On the night that Jesus was betrayed, illegally tried in the middle of the night and crucified the next morning, He prayed for His Disciples and also for those of us who would come to believe that JESUS IS the MESSIAH, the SON OF GOD who takes away the SIN of the world, even some 2000 years later. In the final hours of our Savior’s life, Jesus made a plea to Heaven on behalf of all who would ever believe, that we would be…
- Filled with God’s Joy (Holy Spirit)
- protected from Satan’s schemes and plots
- sanctified in the truth of God’s Word
- and that all true believers would be unified, for in such, the world would know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was sent by the Father to save the world and that YHWH God has loved us as His children.
John 17:13: But now I (Jesus) am coming to You (Father/YHWH); and these things I speak in the world so that they (Jesus’ followers) may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world (unbelievers) has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them away from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 Just as You sent Me into the world, I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, so that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
20 “I am not asking on behalf of these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
22 The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me.
“It is significant that the Savior, in His last moments, would not only desire the salvation of all His people but also plead for the unity of the saved ones—that being saved they might be united. It was not enough that each sheep should be taken from the jaws of the wolf—He would have all the sheep gathered into one-fold under His own care. He was not satisfied that the members of His body should each one of them be saved as the result of His death—He must have those members fashioned into a glorious body.
Because unity lay so very near the Savior’s heart at such a timeCharles Spurgeon
of overwhelming trial✝️, it must have been priceless to Him.”
Unity of the Spirit was so precious and important to our dear Lord Jesus Christ that it was on His heart just before He was betrayed, arrested and crucified. Jesus was about to go into the most difficult and painful trial that anyone could ever face, and the unity of ALL those who would ever follow HIM was on His heart. 💖 If the believer’s unity was on our Savior’s heart as He faced this terrible trial, it should be on ours as well. As the world rushes headlong into what could be the most difficult trial on planet earth – the Tribulation period, let us take a few moments to reflect on our Savior’s prayer and one of His greatest desires. — The Unity of His people. Jesus’ prayer was not for the world, it was not for unbelievers, it was for ALL those who would ever believe on His Name.
John 17:9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.
Perfected Christian unity is achieved through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of ALL believers. Perfected Christian unity accomplishes two important things….
- The world (unbelievers) will believe that Father YHWH (God) sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world.
- The world (unbelievers) will know that the Father YHWH (God) LOVES ALL those who WOULD believe, just as He loves His Son Jesus. Love is the hallmark of a true believer in Jesus Christ and required to be a part of His family.
The question is, what kind of “unity” was Jesus speaking about in His amazing prayer? If Unity = ecumenism (uniting Christian …and sometimes even non-Christian faiths), then why is the world moving farther away from Jesus Christ and not towards Him? Unity of the Spirit is supposed to be one of the proofs to the world that Jesus IS the Messiah (Savior).
The book of Ephesians deals with Christian unity in detail.
Ephesians 4: I (Apostle Paul), therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Unity of the Spirit is not a general spirit of friendliness or camaraderie. Nor is unity some common objective or series of objectives. Christian unity is not something that mankind artificially creates, nor can he. Christian unity is the product of the Cross and God’s work in Christ. Jesus Christ IS the bond of peace that holds the body of Christ together (Ephesians 4).
Ezekiel 37:26 And I (YHWH) will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and set My sanctuary (dwelling place) in their midst forever.
The Greek word for bond may also be translated ligament, the body part that essentially holds us together. All those who believe in Jesus Christ and put their faith solely in what HE did on the Cross to save them from their sin have the Holy Spirit living inside of them and are joined together in this supernatural “body of Christ” where Jesus Christ is the head.
As a human body has many different parts that work together for the good of the individual, so does the body of Christ. God has equipped each member of the body with individual gifts and talents that will aide in the function of the body, helping each member to grow to maturity, and bless the body as a whole.
Ephesians 4:11: And He Himself (Jesus Christ) gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
The purpose of these gifts and talents that is given to each individual within the body of Christ is to grow and mature each person spiritually until they become more Christlike.
Ephesians 4:13: till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—
16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
The body is only as strong as its weakest link. The goal of the body should be to mature each believer in Christ to the point where they are walking like their Savior. Of course, we will not ever reach full maturity while in these human fleshly bodies, but we can and should grow.
What are the signs that a Christian has grown or at least desires to grow in their faith to the point of maturity? 🤔
The first hallmark of a mature Christian is that they will seek to abound in love. 💕
John 13:35: By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,
As we grow in Christ, we will see ourselves growing in love towards God and also towards people. Our growing love for God and others should be noticeable to those around us. God’s love 💕is a characteristic of every truly born-again person. 💕 One commentator wrote this about the Church at Philippi….
“At Philippi, love showed itself to be of the very essence of the new nature given to the believer. No sooner had Lydia become a Christian than she pressed Paul and his company to become her house-guests. No sooner had the jailor become a Christian than, though he had earlier fastened the apostle’s feet in the stocks, he began to bathe his wounds. When the hostility of the people (non-believers) made Paul leave Philippi, the church, by contrast, identified with the persecuted apostle (Philippians 1:28-30) and sent him help more than once (Philippians 4:14-16). Love was their new nature in Christ.
The kind of love that a Christian is supposed to walk in is not a “feeling or emotion“, but an act of will. Love is decisive.
“I choose to love God and therefore I obey His commandments as best I can. I choose to love my neighbors by helping and serving them. I choose to love my enemies by praying for them, blessing them, and forgiving them. I may not feel like doing this, but as an act of obedience to God—an act of the will—I choose to love them.”
A spiritually mature Christian’s love will never stagnate or peak. This is because They are constantly seeking for their love to grow. In fact, what marks them as mature is the fact that they are still growing more and more in love with God every day and they are growing more and more in love with their neighbor every day.
A mature Christian is marked by Growing knowledge of the scriptures and of God.💡
In Philippians 1, Paul desired not only for the Philippian’s love to abound more and more, but also for them to grow in knowledge and discernment. We need the Word of God and the instruction of the Holy Spirit to show us the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. A mature Christian will look to God’s Word for wisdom rather than looking to the world or leaning on their own human understanding. In learning God’s precepts, the believer will be able to make better choices.
Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
As with Love, a mature Christian will never “peak” in their knowledge of Scripture. The Word of God is “simple enough that a child can understand it but deep enough that a scholar can drown in it.”
A mature Christian is continually desiring to grow in their knowledge of God. This includes both growing in the scriptures and also growing in their own personal experience of God. They desire to “know” God on an intimate and personal level. The Hebrew word for “know” speaks of a deep, intimate relationship. In the Old Testament, the word “know” even referred to sexual relationships as seen in the Covenant of marriage. Adam “knew” his wife (Genesis 4:1).
We see this in the narratives and writings of the mature believers in the Bible. Moses who spoke to God face to face, prayed for God to show him his glory (Ex 33:18). He prayed to see God in an even more intimate way.
David said this to God: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).
Paul said this about Christ: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).
There are other important hallmarks of a mature Christian such as repentance, humility, discernment, integrity, sincerity, spiritual endurance, good works (fruits of the Spirit), and the desire to constantly glorify God in everything they think, say and do.
The “unity of the Spirit” is the product of the Cross whereby each believer is joined together by Christ’s Holy Spirit who unites us ALL into a single body. God has GIFTED each member of the body so that ALL can someday attain full maturity in Christ. This should be our desire.
Because mankind is still living in fallen vessels and because there are MANY spiritually immature Christians who are not being trained to attain to the fullness of Christ, there continues to exist MANY divisions.
Division was not our Savior’s desire and does not glorify JESUS.
What causes division? The Bible speaks of many things that cause division. Division is not the same thing as diversity. The body of Christ is very diverse and includes people from every tribe, race, nation and tongue (language). God also distributes a diversity of gifts and talents meant to build up the body. The apostle Paul compared the organic diversity within the body to various body parts of a human body such as a foot or an eye. Diversity within the body of Christ is a strength, not a weakness. However, division is completely different and has its root in sin.
False teachers and prophets promoting wrong doctrine (not adhering to the Word of God) causes division
Romans 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
Jude 1: 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time (last days) who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
I remember very well all of the Church council meetings on “human sexuality” that have taken place over the past few decades. For centuries the Church (includes most denominations) has determined (based on the clear Word of God) that human sexuality should ONLY be between one man and one woman within the Covenant of marriage, and that marriage can ONLY be between a man and a woman. However, liberal members of the Church and political activists created great disturbances at their Synods and council meetings until finally MANY CHURCHES either acquiesced, redefining the Biblical marriage OR the church SPLIT. I can only guess how many denominations split on this one issue alone. This is a clear situation where sound doctrine was not followed and those who cause division and offense were permitted to fracture the entire community. However, we now see HIStory being rewritten, and those who caused these divisions now accuse Bible believing Christians of being the divisive ones. 😲
The Bible WARNED us that sensual people who walk according to their own lusts would enter the Church in the last days with the intention of creating division (Jude 1). Should we be surprised when we see this very thing taking place, even if these people hold an important position in the Church as “Pastor”, “Bishop” or “Reverend”?
Greed (idolatry), pride, and envy cause division within the body of Christ
1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
Instead of being focused on the truth and committed to it, even in the case where they are found to be in error and need of correction, false teachers will persist in sowing controversy and division instead of exemplifying the humility that comes from submission to God’s Word and the unity that would result from such humility. By sowing such division, one could fully expect the fruit of their ministry to include “envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction.” Their motivation in all of this according to Paul is their love of money.
Paul was very critical of the prosperity teachers of his day, and of anyone who advocated a religious dogma (principles/doctrine) which did not agree with sound words of the Lord Jesus Christ, or teachings which conformed to godliness. So much of the New Testament is devoted to expressing the need for Christians to walk in spiritual maturity, godliness, and holiness (avoiding all sin), but I honestly cannot remember hearing even one sermon that addressed the issue of sin over the many years of my church-going, and this includes several mainstream denominations. Is it any wonder we find divisions within the body of Christ?
The body of Christ will not reach full unity (and therefore maturity) until the Lord returns and truth is completely restored to the entire body of Christ. The “fullness of the gentiles” will be complete. At the end of the age, the body of Christ will expand to include a huge influx of new Jewish believers who will recognize that Jesus IS the prophesied Messiah. This is what the book of Ephesians calls the “One New Man”…Jew and Gentile (non-Jew) all unified as One Body IN CHRIST JESUS through the HOLY SPIRIT.
Ephesians 2:14: For He (Jesus Christ) Himself is our peace, who has made both (Jew and Gentile) one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two (Jew and gentile), thus making peace, 16 and that He (Jesus Christ) might reconcile them both (Jew and Gentile) to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
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.
Is ecumenism and the “One world religion” an example of the unity of the Spirit? No….this is false Christian unity, contrived by men who ultimately desire some sort of governing body and hierarchy. The false unity that is being pursued by power-hungry men is devoid of TRUTH and devoid of the Holy Spirit. This religion, spear-headed by Pope Francis and others, will include non-believers in various religions including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jewish mysticism and New Age witchcraft/wiccan movement. The Holy Spirit is NOT a part of this Satanic movement.
The purpose of the Unity of the Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ and to show the world through CHRISTIAN LOVE that God sent HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON JESUS CHRIST to the earth to SAVE MANKIND.
Glorification of our Savior is NOT the purpose of the false unity that seeks to pretend there is common ground between all religions, regardless of their beliefs…regardless of what “god” they worship. The idea of unity has been warped and distorted into “organizational uniformity“ or “conformity“…and used by unscrupulous wolves🐺 in religious sheep’s clothing WHO DESIRE TO…
- gain personal wealth and power,
- to DENY TRUTH AND CAUSE THEIR FOLLOWERS TO SIN
- and to OPPRESS many peoples.
Speaking of the political/religious entity that was the powerful Roman Catholic Church, Charles Spurgeon had this to say….
“These words of the Saviour on the “Unity of the Spirit” (John 17:21) have been perverted to the doing of a world of mischief.
“Falling asleep, I say, these ecclesiastics have dreamed of a great confederation, presided over by a number of ministers, these again governed by superior officers, and these again by others, and these topped at last by a supreme visible head who must be either a person or a council: this great confederacy containing within itself kingdoms and nations, and becoming so powerful as to work upon states, to influence politics, to guide councils, and even to gather together and to move armies.”
“True, the shadow of the Saviour’s teaching, “My kingdom is not of this World,” must have caused an occasional nightmare in the midst of their dream, but they dreamed on; and what is worse, they turned the dream into a reality, and the time was when the professed followers of Christ were all one, when looking north, south, east, west, from the centre at the Vatican, one united body covered all Europe.”
“And what was the result? Did the world believe that God had sent Christ? The world believed the very opposite.
The world was persuaded that God had nothing to do with that great crushing, tyrannous, superstitious, ignorant thing which called itself Christianity. All professors were one, but the world believed not; the fact being that this was not the unity which Jesus had so much as thought of — it was never His intention to set up a great united body to be called a Church which should domineer and lord everywhere over the souls of men, and comprehend within its ranks, kings, princes and statesmen who might be worldly, ungodly, hateful, sensual, devilish.”
It was never Christ’s design to set up a conscience crushing engine of uniformity; and so the great man-devised machine when it was brought to perfection, and set to work with the greatest possible vigour, instead of working out that the world should believe that the Father had sent Christ, wrought out just this, that the world did not believe anything at all, but became infidel, licentious, and rotten at the core, and the system had to be abated as a common nuisance, and something better brought into the world to restore morality.
If Mr. Spurgeon were alive today, he would be horrified because the “conscience crushing engine of uniformity” that he described now includes the Roman Catholic Church, many evangelical Protestant churches (the world’s council of churches) and is even expanding to include non-believing religions. 😲Of course, millions of people within these groups do not agree on how one becomes a child of God; how true or authoritative God’s Word is; how to interpret the Scriptures; or even how to live the Christian life in a way that glorifies the Lord. Needless to say, that non-believing religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and New Age religion do not even believe or accept that Jesus Christ IS the Son of the Living God who died to take away our sin.
The Unity of the Spirit is not some artificial peace or “togetherness” that self-appointed leaders desire to create. Jesus Christ Himself is the bond of peace that unites all BORN AGAIN BELIEVERS together as ONE BODY, even those of differing denominations. However, unbelievers cannot be a part of Christian unity because they do not house the Holy Spirit.
Christian denominations are not the Will of God, but they are a reality based on imperfect people doing their best to follow God according to their conscience. As believers, there are certain basic doctrines that we must believe, but beyond that there is liberty on how we can serve and worship. This is diversity, not disunity.
Pastor Coverstone is calling for UNITY, asking the Church to pray TOGETHER against the ROOT of EVIL in the world🪓. The time is NOW! The body of Christ is stronger when we UNIFY against EVIL. 🙏🙏🙏