“That They May Be One”

 

 

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:  PredestinationThe 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 tokeep 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.
18092020

“When He Cometh to Make up His Jewels”

I well remember having sung, in Sunday school, a song with that title: “When He cometh, when He cometh to make up His jewels – precious jewels, precious jewels…”

Our young minds may not have much comprehended what the song really meant.  But what we may have taken away from it, though, was that to God we were precious, “Like the stars in the sky that look down from the heavens,” as the song went on. And also that we were loved and appreciated, even as Christ said: “Unless you are converted and become as little children you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Now that I’ve grown older – and hopefully wiser – I understand better the profound meaning of the Bible passage, Malachi 3:16-18, from which the song was taken:

“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘On the day that I make My jewels, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’ Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.”

As we approach the “Feast of Trumpets” [to be observed by God’s people on September 19, the equivalent in the Roman calendar of the Hebrew calendar’s Tishri 1, the first day of the seventh month], I want to share some thoughts about the return of Jesus Christ (often called His “second coming”), which this feast pictures or signifies. [See: The Comings of Christ and God’s Feasts and the Jews — Part 2.]

What are jewels for?

This may be a no-brainer, but there are obvious, and less obvious, purposes of jewels. First, of course, is for adornment. Just about all cultures and societies have one form or another of personal bodily adornment or ornamentation: rings, necklaces, bracelets, tiaras, diadems, crowns, etc. Jewels are especially valued to signify the person’s status in society. Because it takes some means to obtain jewels, they are associated with wealth, prestige or social rank.

Jesus Christ is coming again soon as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). As such He will surely have not just one crown on His head, but several. Revelation 4:1-11 describes a vision which the apostle John saw of Christ on His heavenly throne, where He is surrounded by 24 spiritual elders [probably His angelic counselors] who are seated on 24 thrones and each having a crown on his head. Verse 10 describes how these elders fall down before Christ and cast their crowns before His throne – signifying their subservience to Him by submitting their crowns to Him.

Revelation 19:12 shows Christ judging and making war and having “many crowns” on His head. I think this shows that there is not a “department” in our individual and collective lives that can be exempt from Christ’s rule or “lordship.” Echoing Isaiah 45:23, the apostle Paul declared that “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Philippians 2:10). In 2 Corinthians 10:15 Paul urges that we bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

What it takes to become Christ’s jewel

Malachi 3:16 lists first “Those who fear the LORD,” and adds, “and who meditate on His name.”

The essence of the fear of the LORD is to depart from evil (Proverbs 16:16; 8:13). Jesus considers it precious that we fear Him by departing from evil. Why? Because He is holy and perfect – without sin or moral blemish whatsoever – and commands that we be holy and perfect like Him and His heavenly Father (Matthew 5:48). [See: “Be Holy for I Am Holy”.]

As the perfect Judge of all (Romans 2:16; John 5:22), Christ has the power and authority to destroy all the wicked in the fire of the “second death” (Revelation 21:8), and commands that we fear Him (Matthew 10:23). [See:  Can We Fear and Love God at the Same Time?]

Meditating on Christ’s name

This will take a whole separate article to explain or expound fully. But suffice it here to say that there’s more to Christ’s names than the mere sound of them. Every name has a meaning, and herein lies its power – especially God’s or Jesus’ name.

The apostle Peter declared to the Jews: “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” – no other than the name of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 4:9-12).

The apostle Paul adds: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Here are some of the many names of Jesus that we should meditate on, for our salvation:

Son of God/ Son of Man (Matthew 4:3; 9:6; 12:8; Luke 1:38; etc.) – As the Son of God, Christ “made the worlds, upholding all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:2-3). Paul told the people of Athens about God: “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). As the Son of Man, Jesus was made mortal so that He could die as a sacrifice for purging the sin of all mankind, and ransoming men from death. [See: The Ransomed of the LORD.]
Lamb of God (John 1:29) –“who takes away the sin of the world.” Paul explained that “…it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats [sacrificial animals offered by the children of Israel] could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). But we have, instead, “been sanctified [cleansed, purged, made holy] through the offering of the body of Christ once for all” (Verse 10). Peter adds: “…You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from, your aimless conduct, received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
“King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16) – “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15)! He will rule all nations for an initial 1,000 years and then on to eternity (Isaiah 9:7).
Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42) – Christ will judge those who will remain alive at His return: those who are His faithful followers will receive everlasting life, while those who are wicked will be destroyed and given their real chance to be saved, together with all those who have died without knowing Christ, after His 1000-year reign (Revelation 20:5). [See: This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.]

Christ to rule with His saints

Revelation 5:10 says of the “saints” (Verse 8), that Christ has made them “kings and priests to God and [they] shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 20:6 adds that “they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign [with Him] a thousand years.”

What God is looking for in those who will serve as priests to Him is that they should be able to teach God’s law to others? Malachi 2:7 describes the priest’s role: “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.”  [See: Moses and Jesus — Are They Contraries? and The Law of Christ.]

Hebrews 5:12-14 shows that those who are qualified to teach others should be so spiritually mature as to “have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” – just as Malachi 3:18 says.

Malachi 3:16 also describes those whom Christ will make His jewels as those who “spoke to one another” – and a book was written to record this. [See: God’s “Book of Remembrance.”]

Healthy conversation among a group of people presupposes a healthy, loving relationship. For when two or more people are at loggerheads, they often stop talking – or talk nastily — to each other. We say, “They are not in speaking terms.”

A healthy, robust relationship is based on Godly love, which is gracious and merciful to others. 1 Corinthians 13 is Paul’s sublime description of Godly love. Notice also Colossians 3:12-15 — “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”  Furthermore: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). To God this is most precious! [See: The Four Dimensions of Christ’s Love.]

“They shall be Mine”

Jesus claims as His own people — His precious possession (Malachi  4:17) — those who have His Spirit.  Romans 8:9 declares:  “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” It is through that Spirit that Christ would “know” us at His return.  [See: “I Never Knew You!”]

As Christ’s return hastens on, are you preparing yourself so you can become one of Christ’s own precious jewels? I hope and pray that you are!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
24082020/07092020