The Unity for Which Jesus Prayed

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20,21).
The Lord Jesus prayed for unity among his people. The kind of unity Jesus desires for us is the kind of unity that he had with his Father. Such unity is necessary to persuade a lost and dying world that Jesus is sent from the Father.
When Christians divide over doctrine, they reveal to the world they are not one with the Father and Son. It is difficult to appeal to the world when brethren cannot agree with each other. When the world outside of Christ sees 600 major denominations and thousands of independent community churches, it must be a stumbling block to their faith. They don’t know what to believe.
Jesus, however, did not pray for unity in spite of a diversity of doctrine, because of two things. First, before Jesus prayed for unity, he prayed that his disciples would be “sanctified in the truth” (John 17:17). Being set apart in the truth is what unites us; it is essential. The Lord Jesus has always wanted his people to agree, to be of the same mind and the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). When people began departing from the truth, they were to be marked and avoided (Romans 16:17,18) so they would not cause further division.
Second, the unity which Jesus desires for us is the same unity that he had with the Father. Jesus remained unified with the will of the Father throughout his ministry, even to the point of death on a cross. He sought always to do the will of the Father (John 4:34; 5:30; 8:28-32; 14:31). We too must yield our souls to the Father and say, “Not my will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). To suggest that Jesus believed in a diverse doctrine from the Father is to distort the truth. Jesus said, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment -? what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me” (John 12:49,50).
When people today pray for unity with others who hold doctrines that are “outside the truth,” they are actually praying something very different from Jesus’ prayer. Jesus would never pray for unity without truth, because Jesus came to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37) and identifies himself as the truth (14:6). To unite the truth with a lie is to deceive, not harmonize. May God help us to find unity within the truth, not in spite of it.

6 thoughts on “The Unity for Which Jesus Prayed

  1. You are very true in all that you say. I grew up in the church of Christ. I have a hard time with the church and unity. We say that and preach it but cut everyone outside of the church of Christ off and say if your not church of Christ your not going to make it into heaven. This would be an absurb statement if anyone knows the history involved here. Im not attacking you at all or playing advocate. Just some thoughts that maybe anyone can help clear up is all.

  2. Dear jh frey,
    Our dear Father in heaven is the source of all truth and the source of our unity within that truth. Only He has the right to make decisions about the salvation of anyone. For this reason we must listen to and obey what He says. The Scriptures from Him say clearly there is only one gospel (Gal. 1:6-9), one body (or church Eph. 4:4), one baptism (Eph. 4:5), and one faith (Eph. 4:4-6). If this be true, then there cannot be another church, baptism, gospel, or faith with God’s approval. Those who teach another gospel are accursed (Gal. 1:8-9). When you hear people speak of the church as the only church, they are not speaking on their own initiative–they are revealing God’s word and His will.
    To say there are many bodies says to God, when God says there is only one, that He doesn’t know what He is talking about or that He is simply wrong about the matter.
    To say that you can be baptized in ways other than the Scriptures teach says to God that His rules don’t matter. He becomes a God in name only.
    To say there are many faiths contradicts what Jesus said. He said that no one comes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6).
    The Unity for which Jesus prayed is not pluralistic (making everyone’s beliefs right). The point of my post was that unity can only be achieved when people come to agree with the teaching of God and Jesus. You can’t teach other doctrines that divide and still maintain faith and unity.
    God bless you in your search for truth.

  3. You all want to join with me in standing in the gap for the churches that make up the Body of chist according to Ephesians 4:11-16? I feel led to do this and have been for about 2 weeks now.

  4. Dear friend,
    There are many of us standing for the truth of God’s Word.
    To those of you who are interested in true Biblical unity that does not compromise, go to this website:
    There you will find a new book, published last Friday, dealing with the issues of unity and instrumental music.
    If you wish to stand against error, please look into the book Seeking True Unity and the articles on this site. All of them are by sound and faithful brothers.

  5. The real issue in this whole discussion is, what can we know about truth? It is knowable, is it teachable? Must man follow the path that I follow for him or her to follow God? Well, just acquait that with medicine or the law of the land. Although none of us might be able to attain 100% unity on everything, is it possible to be united on anything? It must be or God would be the author of confusion. This is exactly why when we might say that to be saved, one must be in the “church of Christ”. We need to define the church and its terms of admission. Does man add or does God add, and if God adds, what does He add us to? A social organization, a choir group, a ethic study group? No, He adds us to the church of the Firstborn, who is Christ. You cannot get to heaven by agreeing with me, but neither can you get to heaven without agreeing with God.
    ‘Be ye warm and filled’

Share your thoughts: