Unity – Gospel in Life


Tim Keller |  June 18, 2017

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John 17:20-23
RS 379-07


John 17 is the “great prayer” of Jesus— his prayer for his disciples before he goes to die on the cross. In this prayer, Jesus very directly prays for both his current disciples and his future disciples— the Church. The main thing Jesus asks for is that his disciples be joined in loving unity. This sermon will examine what it means to be united by the love of God in Christ.

Sermon Summary

Jesus’ prayer in John 17 reveals his deep desire for unity among all believers, mirroring the unity he shares with the Father. This unity is not only for the believers’ benefit but also serves as a testament to the world of the Father’s divine mission. The profound impact of this unity on our witness to the world accentuates its vital importance.

1. What complete unity is

Christian unity transcends organizational structures and social or ethnic backgrounds, reflecting the multi-ethnic origins of the faith and the universal salvation offered by Jesus. The transformative power of the Gospel reshapes identities, fostering a sense of oneness across social classes and political divides, and shifting focus from worldly concerns to shared experiences and comprehension. Within this unified community, believers practice mutual support, truth-telling, reconciliation, and a shared life that embraces both failure and unity.

2. Why it is important

The essence of Jesus’ teachings reinforces the necessity of a Christian community characterized by extraordinary love, so profound that it transcends worldly comprehension, thereby validating the Gospel’s truth. The honor of Jesus’ name is mirrored in the quality of this community, and any negative behaviors such as gossip or selfishness tarnish this image. However, the Gospel and Christ provide the means to cultivate such a community, rooted in the transformative perception and belief in God’s love for us, equal to His love for His Son, which revolutionizes our relationships.

3. How we get it

Salvation is not a reward for good deeds but a gift received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose righteousness becomes ours when we believe in Him. This grace allows us to love others without judgment or self-righteousness, and calls us to humility, a process that can be painful as it requires the removal of our own self-righteousness. The story of Ruby Turpin in Flannery O’Connor’s “Revelation” illustrates how God can humble even the self-righteous, revealing the Gospel to them, and the importance of gratitude for God’s grace and unity among believers.



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