Wednesday, August 14, 2013

God Keeps His Children in His Name (John 17:11-12)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermons on 12 May 2013 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 17:11-12

Jesus Christ as Word in the Flesh became God's representative in the world. As this period of Word in the Flesh closes, Jesus Christ goes back to the Father, and the believers become God's representative in the world. This is the meaning of verse 11. To be kept in God's name, God's protection, and God's command for the disciples to be united are the main things that Jesus talks about in this verse.

All of us who are created in God's image are all made in His glory. This is recorded by Isaiah, 'All who are called unto my Name, I created in my glory'. God desires to be glorified in us. How to glorify God? We need to live like God for we have all been created in his image. This is how: When God-incarnate lived on earth, he told us to imitate him, and take his yoke, because his yoke is light. The saints then follow Jesus Christ as he is the original image of God (created in / like God's image). This can be only done in dependence on God. This is why Jesus said, '... and keep them.' Therefore we must remember that we are able glorify God not because of our labour, our behaviour, ability, or ability to pay the price, but because God has kept us for the sake of his name. This is what it means to '..keep them in your name...'

This idea is present in Confucians' correct name theory. Opposite to this, Socrates says one must use the correct name before one say something, and hence things will be smooth. In Chinese military strategy: One must fight war with the right course.

Next Jesus prayed for the Church to be one:
1. God's word - The Church needs to be one in the Word of God
2. God's name - The Church needs to be one because of his Name
3. God's glory - The Church needs to be one for the sake of his Glory

There are 3 different areas of unity:
1. Among the divinity of God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit)
2. Being like God among different people i.e. the created creatures
3. Unity between man and Christ (or more appropriately, the union between man and Christ)
Our unity ought to be modelled after Jesus Christ.

Later in verse 12, the Bible mentions about the name that God gives to Lord Jesus. The kind of name that God gave to Jesus Christ is such that it is the only name through which we can be saved. In the Bible, the name 'God' is used for Jesus in Thomas' confession after the resurrection. Also in Romans 9:5, Heb 1:8, Ps 110:1, and when 3 angels (who were God) visited Abram concerning Sodom and Gomorrah. In Isa 9:7 God gave Jesus Christ names like Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.

Lastly, the son of destruction in v12 refers to Judas Iscariot who sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.


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