Sermons Updates

God Speaks to God: Part 4 (John 17) – Mark Ottaway

God Speaks with God (Part #4)

Biblical Love

John 17:26; Eph 5:1-2a


Well, we have come to the end of John 17, turn there, where Jesus prays for His followers. My first intention over a month ago was to do this prayer in chapter 17 on one Sunday and here we are in week #4. And with most blessings in the Bible, this prayer comes with a great privilege, that Jesus would actually pray for us. But it also comes with great responsibility, that Jesus has prayed for us. I want to look at the last prayer of Jesus this morning, but before we get to it, there is something that I have been considering regarding this prayer of Christ, and it is that Jesus has been sharing so lavishly with us in each of these things He prays for us.


Prayer #1 that we would know the Father and the Son


We are being welcomed into the knowledge of God. Come and know Me says the Lord. Ephesians 1:17, that we would have full knowledge of Him. And Paul’s prayer in Philippians 3:10, that I may know Him. This prayer is an invitation to know God.


Prayer #2 that we would be kept in the Father’s name


This is where God was referred to as the Holy Father, as God wants to share part of His character with us, and we are welcomed to strive for His character. That God did not only forgive us of our sin, but He welcomes us to become like Christ.


Prayer #3 that we would have Christ’s joy made full in us


Jesus desires to share His joy with us, as He welcomes us into this joyous relationship between the Father and the Son. This is the difference between someone telling you about something that happened to them that was so joyful, simply telling you about it, but then they actually invite you to be part of it. I’ve got some great news for you. We are planning on going on a trip to Hawaii. But we also want you to come with us. This prayer by Christ is an invitation to share His joy.


Prayer #4 that we would be kept from the evil one


And where I see this sharing in this prayer is that right after Jesus states this, look what He says in verse 16:

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

John 17:16 (LSB)


He wants to share with us His situation, His circumstance. We physically live in this world as He physically lived in this world, but we are not of the world as He is not of the world. There is no “too bad about your luck.” No, Christ says, I have faced temptations in every way as you have. I have been where you have been. But ultimately Jesus says, you and I are not of this world. See, Jesus welcomes us to His world. Jesus naturally came from heaven and was with His Father. Yet He voluntarily came to the earth. On the other hand, we naturally came from this world. This world that will pass away, this world that has been stained by sin. And though we live here now, He welcomes us into His world. His eternal world with the Father.


Prayer #5 that we would be empowered by God’s truth


This is a willingness to share truth with us. Truth that is revealed in His Word. In other words, there is no hiding from us, as the Holy Spirit has made known to us the secrets of God. Things that we would have never known outside of the Bible. Now some of those things are easy to understand. Adam and Eve lived in the Garden, that’s a fact. Methuselah lived to 969 years of age, that’s a fact. A flood came, that’s a fact. God called the nation of Israel through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and on and on, as the Bible gives us facts and figures that reveal to us real history, that we can read and know. Facts that we can teach to our children so that they can understand. Some facts are normal, a guy fell asleep while Paul was preaching. Some of you may be able to relate to that. And some facts are amazing, Jonah was in the belly of a fish for three days. But they are facts that we can read and understand. And our children can understand.


And then there are things that God has revealed that must be thought about in a deeper way. The effects of Adam and Eve’s sin, and how it has hindered man. Or the determination of Joseph to trust God while in prison, even after the great hatred shown to him by his brothers. The tragedies in Job’s life. The cost of following Christ. These are still things that we can teach our children, but they may not be able to quite comprehend them in the same way as a simple fact. They are all true things, but they cause us to think deeper, don’t they?


And then some things are even more difficult to understand. The origin of sin. Why did Adam and Eve sin? Or the depths of God’s love. Why did He send His Son to a sinful world? A truth that we talked about last Sunday night, that God can determine all things even the death of His Son at the hands of sinful men. That He is the Potter who does with the clay as He chooses, and yet at the same time we are responsible for our actions and our decisions. These are truths that we may not be able to teach our children until they are older. In fact, they are truths that we do not fully understand ourselves. We may get asked by our kids, how did God create the world in six days? And in reality, we have no idea, but we know that He did. Why? Because God has shared this truth with us. God has given us an invitation into history and the future, and into the plan of salvation for mankind.


Prayer #6 that we would be united


And here Jesus does not just pray that we would enjoy unity, but He prays that that unity would be like the unity He enjoys with the Father. So, He shares relationship with us, as He welcomes us into relationship. Here Jesus is the Son of God desires that we would become sons and daughters of God.


Prayer #7 that we would see Christ’s glory


When I lived in Stoney Creek, there was a kid down the street who seemed to be better off than the rest of us, and he was a hard guy to like. It was probably around his eighth birthday, and we were all getting stuff at that time like a baseball bat or I got a used bike. Now I was pretty happy with my used bike because it had monkey handlebars and a banana seat. And you put the baseball cards on the spokes. Man, I was riding all over Stoney Creek. Admittedly, it wasn’t quite like my brother’s bike, as Harold was nine years older than me, and he had the butterfly handlebars. And he would take me for rides all over Stoney Creek, as I proudly sat on these handlebars. But this kid my age down the street, I can’t remember his first name, but his last name was Simmons. And I remember he got a Polaroid camera for his eighth birthday. Now it wasn’t only bad that he got a Polaroid camera, but it was the fact that he flaunted that camera in front of all of us. Admittedly, I was probably a little jealous.


But here is something to consider. That Jesus is not “sons” of God, but He is the “Son of God.” He is equal with the Father. He is from eternity past. He is sinless. Every moment of His life on earth and every moment of both eternity past and eternity future is lived with sinless perfection. The Bible says that He is the Creator and that all things are His. The Bible says that He has inherited all things. We have already studied John 1:3:

“All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

John 1:3 (LSB)


Yet He looks down at sinners like you and I, we who deserve nothing, and He says, here is My Polaroid camera, you have it. In fact, He actually says here (vs 22), the glory which You [the Father] have given Me [Christ] I have given to them. In other words, He shares with us His glory. Not the glory as God, that would be blasphemy. But the glory He experienced on earth as a Man, as a human. Because Jesus lived a perfect life, He fulfilled complete righteousness, and He desires to share that righteousness and goodness with us. In other words, He invites us into His perfection as a Human. Think of that, He takes your life and my life, with all its selfishness, and sin, and He gives to us His righteousness so that we stand perfect before God. 2 Corinthians 5:21:

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

2 Cor 5:21 (LSB)

That means everything. That means that every perfect thing that Jesus did in fulfilling the law has been credited to you and me. Jesus didn’t just have the Polaroid camera and give us some second-hand B/W clunker like I got from my Gramps. No, we are given all the riches of Christ. Paul told the Philippians:

“And my God will fulfill all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Phil 4:19 (LSB)


And do not think of this verse as only applicable to this life. For I am sure the persecuted and the poor Philippian Christians are enjoying everything they have received from Jesus today in glory. Jesus welcomes us to everything that is His, as he freely shares even His righteousness and His human glory with us. Well, now the final prayer.

“… and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

John 17:26 (LSB)


Prayer #8 that we would have the Love of God in Us (vs 26)


Jesus prayed that the love that He had received from the Father might be in you and me. Here again, we have the sharing of something, in this case, love, as Jesus welcomes us into a love relationship. And do we even want to consider the massive ramifications of this? I mean we may want to relish in the great privilege of this, but the responsibility of this! Imagine having the same love for people as the Lord has for people. Imagine having the same heart for your neighbour as the Lord has for your neighbor. Listen to the kind of love that the Lord has for people.

“For one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Rom 5:7-8 (LSB)


Never in our theology is there such an overwhelming truth greater than the love of God. And all truths about God, or all attributes about God are incredible. But the love of God seems to be limitless. Though I suppose we could also say that about His omniscience, as His knowledge too seems to be limitless; or His power, His omnipotence seems to be limitless. But here is where the great challenge comes. We are not expected to be all-powerful like God. We are not expected to be all-knowing like God. Yet Christ has prayed that we would have the same love in us that is in the Father. And I would understand here that we are not expected to be all-loving as God is. Even in eternity we will never be like Christ in His deity. I do not believe that we will know all things in eternity, as we must always keep separated the perfections of deity versus the perfections of humanity. Even in their perfect human state, Adam and Eve would not have known everything. In fact, God kept from them the knowledge of good and evil. But what we are speaking of here, and what Jesus is praying for us here as redeemed human beings, is the same love that Jesus knew as a human. And this is what the Apostle Paul desired and prayed for:

“[S]o that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being firmly rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

Eph 3:17-19 (LSB)

So, we have this level of godly love. And I trust we have the hope or desire that we would be able to show this kind of depth of love. And we have Christ praying that we would experience this type of love. But I believe that we may lack two things. One is the actual conviction to show this depth of love, for reasons we will talk about; and two is the wisdom to show this depth of love. So, we are dealing with people. It could be someone who has hurt us or where relationships are strained. Maybe they are a Leaf fan and you just don’t like them. But it could also be someone who would just as soon persecute us or be directly against us. So, there could be countless situations here of the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, how do I have the wisdom and conviction to show this love?


So, let’s go from the easiest to the hardest. Maybe a child that you need to confront about something. And I am not talking about our own weaknesses as when we may not say something for fear of being rejected by our child, or we do not say something for fear of not being liked. Those are our own struggles we need to sort out. But you know what I am talking about here Moms and Dads. Times when your child takes a wrong turn. And we do not mind confronting. We do not mind being rejected. That is not the issue. No, the issue is at times how to best respond in love. In other words, I do not mind speaking the truth, but how do I confront this situation in love? I mean, this is something that I face every week in preaching. It is not so much what to teach or what to say, it is how do I communicate this in a spirit of love? I mean we might be concerned about a brother or sister here at the church, but the hard part is how do I express my concern in love? Or how do I say to my children when they have done something really dumb? How do I say, that was really dumb, in love? Or a wandering brother or sister in Christ. How do I reel them back in, in love?


So, there is definitely wisdom involved in love, knowing what to say and when to say it, in love. But that is probably not our greatest challenge. How about the challenge of loving someone you don’t like? Maybe it is that guy sitting down from you in church this morning. And we can laugh at that, but maybe someone in church is hard for you to love. But likely even harder again is that neighbor that bugs you, that guy at work, or that brother-in-law? Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote that there is a great difference between loving and liking. He said that liking is natural for us and usually it does not take a lot of effort. He wrote this:

Love goes beyond what is natural and what is our instinct, and looks past what it does not like to act kindly toward the person who stands behind the flaws. Loving those “we do not like means that we treat them as if we did like them.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones


He said this because this is the same kind of love as displayed in the gospels, as God loved us when we were His enemies, not His friends. Jason Meyer wrote:

“Gospel love means we do to others what He has done for us. Loving this way is possible only for Christians, and thus loving this way proves that we are Christians.”

Jason Meyer


Martyn Lloyd-Jones has given a great description of the reason we may struggle to love as we are instructed, and so I thought I would share them with you this morning.


The Difficulty in Having the Faith to Love


Difficulty #1: The Devil      


Satan loves to make us doubt not only our faith. But also, to doubt the fallout of loving someone we are struggling to love so that we might quit trying or give in to hate. Yet Lloyd-Jones said that just because you doubt something does not mean you are not a Christian, for Satan will cause us to doubt many things. Just step out a do anything for God and all of a sudden you may have doubts and fears, and several things may cause you to question what you have decided. The question really of our faith and our love is whether we are going to allow those doubts to stop us from doing what we know is right. Difficulty #1 is Satan.


Difficulty #2: Sin


Sin is going to cause us to be selfish and cause us to rationalize why we should not love someone, or to make us lack the effort it may take to love someone. Or let’s face it, sin would just give us no desire to reach out to someone we do not like, or someone who has been nasty to us or treated us unfairly, or who just didn’t agree with us on a significant issue. And of course, acknowledging our own faults is never really all that much fun, as sometimes we can tend to downplay our own sin, especially if we think we have enough goodness to counter it. In other words, yeah, I did say something harsh to that person, but man, they were a lot worse to me. So, Satan and sin make loving difficult.


Difficulty #3: An Unbalanced Love


Just as our faith must be balanced, so too must our love. Faith is a head issue because faith is something that we must believe. In fact, faith must begin with belief. But we also know that faith is a heart issue as when we believe in Christ. Our hearts desire that we would be loyal to him and that we must give our allegiance to Him. But then also faith is an issue of the will. That my faith that I believe and hold to, that because I have given my allegiance to Christ, therefore, I must act. In other words, my will must respond. And real biblical love is the same. First it must be a head decision, that I will choose to love. But secondly, it must also be a heart issue, or it is false and superficial. And lastly, it must be an action, a decision of our wills to do something. A balanced biblical love must include our mind, heart, and will.


I think of the love that God showed to the nation of Israel. In Deuteronomy 7, the Bible says that God chose to love Israel. It was a decision to love. And that is where love must start, as it started in the mind of God. But it also says that He set His affections on Israel. This included His heart. In other words, God did not love Israel without a heart desire to embrace Israel. Or when Jesus looked over Jerusalem, it tells us He cried over it. And then it says because the Lord loved Israel, He brought them out of Egypt, and He acted. His decision and heart caused Him to act on Israel’s behalf. His will acted. All three of these must be included to demonstrate the biblical definition of love, a balanced definition of love. The kind of love that has been given to us by God. A balanced biblical love must include our mind, heart, and will.


So, this is the difficulty in you and I acting out in love, the kind of love that Jesus desired to share with His followers. And we can just sit back and bask in that love, I am so glad that Jesus loves me. And there is plenty of room for that in the Bible, to be able to rest in knowing we are greatly loved by God. But the emphasis here on this passage is that the disciples would know the same love that was extended from the Father to the Son and then extended to them so that they could extend the same love to others. As an aside here, it is good to realize that the only reason we believe is because of the faith given to us to believe. The Bible is clear that you and I were dead, and there is no way we could have believed until we were made alive. A spiritually dead person cannot believe in Jesus Christ. So, in salvation, God makes us alive first, regenerates us, and then gives us the gift of faith. And this is similar with love, as we cannot truly love until God did something in us. 1 John 4:19, we love, why? because He first loved us, in other words, we cannot love biblically if He did not first love us. In closing turn to Ephesians 5.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love.”

Eph 5:1-2a (LSB)


Folks we do not walk in love so that we can be children of God. No, we walk in love why? because we are children of God. And we have been taught well, because the passage says that we are beloved children. And really what Paul is saying here in Ephesians and what Jesus is praying in John 17 is that He says, children of God, you have been greatly loved, therefore, you now love. In other words, there is no lack of love in you, God has not held anything back from you. Think of everything He has done for you, so now you do this for others. And that love must eventually become a love in the mind, then in the heart, and then in the will. Notice that the Bible does not say that God loves us, period. No, it says things like He loved us, therefore, He did not consider Himself. He loved us, therefore, He gave Himself up for us. He loved us, therefore, He laid down His life for us. This love goes way beyond liking someone. Lloyd-Jones says that “we do to others what He has done for us.” I would like to end this sermon with how Martyn Lloyd-Jones ended a sermon.

“Is there anything in the world which is comparable to the privilege of being a Christian? We are asked and invited and called upon to live as Christ lived; and we are the only people in the world who can live as Christ lived. A man who is not a Christian cannot live like that. He needs to be born again, he must have a new nature and a new life. He must have his eyes opened to the blessed truth of the Gospel. Nothing but that can ever enable men and persuade men to walk in love even as Christ did. What a privilege, what an honor, what a high calling, to be imitators of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ!”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Let’s pray. Father, we thank You for the love which You have shared with us. “See how great a love the Father has given to us, that we would be called children of God.” And then we see the assurance here, “and we are children of God,” exclamation mark! Lord, we rejoice that through faith we are Your children, and You have lavishly loved us. So, may we freely give that love to others. To those we like and to those we do not. To those who are kind to us, and those who are not, biblical love. And all God’s people said, amen.