We cannot afford to have placed to our account by the great Judge of all, any occasion of stumbling, over which someone has fallen.


"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" [verse 23].


Can you grasp the thought? The Father loves fallen human beings even as He loves His own Son. He so loves them that He will hold fast to them, even when they are stumbling along in darkness and error. You may say, When my brother, with whom I differed, shall come to such and such a place, then I will take him right to my heart. But perhaps you will have to take him to your heart before He reaches that position.

"Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee; but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them" [verses 24-26].

The Betrayal of Christ. "When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Kedron, where was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed Him, knew the place: for Jesus oftentimes resorted thither with His disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am He. And Judas, which betrayed Him, stood with them. As soon as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground" [John 18:1-6].


What made them fall to the ground? They could not endure the sight of the bright flash of light from the angels of God, who were right on the ground, and they fell prostrate. That ought to have been enough to restrain them, but it was not.


"Then asked He them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am He; if therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled, which He spake, Of them which Thou gavest Me I have lost none" [verses 7-9]. Christ knew how weak His disciples were, and He sought to shield them from temptation and trial. For them He was ready to sacrifice Himself.

I ask you to think of the sufferings of Christ, and remove the differences that you may have with your brethren. This is the message that I have for you today. Remove every difference, that the Holy Spirit may come into your hearts. We do not want anyone to leave our ranks because we have not done all in our power to save him. Oh, what a wonderful work might be accomplished if we would all come into unity.

We are all different in disposition, and we are not to judge one another. If you feel that you have been wronged, go right to the one who has done the wrong, and say, "I want to have everything that separates us removed." Pray with him, saying, "Lord Jesus, make us one with Thee. We want to be partakers with Thee of Thy sufferings and of Thy love. We want to work for the salvation of one another. We want Thy tenderness and Thy pity to fill our hearts, that every barrier may be broken down."

Christ Our Example. When I see what the Saviour has done for us, I feel that I cannot allow any soul to go down while I can do anything to save him. There are those whom Satan is trying to lead out of the way. Let us draw close to them, watching over them faithfully and tenderly, and praying with them earnestly, that every cloud may be swept away. The enemy will seek to come in between us and God.

There are many who need the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. They need sanctified lips and sanctified voices. If you see a brother making a confession, stand right by his side, and encourage him. Let not your face be lighted up with joy because he has been brought to the humiliation of confession. Christ is ashamed of such a spirit.


There is a mighty work to be done. The powers of darkness are being let loose in the world, and we must all stand as one man for the truth, our feet planted firmly on the Eternal Rock, that we may not be moved by the error that is flooding the world.


Even As He Walked. "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked" [1 John 2:1-6].


Brethren, are you walking "even as He walked"? He was full of pity, tenderness, and compassion. [Verses 7-19, quoted.]



We do not want anyone to go out from us if we can do anything in our power to hold them by the hand of faith. Let us work with the power of the living God to keep them with His commandment-keeping people. But in order for us to do this, we must have the sanctification of the Spirit. Let us humble our hearts before God. Let us repent of our sins, and be converted. Do not, I beg of you for Christ's sake, push any soul over the precipice.


The other night, in a scene which passed before me, I saw one slipping down a precipice. A company was looking on indifferently, making no effort to save him. But one hand--the hand of Christ-- was stretched out, and the man was rescued. Christ drew him up, saying. "Hold fast to Me." He then placed the hands of the rescued man in the hands of his brethren who stood near, saying, "I have drawn him up that he may stand on vantage ground. Work for the salvation of souls, that you may all stand on vantage ground before God."


The Lord does not want one soul to be lost. Christ shed His blood to cleanse every human being from sin. Let us grasp the hand of infinite power, and arise in God's strength to proclaim the last message of mercy to a dying world.


Those whose hearts are filled with the love of God will exercise patience and kindness in dealing with others. Is there one here whom we desire to see numbered with unbelievers in the day when Christ shall come? It means everything to the followers of Christ to gain an experience that will enable them to save souls. We cannot afford to act in such a way toward those who are out of the fold that they will have no courage to grasp the hope of the gospel.

Brethren and sisters, pray as you have never prayed before that the Holy Spirit may come into this meeting, and that every heart may be softened. There are not simply two or three cases of division and misunderstanding among us. There are many who are cherishing distrust and suspicion. They have watched for failings in others, even while they had many failings themselves. Had they watched themselves, they would have found that they were cherishing a spirit which was not of Christ.

Angels of God are here today, watching anxiously to see how you will receive the words of the gospel. And evil angels are here also, ready to do their wicked work upon the minds of all who will listen to their insinuations. If you have not found the liberty of Christ, if your heart is not emptied of all bitterness and wrath and malice and selfishness, it is time that you made diligent work for repentance. God is calling you. Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your heart.

My brethren, will you not seek to get rid of the differences that are separating you from one another? Will you not humble yourselves before God, and seek to rescue every soul that is tempted by the enemy? Let us not leave one soul unaided on the field of battle. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, go to work in the way that God has pointed out, that you may receive the outpouring of the Spirit.

Whoever feels that he needs a firmer hold upon God, whoever desires to be separated from his natural and cultivated tendencies to evil, let him take his stand here for God today. I ask those who desire the prayers of God's people, that their sins may be forgiven and that they may receive power from on high, to rise to their feet. You may have made a profession of religion for many years, but your profession is of no avail unless in your daily life you live out the principles of truth. If there are those here who have made no profession, but who wish to be set free from habits that have enslaved them, I wish to say to them that they have the privilege of asking the prayers of God's people. Will you rise to your feet, and thus testify that you want to be made complete in Christ? (Nearly all of the congregation arose.)



[Sister White then offered prayer as follows:]



Our heavenly Father, we come to Thee at this time just as we are, needy and dependent, but we know, Lord, that Thou art a compassionate Saviour. Thou hast made an infinite sacrifice, that we may have eternal life, if we will only cooperate with Thee. We ask Thee to put it into our hearts today, to renew our covenant with Thee by sacrifice. Help us this day that we may lay hold upon Thee by living faith. Separate from us everything that would separate us from Thee.

Our Father, Thou knowest that we love Thee. We see a world ready to perish in sin, and we are not prepared to labor together with Thee. We desire to be fitted up for Thy service. We desire the Holy Spirit to descend upon us. We want the darkness to be swept away from our eyes, that we may have the clear light of understanding.

We ask Thy blessing upon those who have arisen to express their desire to be prepared for Thy coming. As they leave this pavilion, may they seek Thee in earnest prayer. May they go in companies of two or three, to seek Thee. Thou hast said that where two or three are gathered in Thy name, there Thou wilt be. Oh, give them a spirit of earnest pleading for the pardon of their sins, that Thou mayest say to them, "Thy sins be forgiven thee."

I ask Thee to pity every trembling soul in this congregation. I ask Thee, my Saviour, that Thou wilt awaken in the heart of every minister of the gospel, of every teacher, and of every one who professes to be Thy child, a desire for Thy Holy Spirit, that they may be endued with power, and that as they go from house to house, they may proclaim Thy truth. Let Thy message come to us, that we may arouse our sensibilities, that we may realize the value of souls. We want that every one here today shall be saved. May the light that shines from the throne of God shine into the chambers of the mind and into the soul-temple.

Merciful Redeemer, Thou knowest every one. Here are some who are weighted down with burdens that have rested heavily upon them. May they link up with Thee. May they put their arm in Thine arm, and cling to Thee, the mighty One, who hast said, "Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me, and he shall make peace with Me" [Isaiah 27:5]. These are Thy words. Show them how, Lord, show them how to humble their proud hearts. Show them what it means to break their will before God, and to take Thy will. Help them to cast their helpless souls upon the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. Present before them eternal life.

Let the sweetness of Thy Holy Spirit come into the hearts of Thy ministers, that Thy melting, merciful love, may be manifest in their life. I ask Thee to dispel everything that would prevent them from working for the salvation of souls. Put it into their hearts and minds to make a covenant with Thee by sacrifice. Even now, may the melting love of Christ come into our midst. May we hear the words, "Thou art Mine, I have begotten thee unto Myself."

O Lord, Thou knowest how the powers of evil are working. We see the world going to perdition. Baptize Thy ministers, baptize Thy workers, with Thy Holy Spirit. I ask Thee to let melting love and mercy fall upon this congregation.

Now let praise and thanksgiving ascend to God, that Thou hast heard our prayer. We believe in Thee, Lord. Wash us from every stain of sin. Cleanse and purify us, and let us understand what it means to perfect holiness in the fear of God. I ask Thee to set the feet of those who have been stumbling, in the right path of Thy self-denial and self-sacrifice.

What can we say, Lord? We are weak ourselves. We need Thy power. We see the work that we have to do. We give ourselves to Thee. Let Thy blessing come to us, and Thy name shall have all the glory.




[JOHN CHAPTER 17]



JESUS' PRAYER FOR HIMSELF

John 17:1-5 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: (2) As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. (3) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (4) I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (5) And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

JESUS' PRAYER FOR HIS DISCIPLES
(THE CHURCH)

John 17:6-19 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. (7) Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. (8) 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. (9) I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. (10) And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. (11) 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. (12) While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (13) And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (14) I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (15) I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (16) They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (17) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (18) As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. (19) And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

JESUS'S PRAYER FOR BELIEVERS

John 17:20-26 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (21) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (22) And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (23) 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. (24) Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (25) O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. (26) And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.












Source:

THE HOLY BIBLE (KJV)
John Chapter 17

MISCELLANEOUS COLLECTIONS
2SAT Sermons and Talks Volume Two (1994)
Chap. 34 - A Plea for Unity - Manuscript 52, 1904
[Sermon preached May 22, 1904, in Berrien Springs, Michigan.]
By Mrs. E. G. White












Your brother in Christ
Mel

[Updated on: Sat, 25 March 2017 09:21]

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