Last week, I happened upon a website (link) providing some 35 sermons from the last two years of the "Word of Truth Conference". One of the sermons in particular caught my eye: John 17 and Unity, delivered November 10, 2010 by pastor Kent Brandenburg (link). I have done a good deal of study on this chapter, so I sincerely wondered what an independent Baptist pastor had to say. What I learned from his sermon was that he agreed with my understanding on many key points. In an effort to stimulate others into taking in the entire sermon, I shall provide a few extracts:
John 17 and unity. Anyone who wants to understand unity between Christians must consider Jesus' prayer for unity in John 17. I think this is an important point: Biblical separation and Biblical unity will mirror each other. Obviously Biblical separation will never violate Biblical unity; Biblical unity will never violate Biblical separation.
8:54 ff -
What's the unity that Jesus Christ was praying for here? All right. If we're going to understand what unity is, that unity is the unity that he wants between people, is the unity in this chapter.
The unity we desire should be the same as what the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for here...
Do you want the unity that Jesus prayed for?
What was it?
13:27 ff -
Some believe Jesus prayed only for a spiritual unity. When I read commentaries on John 17, almost every single commentary differs on what they believe Jesus was praying for here. I'm talking about, if I read 25 commentaries, I can read 25 differences on what they think Jesus was praying for here. Is the Bible something we can't understand? Is the Bible not perspicuous? And I think it kinda drives me crazy; I mean, how, how is it that we can have so many opinions about what he is praying for here? How do I know that 26, let's say I am at number 26, why is 26 right? Why are the 25 wrong, and I am right? Can you know? Because I mean as you read the commentaries there are so many different viewpoints, how could people, how could we be sure that people can even know based on that.
15:01 ff -
Some believe Jesus prayed for a spiritual unity found in their position in Christ...Ummm so he prayed only for people in Christ to have spiritual unity is what their belief is in John 17. Others assert this is a practical unity among all believers. All believers have a practical unity. Some teach that. OK. But I'm just telling you some people teach that. In order to have it they concluded a need to coalesce around a few important doctrines with which true Christians should and will agree; and the number is shrinking. The number is increasingly smaller, until you can put the doctrines on the head of a pin that you have to agree on, basically to have what the Bible teaches on unity; and really what's on the head of the pin is blurry, you can't even quite make out what, what it is.
23:44 ff -
If there's unity between all believers, I don't see it.
[End of extracts]
Grace and peace,