The Love of God In And Through Us – John 17:25-26

The Love of God In And Through Us

Nick Esch, 9/2/2018 Cornerstone Baptist Church

John 17:25-26

Here we see Jesus closing out His High Priestly prayer for His people… For us… And He does it by summarizing His whole prayer thus far… So far He’s prayed for glory, for holiness, for unity, for knowledge, for mission, and for love; and here He prays for all of those things for us again, while at the same time taking us deeper into these things… So let’s look at what He says…  

Jesus begins by addressing the Father as righteous. In verse 25 He says, “O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.” Now, why would Jesus specifically address Him this way? Well, we can see a couple of reasons in our text… First, here He refers to His being sent by the Father, referring to His mission to come to seek and to save the lost through His life, death, and resurrection… And the time for His death is here… He’s praying just a few hours before He will be falsely accused, mocked, ridiculed, beaten, and nailed to a cross… But, this is all a part of God’s grand plan of redemption… Though it will be sinful men who do Him harm and kill Him, ultimately, as Isaiah 53:10 says, it was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put him to grief; because in so doing Jesus gives Himself as an offering for guilt… And so Jesus wants us all to know that the Father is righteous, and He is righteous in doing this… He wants His disciples there with Him, especially, to remember as He heads to the cross that the Father is righteous; He’s sovereign and good…

The doctrine of God’s good sovereignty is easy to believe when things are going well, but Jesus wants His disciples to believe it even when the world seems to be falling apart around them… And if Jesus, who is perfect, can still wholeheartedly proclaim that God is righteous—even in the face of suffering, even in the face of horrific suffering—how much more should we who are sinners be able to proclaim with our whole hearts, like Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…”? We must trust in God’s good sovereignty come what may… We must trust that He is righteous, no matter what we lack or what may befall us… As John Newton once said, “Everything is needful that He sends; nothing can be needful that He withholds…” In other words, we need to trust that God is good all of the time, and all of the time God is good… We may not always be able to see it; we may not always know why God is allowing us to suffer in one way or another… But we don’t have to know… We just have to be faithful; so as 1 Peter 4:19 says, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” He is faithful, He is good, He is righteous… So let us rest in His righteousness and walk in faithfulness…

But suffering in this life isn’t the only reason people sometimes question the righteousness of God… Jesus says here that the world does not know God; and by that He means that they are not in communion with God because they have not been made right with God by grace through faith in Christ… And some get hung up on this… They don’t see how God can be sovereign, good and righteous, and ordain that people would go to hell… This is the argument that Paul addresses in Romans 9:14-15 when He says, “What shall we say then? Is there injustice (or unrighteousness) on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’” The quote that Paul is referencing there is from Exodus 33 where Moses asks God to have mercy on the people of Israel and to show him His glory if he has found favor in His sight… And God tells Him that He will allow Him to get a glimpse of His glory, because he has indeed found favor in God’s sight; but then He says, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” In other words, God tells Moses that He’s not going to show mercy to everyone… To some He will show wrath… And this is still the case today…

So Paul asks in Romans 9, is there then injustice, or unrighteous on God’s part… And the answer has to be no… Over and over again we’re told in God’s Word that God is righteous… The Psalmist tells us, “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous” (Psalm 116:5)… “Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules” (Psalm 119:137)… In fact, we know what righteousness is because of who God is… God never simply does what is right; it’s right because God does it… He is the very essence of what righteousness is… That’s why we’re told in Romans 3:21-22 and 1 Corinthians 1:30, that the righteousness of God has been manifested in Jesus Christ… In other words, He makes known God’s righteousness to us because He Himself is God in the flesh… “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3)…

And, you see, this is important; before Paul addresses this idea of God possibly being unrighteous because He doesn’t save everyone, in Romans 3 He addresses the idea of God possibly being unrighteous because He saves anyone… He says we all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God and therefore we all deserve hell… Yet God shows grace and mercy to whom He chooses… If we deserve eternal wrath for our sin, how can God give us grace and mercy and still be just; how can He forgive our sins and still be righteous?… I mean, if a judge here in Texas were to let everyone off the hook who says they are sorry, or promises to do better, that judge would be unjust… He’d be impeached because he’s not upholding justice… Justice demands that we pay for our crimes… Well, if that’s true on an earthly level, how much more so for the God of the universe?…

So how can God give sinners who deserve hell, mercy and grace instead, and still be just? Well, God’s Word tells us… He can do this, “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26)… So the question isn’t, how can God be righteous if He doesn’t save everyone?… The question is, how can God be righteous if He saves anyone?… And the answer is Jesus…

You see, beloved, God doesn’t just overlook your sin, or give you a mulligan… You’re not just forgiven; you’re redeemed by the blood of Jesus… It’s by grace through faith in the person and work of Jesus—in His perfect life, sacrificial death, and death defeating resurrection—that we are saved… So God is righteous because sin does not go unpunished; but in His mercy and grace the punishment fell on Jesus instead of His people… The wrath due our sin didn’t merely go away; it fell upon Jesus on the cross… That’s how God shows His righteousness through this… He doesn’t just let us off the hook; Jesus gets on the hook in our place, and endures the eternal wrath of God for all who would turn from their sin and trust in Him… God is shown to be righteous in and through the cross; and not only that, Jesus gives us His righteousness in and through the cross… “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21)…

And this only happens in Christianity… Many other religions claim to worship the one true God; many other religions claim to be pathways to God, and to tell us how to work our way up to God… But only in Christianity do you have God coming down to us, and living, dying, and rising again to save us… Only in Christianity do we have the true Jesus who is the Son of God and the Savior of the world… And that’s the key right there… We need a Savior! We need a righteousness that is not our own… And in Jesus we have it… If Christianity is not true there is no way to be made right with God; if Christianity isn’t true there is no hope… But it is! Jesus is the Savior!

God is a righteous God… He has mercy and grace on whomever He wills, and because of Jesus He’s just and right to do so… He never lets mere sinners into glory, but only those covered in the righteousness of Christ… But, because He’s infinitely holy and perfectly good, He’s also just and right to send any and all sinners to hell… And also, because God is righteous, because He’s good and sovereign—as we sang earlier—whatever He ordains is right… No doubt, the cross of Christ and everything surrounding it was horrific for the disciples; but now we see the cross as our only hope… An instrument of torture has become an instrument of the greatest good—an instrument of grace… And that pattern still works in our lives today; that’s why Jesus reminds us that God is righteous… Whether He brings us suffering or prosperity… Because He is righteous we can rest in the truth, “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)…

We can take Jesus’ word on this because, as He says here, He knows the Father… In fact as we have seen, Jesus and the Father have known and loved one another forever… So Jesus knows the Father perfectly; and though the world does not know Him, in His grace He has seen fit to pull sinners like you and me out of the world and make Himself known to us… And the God whom we have come to know, and are seeking to know all the more is righteous and good in every way… He would be good even if He never saved anyone; but He does… As Jesus says here in verse 25, we know that the Father has sent Jesus; and better still, we know why… As John says in 1 John 4:10, God, “loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” He came to be the atoning sacrifice, or the means of forgiveness for sinners… He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28)… He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10)… Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15)… Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace! Praise the Lord for His mission to save sinners… And this mission is tied to what we see next…

In verse 26 Jesus says, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Throughout this prayer Jesus has mentioned the name of God a few times, and each time He’s referring to the nature and character of God, especially as it is revealed in the gospel… And here it’s no different, but this time, because He calls God the righteous Father, he ties the name directly to the righteousness of God… Jesus has made the righteous name of God known to us, and we have seen that no one is righteous but God alone; and therefore our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness… In saying that He has made known the name of God to His people, He’s saying that He has opened our eyes to the truth of the gospel… And He will continue to do so all the more…

Here Jesus means at least two things when He says that He will continue to make known the name of God… He will make it known to more and more people, pulling people out of the world and into the church… Saving them from sin and wrath, and leading them to glory… And He will make it known all the more to His people, causing us to grow in the knowledge of God and the gospel… He’s already told us how He’ll do this. Earlier in John 16:13 He said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide [us] into all the truth…” And here in this prayer, He asks the Father to sanctify us in the truth of His Word (John 17:17)… So, Jesus is saying that He will, through the power of the Holy Spirit, make known to us all the more the truth of God’s nature and character, the truth of His gospel, the truth of His Word… Now, many think there’s no need for such a thing: for theology and doctrine… They just want practical advice… But notice what Jesus says here…

Look at the last part of verse 26: Jesus says that the reason He’s going to make these things known to us all the more is so that the love with which the Father has loved Jesus may be in us, and He in us… He’s already prayed that we would be in the Father’s love where He is, and now He’s praying that the very love of the Trinity would be in us, and that He Himself would be in us… Here, He’s not praying that we’d be objects of God’s love—for we already are—but that we would be so transformed, as God is continually made known to us, that God’s own love for His Son would become our love… So He’s praying that we’d be transformed into supernaturally loving people…

Do you see how practical this is? What we see here is that theology and doctrine, that the very gospel itself is what transforms us more and more into loving people… And that’s because, as we saw last week, as we behold the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ in the gospel, we’re transformed more and more into the same image… In other words, the more we know God in Christ the more like Christ we become… The more amazed we are by the love of God the more loving we become… The more the love of the Trinity takes root in us the more we will forsake sin and live holy, gracious, just, and loving lives… It doesn’t get any more practical than this… And this tells us that mere practical advice, where someone gives us a list of DOs and DON’Ts is not enough… We need Jesus… We need the truth of God’s Word… We need the Holy Spirit to transform us through the saving and sanctifying power of the gospel… Many emphasize the importance or love in our day; and they are right to do so… But, many often do so in a way that seeks to set aside truth, or says that we can’t truly be loving and stand firm on the truth of God’s Word… But Jesus is here telling us that the only way to truly be loving is to stand firm in and on God’s truth… It’s the truth of the gospel that makes us loving…

So, I said a minute ago that Jesus means at least two things when He says that He will continue to make known the name of God… He will make it known to more and more people, for their salvation, and He will make it known all the more to His people, for our sanctification: causing us to grow in the knowledge of God and the gospel… And here we see that growth in that knowledge leads to growth in godly love… And this ties back to Jesus making God’s name known for the purpose of salvation… Because as Jesus has already said, all people will know that we are His disciples by our love for one another (John 13:35)… And that’s because Christian love is a supernatural love…

Paul says in Romans 5:5 that, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us…” When God opens our eyes to the glory of Christ in the gospel, and by grace through faith in Christ we become Christians and are saved from our sins, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us… And with Him He brings the love of God, along with the peace of God… That’s actually where Christian unity comes from: as Paul says, it’s the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3)… In love, Jesus reconciles us to God and to one another through the cross, bringing peace and unity… And the Spirit pours this love into our hearts and lives, applying it to us, and enabling us to be truly loving as well… So God gives us His love and Himself in and through the Spirit… And that’s actually covenantal language… Like how God often says that He will be our God and we will be His people; here He’s saying He and His love will be in us… And that love will make us stand out as His people in this world… Again, as Jesus said, that’s how the world will know that we are His people; by our love; or better yet, by God’s love in and through us…

Now think about that… What does the love that the Father has for Jesus look like? And, what’s it look like in us? Well, remember what we saw last week when Jesus spoke of how the Father has loved Him for all eternity… We saw that saying that the Father loves Jesus is really no different than saying that God loves His glory, because Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God; it is in the face of Jesus that we see the glory of God… Over and over again in Scripture God declares that He is all about His glory, and in doing so He’s really saying that He’s all about Jesus… He delights to make much of Jesus… And in loving Jesus He magnifies His glory… That said, for us to have this love in us and live it out means that we live for His glory above all else… We live to make much of Jesus by living for Jesus and like Jesus… It means, as Paul writes in Ephesians 5:1-2, that we’ll, “be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” So, it means our lives will be marked by sacrificial love for the glory of God and the good of others… Especially the eternal good of others…

So this prayer is once again a call to mission… In it Jesus is asking the Father to embolden and empower us to leverage our lives for His glory and the salvation and sanctification of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation… When Jesus says that the world doesn’t know God, He means on the one hand, sinful humanity in general… Those who are in rebellion against God (which is everyone by nature)… And on the other hand, He means people from all around the world; people from every nation and generation… It’s the people for whom Christ died, as Revelation 5:9 lays out… There it says that Jesus was slain, and by His blood He ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation… So, sinners from all walks of life; black and white and everything in between; old and young; rich and poor; every generation and every nation… So right now there are people who don’t know God, all throughout the world… And Jesus is here praying that God would use us to change that… That by our love they would see the truthfulness of the gospel and would turn from their sin, trust in, and follow Jesus… That as we pour ourselves out in sacrificial love, rooted in and saturated with the truth of God’s Word, because of our love for Jesus and His love for us (1 John 4:19), that we would lead people to Christ and help them follow Christ and grow in Christ… This is simply what God’s covenant people do…

We are people of truth and people of love… God’s love… Again, we can’t emphasize one without the other… But just as there are many today who are emphasizing love without truth, so there are many who emphasize truth without love… And this is equally wrong… James Boice points out that so many of the attributes that Jesus prays for in John 17 for the church are worthless without love. For instance joy without love is hedonism… When we pursue joy without love we sinfully pursue happiness at all cost, hurting ourselves and others… Or take holiness for instance; holiness without love is self-righteousness… That’s when we think we’re holier than thou, right… This was the Pharisee’s problem… Holiness without love is legalism… It’s hypocrisy to pursue holiness without love; because true holiness is loving… Or take unity; unity without love is uniformity, where we require everyone to be just like us… We make ourselves the standard of holiness instead of Jesus… And this too is what the Pharisees did… Beloved, a Christian without love is simply not a Christian; we cannot truly follow Christ and live for Christ if we aren’t loving…

As Paul said, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. . . . So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:1-7, 13)…

If we are truly a part of God’s covenant people, the church, the love of God must be in us… And see also, that the love of God commissions us to go and love… It goes into us and works through us… And as we love with the love of God, we are to love in such a way that we show that Christ is our greatest love… And we do that by sacrificially loving others just as Christ has loved us… We do that by pointing people to Jesus in all of His glory… We do this by loving our neighbor and doing people good in whatever way we can, but especially by helping them come to know Jesus, love Jesus, and live for Jesus…

Essentially what it looks for the love of God to be in us and flow through us is exactly what it looks like to be a faithful church member… We should leverage our lives—meaning using everything we are, everywhere we go, everything we do, and everything we have—for the glory of Jesus by seeking to help others come to know Him and grow in Him; in other words, we should leverage our lives for the cause of making disciples… That’s what true love looks like… We should open our lives, open our homes, open our schedules, open our wallets, and do everything we can to get people to see and embrace the love of God in Christ Jesus… We should be committed to desperate prayer, to joyful sacrificial giving, as well as sacrificial service, and be utterly committed to going and taking the gospel to as many as possible… That’s Jesus prayer for all believers throughout all time… And that tells us that this is just what the basic Christian life looks like… It’s what Jesus’ life looked like, and Christians are by definition followers of Jesus…

Conclusion

Jesus has made God’s name known to us; and here He says that He will continue to make it known… And part of the way He’ll make God’s name known is in and through His people… As Christians we are all called to pour out our lives for the fame of the name… We are to live to make much of Jesus… So what we need to ask ourselves is, what are we living for?… We always make time for the things we want and love… We’re always willing to sacrifice for the things we love… So, as you evaluate your life, what does your life say you love? Where are you spending your time? What are you spending your money own? What are you using your home and your possessions for? What are you pouring your efforts into? There are many things we must do, and many good things we should do; but the ultimate thing we should be giving our lives to is making much of Jesus… And after all, He loved us and gave Himself for us, and He is to be our greatest love… So evaluate your life, and if you find you are lacking this love, look to Jesus once again, and be amazed at all that He is and all that He makes known to us, and let that drive you to repent and to give yourself to a life of love, for the glory of God and the good of His people… God is righteous; He is sovereign and good… If we can trust Him with our souls, we can surely trust Him with our lives… So may the Lord enable us all to live lives of love for the praise of His name; for without love we are nothing…