That they all may be one - This prayer was literally answered to the first believers, who were all of one heart and of one soul: Acts 4:32. And why is it that believers are not in the same spirit now? Because they neither attend to the example nor to the truth of Christ.
That the world may believe - are have already seen that the word, κοσμος, world, is used in several parts of this last discourse of our Lord to signify the Jewish people only.
Christ will have all his members to be one in spirit - one in rights and privileges, and one in the blessedness of the future world.
Thus Christ sought to teach the disciples the truth that in God's kingdom there are no territorial lines, no caste, no aristocracy; that they must go to all nations, bearing to them the message of a Saviour's love. But not until later did they realize in all its fullness that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us.” Acts 17:26, 27. AA 20.1
In these first disciples was presented marked diversity. They were to be the world's teachers, and they represented widely varied types of character. In order successfully to carry forward the work to which they had been called, these men, differing in natural characteristics and in habits of life, needed to come into unity of feeling, thought, and action. This unity it was Christ's object to secure. To this end He sought to bring them into unity with Himself. The burden of His labor for them is expressed in His prayer to His Father, “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us;” “that the world may know that Thou has sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” John 17:21, 23. His constant prayer for them was that they might be sanctified through the truth; and He prayed with assurance, knowing that an Almighty decree had been given before the world was made. He knew that the gospel of the kingdom would be preached to all nations for a witness; He knew that truth armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the battle with evil, and that the bloodstained banner would one day wave triumphantly over His followers. AA 20.2
As Christ's earthly ministry drew to a close, and He realized that He must soon leave His disciples to carry on the work without His personal supervision, He sought to encourage them and to prepare them for the future. He did not deceive them with false hopes. As an open book He read what was to be. He knew He was about to be separated from them, to leave them as sheep among wolves. He knew that they would suffer persecution, that they would be cast out of the synagogues, and would be thrown into prison. He knew that for witnessing to Him as the Messiah, some of them would suffer death. And something of this He told them. In speaking of their future, He was plain and definite, that in their coming trial they might remember His words and be strengthened to believe in Him as the Redeemer. AA 21.1Read in context »
In our business meetings, it is important that precious time should not be consumed in debating points that are of small consequence. The habit of petty criticism should not be indulged, for it perplexes and confuses minds, and shrouds in mystery the things that are most plain and simple. If there is that love among brethren which will lead them to esteem others better than themselves, there will be a giving up of their own ways and wishes to others. It is our duty to study, daily and hourly, how we may answer the prayer of Christ, that His disciples may be one, as He and the Father are one. Precious lessons may be learned by keeping our Saviour's prayer before the mind, and by acting our part to fulfill His desire. GW 447.1
In our business connection with the work of God, and in handling sacred things, we cannot be too careful to guard against a spirit of irreverence; never, for an instant, should the word of God be used deceitfully, to carry a point which we are anxious to see succeed. Honor, integrity, and truth must be preserved at any cost to self. Our every thought, word, and action should be subject to the will of Christ. Levity is not appropriate in meetings where the solemn work and word of God are under consideration. The prayer has been offered that Christ shall preside in the assembly, and impart His wisdom, His grace and righteousness. Is it consistent to take a course that will be grievous to His Spirit and contrary to His work? GW 447.2
Let us bear in mind that Jesus is in our midst. Then an elevating, controlling influence from the Spirit of God will pervade the assembly. There will be manifested that wisdom which is “from above,” which is “first pure, then peaceable, ...full of mercy and good fruits,” [James 3:17.] which cannot err. In all the plans and decisions there will be that charity that “seeketh not her own;” that is “not easily provoked;” that “thinketh no evil;” that “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;” that “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” [1 Corinthians 13:5-7.] GW 448.1Read in context »
We individually have a case pending in the court of heaven. Character is being weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and it should be the earnest desire of all to walk humbly and carefully, lest, neglecting to let their light shine forth to the world, they fail of the grace of God and lose everything that is valuable. All dissension, all differences and faultfinding, should be put away, with all evil speaking and bitterness; kindness, love, and compassion for one another should be cherished, that the prayer of Christ that His disciples might be one as He is one with the Father may be answered. The harmony and unity of the church are the credentials that they present to the world that Jesus is the Son of God. Genuine conversion will ever lead to genuine love for Jesus and for all those for whom He died. 5T 279.1
Everyone who does what he can for God, who is true and earnest to do good to those around him, will receive the blessing of God upon his efforts. A man may render effective service for God although he is not the head or the heart of the body of Christ. The service represented in the word of God by that of the hand or the foot, though lowly, is nevertheless important. It is not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is done, the motive underlying the action, that determines its worth. There is work to be done for our neighbors and for those with whom we associate. We have no liberty to cease our patient, prayerful labors for souls as long as any are out of the ark of safety. There is no release in this war. We are soldiers of Christ, and are under obligation to watch lest the enemy gain the advantage and secure to his service souls that we might win to Christ. 5T 279.2
The day of trust and responsibility is ours; we have a work to do for God. The church in ----- has been gradually growing cold and irreligious. There is much to be done for its individual members. Great light has shone upon their pathway. For this they will be held accountable. Said Christ: “Ye are the light of the world;” “ye are the salt of the earth.” They need a deeper work of grace in their hearts. There must be a reformation before God can bless them. There are plenty of formal professors. A selfish grasping for gain eclipses the heavenly inheritance. If the kingdom of heaven is made first, noble integrity will shine forth in the life and character. This is what Brother A needs if he would exert an influence for good. He loves to handle money, and to see it accumulate by turning it one way and another. His mind and affections are absorbed in worldly enterprises. He is drunken with the cares of this life; that is, he is so swallowed up in his business that he cannot think rationally and intelligently of the things of God; his vision is obscured by love of money. The truth should reach down deep into his heart and develop fruit in his private and public life. 5T 280.1Read in context »
Thus will the truth be brought into practical life, and thus will be answered the prayer of Christ, uttered just before His humiliation and death: “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.” John 17:21. The love of Christ, the love of our brethren, will testify to the world that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. Then will the message of the third angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord. 6T 401.1
Our convictions need daily to be reinforced by humble, sincere prayer and reading of the word. While we each have an individuality, while we each should hold our convictions firmly, we must hold them as God's truth and in the strength which God imparts. If we do not, they will be wrung from our grasp. 6T 401.2Read in context »
Let the writers for our periodicals dwell as little as possible upon the objections or arguments of opponents. In all our work we are to meet falsehood with truth. Put truth against all personal hints, references, or insults. Deal only in the currency of heaven. Make use only of that which bears God's image and superscription. Press in truth, new and convincing, to undermine and cut away error. 7T 156.1
God wants us to be always calm and forbearing. Whatever course others may pursue, we are to represent Christ, doing as He would do under similar circumstances. Our Saviour's power lay not in a strong array of sharp words. It was His gentleness, His unselfish, unassuming spirit, that made Him a conqueror of hearts. The secret of our success lies in revealing the same spirit. 7T 156.2Read in context »
The Lord desires His chosen servants to learn how to unite together in harmonious effort. It may seem to some that the contrast between their gifts and the gifts of a fellow laborer is too great to allow them to unite in harmonious effort; but when they remember that there are varied minds to be reached, and that some will reject the truth as it is presented by one laborer, only to open their hearts to God's truth as it is presented in a different manner by another laborer, they will hopefully endeavor to labor together in unity. Their talents, however diverse, may all be under the control of the same Spirit. In every word and act, kindness and love will be revealed; and as each worker fills his appointed place faithfully, the prayer of Christ for the unity of His followers will be answered, and the world will know that these are His disciples. 9T 145.1
In loving sympathy and confidence God's workers are to unite with one another. He who says or does anything that tends to separate the members of Christ's church is counterworking the Lord's purpose. Wrangling and dissension in the church, the encouragement of suspicion and unbelief, are dishonoring to Christ. God desires His servants to cultivate Christian affection for one another. True religion unites hearts not only with Christ, but with one another in a most tender union. When we know what it means to be thus united with Christ and with our brethren, a fragrant influence will attend our work wherever we go. 9T 145.2
The workers in the large cities must act their several parts, making every effort to bring about the best results. They are to talk faith and to act in such a way as to impress the people. They are not to narrow the work down to their own particular ideas. In the past too much of this has been done by us as a people, and it has been a drawback to the success of the work. Let us remember that the Lord has different ways of working, that He has different workmen to whom He entrusts different gifts. We are to see His purpose in the sending of certain men to certain places. 9T 145.3Read in context »