No one except those who have been born of the Spirit and given eternal life may know God, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (Jn. 17:3). Talk about exclusive!
Unregenerate man has no commonality, no connection, and certainly no communication with God. To unregenerate man, God is unknowable (even though some mistakenly believe that knowledge about God equals knowing God). Something within man must correspond to something in God for relationship to occur. Man must be transformed, given eternal life, in order to relate to the Eternal Life. Christ has done that very thing.
God is eternal life; man is dead in trespasses and sin, eternally condemned, without hope, and certainly without any ability to interact with Eternal Life. Christ came to die as man's substitute for sin and to rise again, not merely to change man's eternal destination, but to alter man's sinful disposition-give him eternal life-so that he might know the Eternal One now.
Jesus' prayer reveals not only the altered disposition of those who believe in Him, but also their altered state, "Because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world . . . . They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world" (17:14, 16). His prayer also reveals their vulnerability--"keep them from the evil one" (17:15)--and their protection-"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (17:17).
That truth, that believers are spiritually alive to God, compels them to live together in unity with other believers in the world as His ambassadors, "that the world may believe that You sent me" (17:21). Eternal life makes that possible. Further, that truth separates believers from those in the world--"The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (17:25-26).
Jesus' prayer offers the following truths about the gift of eternal life and its transforming power:
What does Jesus teach regarding the treatment of believers by the world? About the ministry of the Holy Spirit?
What does Jesus' prayer for His disciples reveal about their allegiance to Him?
The Father loves each believer with the same love that He loves the Son, "that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (Jn. 17:26). What is the basis of that love? How does experiencing that love transform people?
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