Unity Marches Victorious In Diversity

Pastor Jake Schram

Worship Theme: Unity Marches Victorious In Diversity

First Lesson: Acts 16:6-10 (NIV)
Second Lesson: Revelation 22:12-17,20 (NIV)
Gospel : John 17:20-26 (NIV)

Music:

  • CW 908 Go Forth and Preach the Gospel
  • Soon and Very Soon
  • CW 730 Blest Be the Tie That Binds
  • CW 732 Blest Be the Tie That Binds

Message Notes & Growth Group Questions

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Message: Unity Marches Victorious In Diversity

Pastor Jake Schram

Today as we read from John 17, we read some words that calm our anxious hearts. Words that Jesus prayed in confidence to his heavenly Father about you and me as members of the Holy Christian Church. The night before he died, Jesus prayed this prayer for us. You were on your Savior’s mind as he went to the cross, and you still are! Jesus continues to intercede for you every single day as he sits in glory at his Father’s right hand. He grants us unity with one another, despite our differences. He grants unity with him.

Jesus is in the upper room with the disciples the night before his death. Judas had already left to betray him. And the very last thing Jesus does before leaving to go to the garden of Gethsemane was to pray in the presence of his disciples. In the first part of the prayer, Jesus prays for himself. Jesus has some pretty intense couple of days ahead of him. He prays that he will glorify his heavenly Father by completing the work of salvation that he came to do. In the second part of the prayer, Jesus prays for his disciples at his side. He prays that they would be protected from the devil and strengthened for what was coming. Our text for today contains the third and final part of Jesus’ prayer. Here, Jesus prays for all believers—he prays for you. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message…”

This verse shares two important truths with us. First of all, this verse very clearly shows us that Jesus is praying for us. Christians of 2022, and Christians of all time. Why? Because we believe in Jesus Christ through the message the disciples shared. God’s Word. This brings us to the other truth, which we need to be reminded of our entire lives. “Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).” I can’t bring myself to faith, the Holy Spirit works and strengthens that faith when I hear the gospel, that same good news about Jesus the disciples shared back then. 2000 years has not changed the good news and 2000 more won’t diminish it in the slightest. We’re all still saved the same way. By God’s grace, through faith. So, Jesus’ prayer is for you.

And what does he pray for you? “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” Jesus prays for a unity of believers. That they be one. When we confess our faith in our services using the words of the Nicene Creed, there’s one line in there where we confess this prayer was answered. “I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic church.” The existence of the Holy Christian church, created and preserved by means of the message of Jesus, is really God’s answer to Jesus’ prayer. The Holy Christian Church is made up of all believers of all time. People from every language and tribe and nation and generation. Different cultures, backgrounds, social standings, different lives. So many differences, and yet united, one – one holy Christian church. How can people so different still be united? Because the faith in the Savior is one and the same.

This unity doesn’t eliminate any differences among the church’s members. Rather this unity is built on truths that transcend those differences. Every member of the true Christian church is united to every other member of the church. They share the closest bond humans can share. They are a communion of saints.

St Paul describes it like this “You are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).” One building with Christ as the cornerstone. One body with Christ as the head. One holy Christian church, that you are a member of by faith in Christ. Jesus’ prayer for you and for all believers is that you keep that unity, a true unity based on his Word. The church’s one foundation remains Jesus Christ, her Lord. We are united with one another through Christ.

To show this unity I’m going to ask you to link arms with the people next to you. If that’s a little too close for you then just tap elbows. We are doing this because Jesus links us together with him and one another. And now you might remember it better because of the action. In ancient times, armies would stand together moving as one unit, protecting one another, having strength together, moving forward together. You are linked together too in our spiritual warfare. As Christians you are connected even when you feel alone, even when distance or time is between one another, you are still connected to each other through Christ.

That’s the first part of Jesus’ prayer for you. Stay connected to Jesus. That’s what we want for everyone here. That you always stay connected to Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned (John 15:5-6).” Without that connection to Jesus through faith, there isn’t any eternal life! We always need that connection to him. But staying connected to him isn’t always easy.

In Scripture, God reminds us we have the three big enemies against us. The first one is the devil. The devil doesn’t just give up once you’ve been confirmed or leave you alone when you’re a member of a church. If anything, it just means he’s going to try harder to break that connection. To make the Bible or worship seem so bland and unimportant. To get you to not feed your faith regularly. To try to convince you that the sins you commit aren’t really a big deal, even though God tells us even one sin not forgiven through faith is enough to separate us from him. Or the devil might try to get you to think that your sins are so big and nasty that Jesus wouldn’t want to forgive them. The devil knows that only the fires of hell are in store for him and he wants to try and drag as many of you there with him.

The next big enemy we have is the sinful world around us that doesn’t understand sin and grace. We are surrounded by a culture that doesn’t think sin is a problem at all. In many cases, our world encourages sin. “Everyone’s doing it. It just makes sense so what’s the problem?” The world makes you feel like what God wants for you isn’t enough, how you look isn’t enough, what you own isn’t enough, that God himself isn’t enough.

And even if you could somehow get away from these first two enemies, the last enemy may be the most dangerous. It’s you. Your sinful nature, that fights against what God says, that hates everything God wants, and will never stop trying to wrestle you away from your Savior.

It’s not going to be easy to stay connected to Jesus. In fact, we look at our lives, the things we do every day, the things we’ve said, the things we’ve thought, and we see how these three enemies regularly get the better of us. Even early this morning, all three enemies may have already gotten you to slip up today. We compare these shortcomings with God’s law and what do we see? God’s law shows our sins. It shows how we have fallen short and it reminds us of what we deserve. The wages of sin is death. How on earth can we stay connected to Jesus when we have all of this stacked against us?

Look at who we have for us. Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where the law cuts us to the heart and shows our sins, the gospel bandages us back up and reminds us we are forgiven. The gospel shows our Savior. See what your Savior Jesus has done for you. He lived the perfect life you couldn’t and completely paid for your sins by his death on the cross. He is your atoning sacrifice, he makes you “at one” with God because nothing is hindering your relationship with him anymore. He defeated the power of the devil so that the devil can’t accuse you anymore. He has shown you something better so you can be guided by him and not the world. He has made you a new creation that struggles against your sinful nature and wants what God wants. And because Jesus rose on Easter morning and lives forever, you will do that too. In fact, that’s part of Jesus' prayer today for you. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory.” Jesus brushes sin aside and gives us a pure unity with him.

We have unity with other believers in Christ based on his Word. We have unity with Christ just as he and the Father have unity with one another, but this does not mean we have unity with everyone. In fact, God’s Word often places us in contrast to the world. We may not have unity with everyone, but the truth that unites us can be shared. Jesus was confident that his disciples would spread the gospel. He even expected it from his followers. The unity of believers should have an effect on outsiders so that they see Christ. The unbelieving world should get some idea of what Christianity is by what we do. Jesus said, “that the world may believe (v. 21)” and, “I will continue to make {the Father} known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” Jesus makes it clear that the gospel is meant to reach a great number and great variety of people. This is the church’s mission, to spread this wonderful knowledge that is better than anything else the world can know.

Jesus went to the cross for you so that his prayer for you could come true. In heaven we will enjoy the glory of God forever. We will be brought to complete unity there with our Savior as the one Holy Christian Church. No longer any devil, world or sinful nature to get in the way. And the Savior who prayed for you the night before he died continues to pray for you now at his Father’s right hand. That you stay connected with him as a member of the Holy Christian Church. That you stay focused on the goal of heaven no matter what stage of life you’re in. That you share the Gospel with one another. And that together you continue to strengthen your relationship with your Savior.

Left to ourselves this would be absolutely impossible. But our Savior who rules in our hearts by faith enables the impossible to happen. He has promised you your sins are forgiven. He has promised nothing will snatch you out of his hand. He continues to pray for you every single day and through every chapter of life. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let it be your comfort and joy that Jesus grants a unity which marches victorious over all things. Amen.