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Lord, Teach Us To Be United (3)

In Part Two of this series, I noted that as Jesus prayed on the road to Gethsemane, He said:

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one…. (John 17:22, NIV)

In the Old Testament, “The Glory” was most often associated with the guiding presence of the Lord. It was on Mount Sinai, as Moses received the Law. It was in the Tabernacle, as God descended to the Mercy Seat. It was in the pillar of cloud and fire that led the people through the wilderness.

More importantly, it was in His goodness and mercy as He led them to their new home in Canaan. In Canaan, near the end of the period of the Judges, the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat on top of it. The widow of one of the priests slain that day was in child-birth.

She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel” – because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law [Eli, the priest & judge] and her husband [Phinehas, son of Eli]. (1 Samuel 4:21)

How was the glory to return to Israel?

Ultimately, the glory came back in the person of Jesus. He was the one who restored Israel by fulfilling the purpose for which God had called Abraham. He came to reverse the curse that sin had brought on the good creation of God when Adam and Eve listened to the voice of the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

In another Garden, Jesus prayed: “Not my will, but thine be done.” As He faithfully obeyed God in all things, ultimately by dying at Calvary, and was raised from the dead – He came forth as the beginning of the New Creation.

Just weeks later, His disciples were in Jerusalem waiting for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus had said He would send.

In the Holy Spirit, God takes up His residence in His church and within the individual child of God.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38, ESV)

And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7)

Many more passages could be quoted regarding the Holy Spirit’s role – but note two things from these:

  1. The promise of the Holy Spirit is for all who will accept the gospel message.
  2. The Spirit is the transforming agent that helps to mold the child of God into one who reflects the glory of God.

In Part 4, we will look more closely at how the Spirit is involved in changing us from those who are “…foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another” into those who bear the glory of the God who created us – that we might be united, as Jesus prayed.

Part 1          Part 2          Part 4


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