These words of Jesus Christ (taken from John 17:22) have served as a supreme goal of many an individual or group to see all Christians, and all human beings as well, come to perfect unity. For the patent state of affairs of humanity today has been one of division, conflict, violence, and war!
Never has the world been disunited and divided since the founding of the United Nations on October 24, 1945 [see: https://www.un.org/un70/en/content/history/index.html]. According to UN statistics [see: https://www.britannica/topics/list-of-wars-2031197] over 200 major and minor wars have been recorded since October 1945 till year 2000! As the world’s resources become increasingly scarce or depleted, nations have engaged in “trade wars” that inevitably lead to military warfare! [See: “The Next Chapter of History.”]
Some have pinned their hopes on religion or moral philosophy to somehow help mankind to avoid conflicts among men and nations. But in more cases than not, religion is the very thing that has divided mankind! Extremists and radicals among religious groups rarely think twice to go to war for their religion. Notable is the I.S.I.S. (Islamic State), which could likely draw a backlash among radical and extremist “Christians” that could well bring us back to the murderous age of the Crusaders and the Saracens! [See: The Children of Abraham.]
Ironically, Jesus declared the He had not come to bring peace and unity among men, but rather “a sword and division” (Matthew 10:34). And that is because those who do not believe in Jesus naturally oppose those who do.
But in His heart of hearts Jesus desires that all of mankind come to unity in and through Him. Referring to those whom His Father had given Him (John 17:11), Jesus prayed that “they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory that You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (Verses 20-23).
How can Jesus be in us?
If the key to unity is Jesus being in us, how then can this happen? Another way in which Jesus put it is that He (and God the Father) can and will “abide” or make their “abode” – their home – in human beings who will love Him and whom the Father will love also. Jesus explained that “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will manifest Myself to him” (Verse 21). He said further: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My words and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (Verse 23).
How love Jesus and the Father?
If the key to having Jesus and the Father make Their home in or with us by keeping their commandments and words, how can we do this, when the natural (“carnal”) bent of man is that of hostility to God’s law and commandments (Romans 8:7)? The apostle Paul explained that the way to “be subject to [or obey] the law of God” is to be “spiritually-minded” – to have the Spirit of Christ in us (Verses 9-10).
How receive Christ’s Spirit?
The apostle Peter showed the “steps”: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord God will call” (Acts 2:38-39). [See: God’s Spirit and Obedience and Predestination.]
What Christ’s Spirit does
In Romans 8:14 Paul declares that “…as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” James 1:18 says that “Of His own will” God the Father “brought us forth [KJV, “begat us”] by the word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” To this the Peter adds that we are “born [or begotten] not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word, which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23). In John 6:63 Jesus affirms that the words He spoke “are spirit, and they are life.”
God’s word and Spirit “sanctify” or set us apart as “holy”, as Jesus prayed (John 17:17-19; Romans 15:16). “Holy” means sinless, having been cleansed of sin through word and through Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary’s cross (Hebrews 10:10).
In this there is unity among the children of God: we all started as sinners condemned to the death penalty as God has declared (Romans 3:23; 6:23). But we have been cleansed of sin, not on our own merits but by Christ’s gracious sacrifice. Thus no one person can elevate himself over another, because we are all “in the same boat!”
And we have all – as many as have true faith in Jesus – been promised the same gift of everlasting life (John 3:16; Romans 6:23). [See: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets”, and scroll down to the booklet titled “What Kind of Faith Is Required for Salvation?”]
God’s promise of salvation is now for those who are His “firstfruits” (James 1:18), and eventually for other human beings, in their own “season of grace.” [See: Predestination, The Divine Prerogatives, and This Is not the Only Day of Salvation.]
When Christ returns to earth to set up God’s kingdom here, there will be endless peace and goodwill among men. Isaiah 9:7 promises: “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, and even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 11:9 adds: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
Then will take place mankind’s greatest hope, even as the United Nations hopes: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).
Then also will Christ purify mankind’s language in order to rid it of falsehoods, vileness, and idolatry. “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, [so] that they may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord” (Zephaniah 3:9).
As Joel 2:28 promises: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh…” As such, God’s people will be able to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). As God pours out His Spirit on mankind, people will be able to understand God’s word and truth (1 Corinthians 2:11-12). With the help of Christ’s appointed ministry to teach them God’s word, they will all eventually “come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God [Christ]” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Even before Christ’s return, God’s “two witnesses” (Revelation 11:3-12), will preach the truth of God that will unite a sorely divided Church of God and those who will be called by God to this church. [See: Where Is God’s Church Today? and Leanings.]
After Satan is put away by Christ at His return (Revelation 20:1-3), Satan and his demons will not be allowed to deceive mankind with their lies. Only God’s truth will be taught and followed during Christ’s reign. [See: Two Goats Together.]
Finally, all liars among men will be removed from this earth along with Satan and his demons. They will have their part in the “lake of fire,” which is “the second death” (Revelation 21:8). All of surviving mankind will follow only God’s truth and thus come to full unity. [See: “Whoever Loves and Practices a Lie.”]
May God hasten that day of mankind’s total unity!
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.