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Christ's desire for my soul

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·         Ramy Evening 02-07-06                                Bible Reading John 17

·         Theme – Christ's desire for our souls John 17:24

·         Intro

·         Jesus is coming to the end of his life – these are some of his last words to the disciples before the events of the cross.

·         Throughout this chapter he has been preparing and encouraging the disciples for what lies ahead.

·         He reminds them of those things he has done for them while he was with them; he also reveals those things that are his by divine right but he has shared with them in order that they may continue in the work of the gospel when he has gone.

·         We can see what Christ has shared with them: -

·         V13. His Joy

·         V14. The Word

·         V15. His Fathers Protection

·         V16. His Association with us

·         V18. His like commission – we are sent like he was

·         V19. His life so that we can be saved and sanctified

·         V21. His unity

·         V22. His brotherhood we are joint heirs with him

·         V23. His fathers love

·         When we get to V.24 he now wants to add one last thing to this list but it would be one that would never be fully realised in this life.

·         Again it is something he wants to share with them, but this time after death, or after he has returned and judged the world.

·         24 ¶  "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

·         Christ here has a desire, and that is that we might be with him in heaven, and that when we are there we might see him as he really is.

·         Only on the mount of transfiguration had they seen anything of the glory of Christ, but this was only a shadow of the glory he would receive from his father after the cross.

·         This he prays to his father, he wants us to experience as well, and has a desire that we will be with him in heaven.

·         This evening let us look at this desire, and Christ’s request that when we die we share heaven with him.

·         Our Desire – let us first look at this desire for heaven

·         BBC interview where they where looking at what is mans greatest desire - three psychologists, Jung, Freud, and Adler. For Freud, man's greatest desire is for sex. For Adler, its power. For Jung however, man's greatest desire is for immortality, to live forever.

·         What happens after death and where will I be is probably the question that has crossed every ones mind at some time or other, when we have suffered or witnessed a serious illness, or when someone we know has died.

·         I am sure for most people it is their desire to go to heaven; it is something that we would all want.

·         We all would like to know and understand that our eternal future is safe and secure; we all would like to think that when death has taken us and we stand before God and are judged by his divine standard we will be accepted by him into heaven.

·         We would all like to have that assurance that nothing will stop this from happening that we are not living in hope; hoping at the end of our lives that God looks at what we have done and finds it acceptable.

·         If you have read anything of scripture, or understand anything of what Christ taught we should realise that the consequences for falling into the hands of a holy God, will only bring us trouble.

·         It was Jesus who told us more about hell, about what the punishment for sin is than any other writer in the bible. He spoke often regarding the judgement man faced for the way he lives his life.

·         So I am sure from a genuine concern for our eternal security we all would desire to go to heaven – if that is going to be a reality is another thing.

·         When we use the word desire for us it means - longing, craving, yearning an aspiration

·         But it also has an element of doubt attached to it, like a child wanting a new toy from their parents, they long for it, they crave it, they yearn for it, they will pester and nag for it, but they are reliant on the goodness of others to get it.

·         We can yearn and crave and desire heaven all our lives but it does not mean we will get it.

·         Sometimes we endeavour in our own efforts to get something, we have a strong desire for it, but often the reality is that it is like a dream, it was never something we could obtain or get.

·         We could never get what we want because it is beyond our control, outside of our abilities to obtain it; we have not the necessary means to purchase it. It is beyond our grasp – like the child we live in hope that we will get it.

·         This is the attitude for the most of the world, they live in hope, they have a desire to get to heaven, but the reality is that it is just a hope, (an element of doubt attached to it) they presume upon God accepting them for what they have done.

·         Unfortunately it is a fool’s hope, it is a false hope, though in all sincerity they might desire it; in and of themselves they are unable to attain it.

·         Paul  & Moses Desire

·         We can look at two examples from scripture, two men who understood this, thousands of years separated these men but they both had the same desire, but this time it was not that they get to heaven but that others might go in their place.

·         But these where frustrated requests because they both understood that there was only one way it had to be God’s way.

·         Paul and Moses both understood that in our sin, in our present condition we would not be allowed into heaven, they understood this for themselves they understood this also for their fellow country men.

·         Both Paul and Moses had a desire that there fellow countrymen would be  accepted by God, but they both understood that this was not possible

·         In fact their desire was so great they both were prepared to sacrifice their own eternal security in exchange for their fellow countrymen, and even though this was a sincere gesture they both also knew that this was a vain thing. Even such an offer though noble in itself was in reality of no real value to God.

·         Paul writing to the Romans 8 at the end of chapter he is summing up the safety and security we have in Christ and Christ alone. Nothing can separate him from his saviour.

·         He goes into chapter 9 with this in mind and straight away his concern is for his fellow countrymen,(who have not this security)  he says that before Christ, and the Spirit that knows my conscience I wish (desire) that my fellow countrymen be saved.

·         He says that he would be prepared to forgo his own salvation for their sakes; he was prepared to be cursed by God so that they could be forgiven.

·         Roman 8:38 – 9:3 

·         Paul understood and knew that even though he had this great desire it was not enough, they would never and could never be accepted by God unless they came through Christ.

·         His dilemma was that they had rejected the Christ and so rejected there only means of forgiveness.

·         Moses had a similar experience when he was up on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments; because he had taken a long time and was delayed the people turned to their old ways and made an idol out of gold and started to worship it.

·         God saw this sent Moses back down the mount and 3000 people died in judgement that day.

·         Moses understood how angry God was and decided that he would plead to God on their behalf,

·         Exodus 32:30 - 33

·         And again we see Moses like Paul willing to exchange his life for the eternal security of his fellow brethren.

·         Moses had the same desire that those whom he loved his brethren be saved like he was, and be with him in heaven, but no matter how strong a desire it was it would not be enough.

·         It did not stop God from punishing those that had worshipped the golden calf, they were not only killed but also lost all eternal security, and they were blotted out of the book of God.

·         So it may be our desire to get to heaven and it may be others desire that we get there but at the moment we are struggling to get their in our own strength– we must as the question why can we not – what is stopping us.

·         God’s Desire – this is what is stopping us

·         God has laid down two conditions for you and I to be accepted into his heaven, firstly you need to be absolutely perfect, so that you cannot defile it, and secondly you need to be in the lambs book of life.

·         This is God's desire for heaven, and because he is God, he is not limited like us; there is no element of doubt attached to the desire of God. His desire is his law.

·         Rev 20 vs. 11 – Cht 21 vs. 8 – here we have a vision of that day God has set aside for all of us – his judgement day when man will stand before God and either be accepted or rejected. Read

·         Rev 21: vs. 9 - 26 – John is given a vision of Heaven, the New Jerusalem and is shown in some detail its construction.

·         But when we get to vs. 27 we see the conditions set down by God, this is how you are to enter his Holy city.

·         Revelation 21:27  But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

·         This is his desire for those who will be accepted, if you and I want to enter this eternal city, we can only be accepted by being perfect and by being written in the lambs’ book of life.

·         This is the will and desire of a sovereign God, this is how it has always been and will always be.

·         So we might desire heaven with every once of strength, there might be others that desire it for us and they may even be prepared to give up what they have in exchange for us, but we can only get there God’s way.

·         Christ's desire

·         24 ¶  "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

·         Here in this verse we see Christ's desire for us, he prays to his father and reveals to us that it is his desire that we be where he is, this is his request.

·         Father there are those that you have given me, and it is my desire that they be with me in heaven, I want them to not only see my glory, but father I want them to share in it as well.

·         So if we apply the information that we already know, we desire to be in heaven, Moses and Paul understood the need to be in heaven and want us to be there also, Christ himself wants us to be in heaven, and yet we know that only those who are perfect and are written in the lambs’ book of life will get to heaven.

·         So was this a false desire by Christ, was it just a wish that has an element of doubt attached to it, he really had no real control over it, he had a longing and a craving that the disciples and so us today might be with him in heaven and yet no real control over the matter.

·         Christ is actually praying this prayer as though the cross is finished, as though he has been raised form the dead and ascended up to heaven, he is praying as though he is seated at God's right hand and crowned in glory and yet he was still hours away from the cross.

·         He had not been to the garden, he had not been on trail before Herod and Pilate, they had not scourged him, or nailed him to a cross, he had not died, rose again and lived among them for 40 days, but yet he prays this as though he is there experiencing the glory of heaven, and wants us to share in it as well.

·         Because he is in heaven in this prayer his desire is that we are there as well. How do we balance this? How can Christ pray this and have us be with him in heaven and still meets the requirements of his father.

·         The clue is in this word desire! We need to examine it a little more; in our language we understand that it means a strong craving or yearning.

·         But the word that is used here for desire has a stronger meaning than we would normally attach to it – the Av translates this verse as - ¶ Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

·         1 to will, have in mind, intend. 1a to be resolved or determined, to purpose.  

·         The element of doubt has now been removed, along side this saying is a certainty and an assurance that those whom God had given Christ – he was going to make sure would be with him in heaven.

·         This is what he intended to do, he purposed this, he resolved himself to do this, he was determined that all those written in the lambs book of life would be with him in glory.

·         There was nothing that was going to stop Christ for securing heaven for these people, not a betrayal and a denial, not a mock trial and a roman flogging, not a beating and plucking out of his beard, not a roman cross and three rusty pieces of steel. Not the mocking and scorn of the crowd.

·         Not even the turning away of his father, the judgement of God for sin, not even the giving of his own life.

·         He set his face like a flint and nothing was going to distract this determination from him to secure our salvation.

·         Not for the disciples then not for us today 2000 years later.

·         He is still praying this prayer, today as we speak this is still his intention – his desire is for us to be with him. This is where he wants you to be, this is where he wants me to be, by his side in glory.

·         And nothing will stop this from happening, as we read earlier from the apostle Paul in Romans he was persuaded that there was nothing that could separate him from Christ – we are eternally secure in the hand of God.

·         This should give us confidence and assurance – Christ is determined to save your soul and bring you and me into his kingdom.

·         You have all the attributes of the sovereign eternal God securing your eternal salvation, and as Christ is praying this prayer in his minds eye he has pictured you there with him in heaven.

·         He has seen me there by his side sharing with him in that glorious place – he can do that because he is the only one who can obtain it for me.

·         If I think I could obtain this myself it would be vanity, just like the world it would be presumption, it would be foolish.

·         But Christ can say this because he is the saviour, he is the messiah, he is God in mans flesh, redeeming us from the curse of the law, reconciling us back to God, he is the Lamb of God, it is his book.

·         I might desire it but I cannot obtain it myself, I might be like Paul and Moses and understand how essential it is but no one else can give it to me – only in Christ can I find it.

·         As Peter understood - John 6: 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

·         69  "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." -  Lord you are the lamb and it is your book – to whom shall we go.

·         Christ could make this statement – because over the next few hours his actions would back everything he said in this prayer.

·         Through his death and the shedding of his blood he would purchase our salvation, and our eternal security.

·         Through his perfect life being a substitute for my sinful life, and through his death paying for my judgement and dying for my sin.

·         Through my faith in believing this and accepting Christ as my Lord and saviour, God can clothe me with his righteousness.

·         So that in the eyes of God I meet all his requirements for heaven - I am perfect in Christ, I am perfect in his righteousness, I have been given to the Son and he has put my name in his book of life.

·         As he finishes this prayer he is only a very short time away from when it would all be complete. The final pieces of the jigsaw were being put in place so that we could be accepted into heaven.

·         Christ was moving his chess pieces into position so that through his death on the cross the victory over the world, sin, death and the devil would be complete.

·         So that he could say I am determined that they be with me in glory.

·         Heb 12:2 - looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

·         We owe everything to Christ, as the writer says he is the “author and finisher of our faith”, he is the sum of our faith, he is the subject and substance of our faith, without Christ we have nothing, but with him we have everything

·         Without Christ we live in vanity, with false hopes for our eternal future.

·         With him we can have the assurance that our eternal security is not left to our own efforts but is secure in him.

·         Application –

·         Earlier that evening Christ had said to them “ I am the way the truth and the life no ones comes to the father except through me”

·         What are you putting your hope in, yourself, this world, the wisdom of man, the knowledge of man, the understanding of man?

·         Or are you burying your head in the sand because you do not want to face the truth that one day you will have to answer to God.

·         E.G Reading the Omen and skipping the pages that talked about Armageddon – which I knew only a little about, but it had to do with the end of the world and the judgement of God.

·         I could not read the pages; I had to skip them because I did not want to think about it.

·         You might be like that yourself, you could of come to this church all your life and still not want to face up to the fact that you will all stand before God and give an account for all that you have done.

·         You are not prepared to listen to what Christ says and instead ignore it in the vain hope that God will accept you in the end.

·         Christ says to you that this is a fool’s hope, it is a vain thing and will in the end have the opposite effect, it will not save you but the opposite it will be the thing that condemns you.

·         He would say to us look at the nail prints in my hands and the sword mark in my side and see that this is wisdom; this is God's wisdom for your salvation.

·         Do you think I would have done this if there had been another way? Did God not make that clear in Gethsemane – I had to drink this cup so that my desire for your soul could be realised.

·         No this is the only way, I am the only way, my desire is that you come and believe in me; my desire is that you understand your position before God and trust in me.

·         Understand that you cannot run from God forever, one day he will catch up with you, in this life there is hope in Christ once this life is over outside of Christ there is no hope.

·         For those of us who have believed and trusted Christ this prayer should bring us assurance and confidence, because in his love and grace he has determined to save your soul and purchase for you heaven with his own blood.

·         Patience in the unknown

·         This heaven is ours and we need to wait for it with anticipation, patience and perseverance.

·         It is as though Christ wants to leave this prayer with one final encouragement to the apostles, to help them and persuade them to continue in their Christian lives and persevere to the end.

·         Because waiting for them was a great prize, a great treasure – that he divides into two – firstly – that they will be with him where he is and secondly that they will behold his glory.

·         This prayer is for our encouragement, because no matter what events and circumstances develop during your Christian lives, regardless whatever the outcome is in earthly terms this will always be waiting for you. Christ has determined that you will be with him in glory!

·         It will not fade away or diminish, it will not be given to another, it will not be forgotten or lost, and it will be something that each and every one of you will have waiting for you.

·         Jesus had already spoken to the disciples about this earlier that evening when he told them in Cht 14: 1 ¶  "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

·         2  "In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

·         3  "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

·         Waiting for us is an eternal home this was Christ's desire, but at this present time we are to wait in faith, wait in patience for that day when it will be a reality.

·         Sometimes we might not understand why things are happening as they are in our lives, what purpose and plan is behind them, that is why we have faith – trusting in the unseen, trusting in the wisdom of a loving heavenly father, knowing one day God will make all things open and clear.

·         We all have to live in a fallen world and suffer the consequences of a fallen nature, sometimes events enter our life that we cannot explain why they just do.

·         We believe that the steps of a righteous man are ordered by God, we believe that everything is planned by God in our lives, we believe that God has a plan for our lives.

·         Sometimes God in his wisdom allows events to happen in our lives that we do not understand the reasons why, it is these times when we have to wait in patience for God to reveal his will.

·         E.G

·         At this present time while Christ is speaking these words, there was confusion among the disciples they did not fully understand what he meant, and it would not be until after Pentecost when they would realise all that he taught.

·         Jesus had already told them it would be like this -

·         14: 25 ¶ “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.

·         26  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

·         While he was there with them he taught them but they did not fully understand all that he said, but the true effect to his ministry, the right understanding to his teaching and the blessing that would bring only came after they had received the Holy Spirit.

·         Once Pentecost had come the Spirit of God would open up their minds to understand all that Jesus had said and taught

·         Jesus said the Spirit would give the disciples the ability not only to remember everything that Christ taught but also to understand what it meant.

·         This understanding would bring them the blessings that they had missed when Christ first taught them.

·         So they would be able to look back at the events of the cross, this prayer and they would understand fully how Christ had fulfilled scripture, how he was who he said he was, the Son of God and see also what he accomplished on the cross.

·         Sometimes the blessings and understanding come long after the event, after we have demonstrated our faith and trust in God.

·         The circumstances you are facing at this moment might not seem ordered or logical but remember Christ has desired your presence in heaven, he is determined to get you there - have faith.

·         This is one of the great attributes of scripture we can look into the word of God and with faith apply the promises to ourselves.

·         We can look at these passages of scripture post Pentecost, because the same spirit that came upon the apostles has come upon us, God has also opened up our understanding and we can look at scripture and understand what Christ has said and done and see not only the promises but also the blessing it has for all of us.

·         We look at John 17 and see that we share with the disciples the very same blessings today that Christ gave them all those years ago.

·         We have received from Christ, his joy, the word, father’s protection, his commission, his life in exchange for ours, his unity; he is our elder brother we are loved by his father like he is loved.

·         And we too wait for that day when we will be with him in heaven, we all stand on the same ground waiting for him to return and take us into his house.

·         We have to wait as Rob told us with patience and perseverance, laying off our burdens and running the race before us.

·         But run with this understanding Christ has desired your soul and he has determined for you to be with him where he is.

·         Conclusion

·         A Taste of heaven now

·         In a way we partake of heaven now, not in a physical sense like he is talking about here (he wanted them to be in heaven with him) but very much in a spiritual sense.

·         We do not yet share with him in a physical body fit for heaven but what we have is a spiritual connection with him, which develops and grows more and more while we are here in this life.

·         Until that day when both spiritual and physical will be united in perfection with him in glory.

·         2Cor 3: 18  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

·         This connection is on a spiritual level, we are being changed by his spirit into his likeness.

·         It is this process of being changed that we have to be patient with and persevere, it is a life long process, through the word the Spirit.

·         The effect of this is that the more we grow in this the more we feel alienated in this world, the more uncomfortable we become, the more we start to experience his blessings and the joy of the Lord.

·         We start to understand what it means to be in the family of God, he is our heavenly father, the one we run too for help, it is his word that we turn to for guidance, it is to him we pray and commune with, it is him that we want to worship and obey.

·         Not out of fear or terror but out of love and gratitude for what he has done.

·         We are offended when his name is blasphemed; when he his dishonour we take it personally and sometimes almost physically affected, even to the point of feeling actual pain.

·         When the word is preached it stirs our soul, it lifts us up and causes us to praise him, when we make a stand for him we feel blessed.

·         When we open our bibles and read of his love and contemplate his grace, when we are moved to tears for what he has done for us, when we choke trying to sing the hymns. These are all on a spiritual level.

·         The more we grow into his glory the more we are blessed; it is these blessings that are a small taste of what is waiting for us;

·         As Christians we wait in faith for that day, we wait for it with great anticipation, we long for it that it would come soon because even now we are starting to experience what it will be like.

·         Phil 3: 20  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,

·         21  who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

·         1 John 3:  2  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

·         3  And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

·         As both Paul and John says we do not really belong in this world – as Christ said himself we are in the world but like him we are not of the world.

·         Our citizenship is in heaven, this is where we naturally belong, this is the place where we are going, and when Christ returns he will change us so that we can exist there.

·         He will change this corruptible body into an incorruptible one, he will perfect our spirits so that we will be like him, so that both body and spirit will be united together in perfection conformed into his image able to dwell with him in glory.

·         This will happen because Christ has desired it to be so – he has purchased each and every one of us.

·         In him we can be assured and confident that there is day coming when we will be with him, seeing him face to face casting our crowns before him, but not only seeing him in all his glory but also sharing in it as well.

·         May God help us to understand all that it means for Christ to desire our souls.

Hymn          715             Loved with everlasting Love

Prayer

Hymn          968             Christ has prepared a place for us

Bible Reading               John 17

Notices

Prayer

Hymn          973             When this passing world is done

Word                                       Christ’s desire for our souls

Hymn          780             Behold the amazing gift of love

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