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Our Security: Christ’s Concern, John 17: 11, 12, 15

by Nelson Thomas Mumbai

Safety and security were not a serious issue for the common man till recently. In spite of all the developments in the educational, scientific and economic fronts, today man is more worried and frightened than any other period of time in history. Unprecedented natural calamities, political instability and turmoil, the ever rising global terror networks, and now the pandemic, all disturb the sense of security in the heart of man.

In such a world scenario, we need to praise God that a born-again child of God does not need to be worried or perplexed, for our God Himself is concerned about the safety of His people, especially in the spiritual aspect. Notice the repeated request of Christ in His intercessory prayer before He went to the cross.

“Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me… While I was with them I kept them in Your name...…....... I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” John 17: 11, 12, 15

Since the Lord made it clear later (v. 20) that His prayer was not only for the disciples but also for those who will believe in Him later through the testimony of the apostles, these are applicable for you and me. So, we can observe that even today Christ our Lord in heaven is much concerned about our security while we live in this part of eternity.

Empowering Truth
What an encouragement this is to our hearts in the midst of all kinds of uncertainties and mayhem around us; so take heart beloved, we are not defenseless or unprotected!

We see plenty of scripture portions throughout the Bible that reveal this truth. God’s promises of His unfailing presence and protection for the patriarchs in their difficult days, always inspired the people of God. (Gen. 28:15; Deut. 33:27). The Old Testament stories show how the Lord Almighty stood with the people of Israel as their refuge and fortress. David the Psalmist wrote,

“For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle, He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:5
“Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22

The Lord Jesus during His Sermon on the Mount exhorted His followers not to worry about anything, even for the basic human needs like food, clothing and shelter. God our Father knows all our needs and is able to provide much more than how He cares for the animal kingdom. Matthew 6: 25-34; Luke 12; 11

Two aspects of our security

a. Security of salvation.
The Lord Jesus has already spoken in relation to the eternal security of the spirit’s salvation one experiences through faith in Him. They have passed from death to life. No one can pluck them out of the Father’s hand. We are safe in the Lord’s hand. (John 5:24; 10: 28, 29) Our redemption is by grace, and it’s based on the atoning work of Christ on the cross. This seals the issue of our spirit’s salvation and He who began this good work will definitely finish it. (Eph. 1:13; 2:8; Phil. 1:6).

b. Safety in our everyday practical life.
In John 17, Christ refers to our spiritual security in connection with our day-to-day practical life. He kept the apostles during the last three and a half years, taught them, guided them, and now He was leaving, hence the prayer for their safety.

Three dangers:
We understand that the Lord found three enemies the disciples will have to deal with as they continue the work Christ began. (John 17: 18).

i. The world. John 17: 11
He already told them that the world will hate them and persecute them because they are not of this world. (15: 18, 19; 16: 33). The system, the living standard of the world which is controlled by evil forces is not suitable for a believer. (1John 5: 18; Heb. 11: 38)

All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and pride of life is not of the Father and hence it badly influences a Christian. (1John 2: 16) Knowing this reality the Lord Jesus Christ is praying for their wellbeing.

ii. The wicked one. John 17: 15
The devil himself will attack God’s people to destroy their spiritual joy. We know how Satan troubled Job and how he blamed Joshua the High priest. (Job 1 and Zech. 3) Even the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan. (Matt. 4). Paul says that the devil hindered his evangelistic efforts often. (1Thess. 2:18). Using his hosts of evil angels Satan is waging a war against the people of God. Eph. 6: 11, 12. Peter warns that like a roaring lion Satan moves around. 1Peter 5:8.

iii. The flesh. John 11:17b
Here the Lord does not refer to our flesh explicitly. But when He anticipates the possibility of disharmony and inner fighting among the children of God, it was an indirect reference to the sinful nature that is still prevailing in our body. Discord and division in the church is the result of believers living by the flesh.

Thus, the Lord Jesus finds three major reasons why disciples will find it difficult to continue after His departure. This does not mean that they will be defeated, but without the divine help they will be disturbed, affecting their spiritual joy and fruitfulness. So, the Lord is praying to the Father being concerned about their spiritual safety.

Our safety measures:
Often, we see different layers of security arrangements for the protections of very important persons. Similarly, the New Testament reveals that God has set different layers of safety procedures to guard His people.

1. His Spirit. John 14: 16-18
Along with words of comfort and reassurance the Lord promises the apostles of another comforter who will dwell in them to guide and strengthen them in His absence. The indwelling Holy Spirit equips and empowers a child of God. (Acts 1: 8; Rom. 8: 14; 1John 2: 27).

2. His word. John 17: 8
Scripture protects a believer in different ways. Regular reading, meditation and study of God’s word makes one spiritually healthy, strong and even victorious. (1John 2: 14) It comforts, edifies, renews and refreshes us. (1Thess 4:18) The psalmist testifies,

“I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psa. 119: 11)

Paul includes the word of God as part of the whole armor of God which a Christian has to put on because of the spiritual warfare. The Word is the sword of the Spirit. (Eph. 6: 17).

3. His angels. Hebrews 1: 14
We may find it difficult to comprehend, nevertheless the word of God reveals that we are constantly guarded by the angelic beings. We have many instances in the Old Testament as well as New Testament when God’s people enjoyed the ministry of the angels.

David writes from experience, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.” (Psa. 34: 7) Prophet Elisha and servant experienced special protection of the angels when the Syrian army surrounded the city to capture Elisha. (2Kings 6: 14ff.) When Sennacherib the King of Assyria came up against Jerusalem, it was the intervention of an angel of the Lord that brought victory for King Hezekiah. (2Kings 19: 35). God used an angel to shut the mouth of the lion when Daniel was cast in to the den. (Dan. 6: 22)

Such plenty of occasions confirm the ministry of angels for God’s people. When the angels of God were watching over Job and all that he had, the devil saw it as a fence around him. (Job:10) Whether we are aware of it or not, the unseen agents of God are guarding God’s people from all kinds of dangers and diabolic assaults. (cf. Psa. 91: 11; Matt. 18: 10; Acts 12: 7).

4. His presence. Matt. 28: 20
Another safety arrangement for God’s people is the very presence of Christ even to the end of the world. The apostles in their times of crises experienced the very presence of Christ as promised. This realization of His unfailing presence and care took away all fears and inspired them to face persecution with joy and courage. (Mark 16: 20; Acts 7:55; 18: 9; 23: 11; 2Tim. 4: 18, etc.).

5. His people.
The fellowship of God’s people also is a divinely set up facility for mutual edification and encouragement. One of the ministries of local church is for believers to bear the burden of one another. Also, it’s a place for spiritual enlightenment, exhortation, edification, and encouragement. (Gal. 6: 1, 2; Colo. 3: 16, etc.). As part of the body of Christ a believer enjoys special privileges in the congregation, and this includes the Lord’s care and protection. (cf. 1Cor 5: 5, 13).

6. His prayers. John 17: 11, 12, 15
Apart from all the above safety measures for a believer, Christ’s intercessory prayers before the Father also sustains a born-again child of God. As an advocate, He is pleading for us with the Father. (Heb. 9: 24; 1John 2: 1, 2) Remember the basis of His advocacy is His atoning work on the cross. Our Lord’s sufferings and death on the cross procures our salvation, and His high priestly ministry in heaven secures it. (Rom. 5: 10; Heb. 9: 24, 26).

Four things about His prayers:

a. In advance. Luke 22: 31, 32
Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat, but the Lord prayed that his faith may not be affected. This shows that He prays even before we confront the trouble.

b. With compassion. Heb. 4: 15
He is not like the Levitical priests who could not sympathize with the people. Our Lord has gone through all what we suffer, except sin. He knows our frame, limitations and weaknesses. (Psa. 103: 14; Isa 40: 11). His responses to the apostles who slept and even deserted Him, to Peter who denied and to Thomas who doubted prove His consideration for His people. No man can sympathize with us in our weaknesses as our Lord. He is gracious and merciful, the God of all comfort. (2Cor. 1: 3).

c. Continuously. Heb. 7: 24, 25
Because He is living forever, there is no end to His present ministry before the Father. He is not tired or bored by repeatedly praying for us. The uninterrupted, never-ending intercession of Christ ensures our safety. (Psa. 121: 14).

d. Effectively. Heb. 7: 25
The result of such an intercessory prayer is that all who come to Christ will be completely protected. As someone commented, ‘He is able to save one from the gutter-most to the uttermost’.

Our response
After reminding the readers of the High Priestly ministry of Christ today, the writer exhorts them to do two things:

i. Holdfast our confession. Heb. 4: 14
He exhorts them not to be discouraged whatever may be the situation. Be strong in faith and continue to trust the Lord.

ii. Come boldly to the throne of grace. Heb. 4:16
At any time of need we have the privilege to draw near to the Lord. We will find mercy and enough grace for any need. It is at His feet we get all the answers. As the psalmist says, it is always good to draw near to God. Let’s cast all our cares upon Him for He cares for us. (Psa. 73: 28; 1Peter 5:7; Phil. 4: 7).

Conclusion:
What wonderful privilege a believer in Christ has! In spite of all the adverse circumstances around us, we have no need to be worried about tomorrow or even the days ahead. Our well-being is in Christ’s hands. He is concerned about it and made the arrangements too. Let us make use of these safety measures and live for Christ glorifying His great name, whatever state we might be in.

NTK

26/05/2021

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