37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.” (John 18:37–38, NKJV)
The Truth was standing before him, and still Pilate questioned whether truth even existed! So it still is. Jesus is the embodiment of truth, His voice always spoke truth, and His life always lived truth. There was no fault in Him at all. Although we live in a world that says truth is relative, fluctuating and subjective, that is not at all what Jesus said. Truth is real. Truth is definable. Truth can be known, and truth can be lived (Jno. 8:31-32). The problem does not lie with the truth, but with hearts that will not bend, be shaped and molded by the truth. Like Pilate, the decision is ours. We can defy the truth, or, we can listen to the voice of Jesus. The former brings death, the latter gives life (Jno. 1:17; 14:6).
20 I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20–21, NKJV)
Jesus prayed for unity among believers. He is clear and succinct concerning the nature of that unity; “as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us.” There is no separation between the Father and the Son, no “agreeing to disagree” over revealed truth. There is no denominating the Father and the Son by name or any other measure of distinction. Why then, are many people convinced such things constitute unity, when demonstrably, they define division? Perhaps one reason is the unique failure to define unity on the basis of “their word” (the word of the apostles, v. 20). The same word that produces believers defines the unity of believers. There is “one faith” (Eph. 4:5). By it we are brought to faith in Christ, and by it we are all able to “be one” as the Father and Son are one (Rom. 1:16-17). Settling for anything less is not the unity for which Jesus prayed.
6 “For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. 7 Yet from the days of your fathers You have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’” (Malachi 3:6–7, NKJV)
The nature of God is marked by immutability. By contrast, Israel had changed time and again, turning away from and disobeying God’s law. Yet still, God called them to return, and if they would do so, He would forgive them. God’s unchanging nature includes His constant willingness to forgive. Our passage shows that God’s unchanging nature also includes the fact that He always keeps His word. He kept His word to not completely consume Israel for her sins (Jer. 30:11). Yet, Israel continued to act as if she had done nothing wrong, turning away from the Lord. God would judge their pride (Mal. 4:1). We must not think that because “God is love” He is not also a God of truth and justice. He calls sinners to repent. He is ready to forgive. And, He will judge those who refuse Him. He does not change.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us… (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV)
Because God is omnipotent, our prayers ought to acknowledge this essential attribute of His deity. Faith in His power should influence how we pray. God can bring to pass whatever He chooses is consistent with His will (1 Jno. 5:14-15). Although God has limited Himself with regard to present-day miracles, He still works providentially. Therefore, let us make sure we pray to God like He is God, not like He is a man. Ask for the things that seem impossible to us, pray for the things that our power alone could never bring to pass. By doing this, we treat God like the God that He is: “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
15 And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. 17 Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. (2 Chronicles 36:15–17, NKJV)
God’s compassion moved Him to warn Jerusalem and Judah of their sins. Early and often His servants, the prophets, spoke truth to a people who mocked them and refused God’s word. And so, God’s wrath fell upon Jerusalem and Judah by the hands of the Chaldeans (Babylonians). Now, by the gospel, God is calling sinners to repent and be saved from eternal wrath. Do not reject the gospel like Judah rejected the prophets. By despising God’s word, you are storing up wrath for yourself that will be unleashed without compassion on the day of judgment (Rom. 2:4-6). In Christ, God’s compassion is available now. Let God’s goodness lead you to repentance.
27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. (Philippians 1:27–28, NKJV)
Our lives must be worthy of the gospel of Christ. How we live is to reflect that we are citizens of heaven even while we live on this earth (Phil. 3:20). We cannot hold the values of the world, make decisions like the world, and practice the sins of the world, without in fact being of the world (1 Jno. 2:15-17; Jas. 4:4). A life lived “worthy of the gospel” stands steadfast, united in spirit and fully engaged in the struggle for the faith of the gospel. With boldness and not fear, let us persevere in the face of every adversary who opposes the salvation God assures us in Christ.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:7–11, NKJV)
The Holy Spirit is “the Helper” Jesus promised to send to His apostles, who would “guide them into all truth” (Jno. 16:13). Jesus kept His promise on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1-4). By the preaching of the apostles, the Holy Spirit began convicting the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. By their word, the Spirit of God convicted the audience of their sin (“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,” Acts 2:37). He convinced them how to become servants of righteousness (“repent,…and be baptized,” Acts 2:38). And, he convinced them of judgment (“save yourselves,” Acts 2:40, ESV). The Holy Spirit continues to convict the world by the inspired message of the apostles, and by it, to save those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21).