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The “I Haves” of Christ
“For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.”
There is nothing written in the Book of God more sacred, more instructive, more comforting, more spiritual than the chapter before us. We have before us John’s inspired record of our Lord’s high priestly prayer for his elect. What a blessed passage of Scripture this is! Here God the Father beheld the perfect, pure devotion of his Son, the Son of his love. Here the disciples heard the most intimate expressions of the Savior’s love for them and for God the Father, as he carried their needs upon his heart to his Father’s heart. Here you and I are allowed to hear the Lord of glory, who loved us and gave himself for us, making intercession for us according to the will of God at the throne of God, intercession based upon the plea of his perfect, infinitely perfect obedience and righteousness.
This seventeenth chapter of John is unique. The things spoken here by the Son of God were spoken in the ears of the Father. Yet, they were spoken for the hearts of his people and in their hearing, for their learning and consolation. Indeed, they were spoken and are written here in the Word of God for our hearts’ and souls’ edification in the knowledge of our dear Savior.
That which is written here is written in the language of prayer; but this is a prayer like no other prayer. We pray because we have sinned and because we are sinners, sinners in need of mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Our prayers are carried before the throne of God with blushing hearts, filled with shame, contrition, confession, and want. The prayers of our all-glorious Savior were founded upon perfect compliance with his Father’s will in all things.
This prayer is replete with righteousness, every line bursting with the goodness, grace, and glory of God in Christ. It shows forth the perfect obedience of God the Son to his Father as our Mediator in whom the triune God is revealed and known. There is in the Gospel of John a special manifestation of the tender, dear, precious relation between God the Son and God the Father. Notice how often our Savior uses the endearing name “Father” to enrich these sacred pages. As the Father constantly filled his heart, his name seems constantly to flow from his lips.…
· 23 Times in Chapter 14.
· 10 Times in Chapter 15.
· 12 Times in Chapter 16.
· 6 Times in Chapter 17.
In verse eleven the Son prays for the Father to keep and preserve his people through his own name, by the power of his name, and for the sake of his name. When he does, he calls him, “Holy Father.”
In verse twenty-five, when he speaks of knowing the Father, our Redeemer calls him by that name by which he has ever known and forever knows his Father, the name by which all Spirit taught people know him, saying, “O righteous Father.” The world does not and never can know him in his righteous character because he has hidden himself from them (Luke 10:21). But all believers know and love God their Father, first and foremost as their righteous Father because he has in his infinite, sovereign love revealed himself to us in Christ as our righteous Father.
Notice how our Lord distinctly identifies his people to the Father in this prayer. It simply blessed my soul to listen to these terms of grace falling from his lips, as he spoke to his Father and my Father about me. He called us, his elect…
· A Divinely Given People (v. 2).
· A Divinely Kept People (vv. 11-12).
· A Divinely Taught People (v. 14).
· A Divinely Sanctified People (vv17-19).
· A Divinely United People (vv. 20-21).
· A Divinely Blessed People (v. 22).
· A Divinely Perfected People (v. 23).
· A Divinely Loved People (v. 23).
Look carefully at John 17:8. — “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” We will look at these words in the order in which they are given. May God the Holy Spirit take the things of Christ revealed in this single verse and show them, effectually show them, to all who read these lines.
Know the Son
“For” — The opening word of verse 8, “For,” takes us back to verse seven. In verse seven we are told that the sure and certain result of God’s words being communicated to his people by the power and grace of his Spirit and the mediation of his Son is this: — God taught sinners know the Son of God. There is no such thing as a saved sinner who does not know Christ in his true character as the all-glorious Son of God. Is that not what verse seven says? — “Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.”
This is a simple fact of Divine Revelation. — Faith without knowledge is nothing but a leap in the dark. It is not salvation. It is not God given faith. True, saving faith involves knowing Christ. — “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (v. 3). You cannot trust an unknown Savior (Romans 10:13-17).
When God the Holy Spirit takes the things of Christ and shows them to us, we know from whom they proceed. They come to us from the Father’s eternal purpose of grace, unfailing and everlasting love, and that covenant of love and grace made for us between the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost before time began (Psalms 25:14).
“The grace of God that bringeth salvation” is effectual, teaching grace. Grace gives us an education which fits us for communion with God, our holy and righteous Father, for it teaches us to worship and adore him as the God of all grace. — God taught sinners know the Son of God. Now, look at the next two words of John 17:8…
Nine I Haves
“I have” — How I love the finality with which our Savior speaks when he talks about what he has done as the God-Man, our Mediator and Surety. He does not say, “I wanted,” “I tried,” or “I desired,” but “I have!” It will do our souls good to pause a little while and drink from this deep well. Here are nine “I haves” our Savior speaks of in this chapter. What faith, confidence, and encouragement they ought to inspire in believing hearts.
Come my soul, fall down at the feet of this all-glorious Savior and trust him, as a true worshipper, for all things and in all things. Grace was poured into his lips as our covenant Surety before the world began. Here grace pours forth from his lips like a gushing fountain as our covenant Surety who has done all that he said he would do.
1. “I have glorified thee on the earth” (v. 4).
Everything he did as a man he did according to the will of God and for the glory of God. When he was but a boy, he went about doing his Father’s business. When he taught us to pray, he taught us to pray for the glory of God. — “Hallowed be thy name.” When he was tempted in Gethsemane, he sought the will of God for the glory of God. When he was about to die, he sought only the glory of God (John 12:28).
2. “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (v. 4).
I never finished anything in my life. He finished everything! When I bow before my Father’s throne, I am compelled to confess, “I have done what I ought never to have done and left undone what I ought always to have done.” — Not my Savior! He says, “I have finished” to absolute perfection and completion “the work which thou gavest me to do.” He finished his work of establishing righteousness as a man by his perfect obedience. He finished his work of atonement and redemption by his substitutionary sacrifice upon the cursed tree in our place
3. “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world” (v. 6).
Christ is the Revelation of the Father, the One in whom and by whom alone God is known. When the Son manifests the Father’s name to chosen sinners, he assures us of our adoption. He makes us to know that God is our Father, that he is our Elder Brother, that God the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, and that Heaven is our home, assuring us that we are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ!”
4. “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled” (v. 12).
The son of perdition was lost that the Scriptures might be fulfilled (Psalms 109:6-8). He was the son of perdition. The sons of God can never be lost. Otherwise the Scriptures could never be fulfilled (John 10:27-28). The purpose of God cannot be nullified. The promise of the Father cannot be broken. The blood of the Son cannot be made of non-effect. The seal of the Spirit cannot be broken. Knowing the glorious efficacy of God’s grace in Christ, we who are the objects of his grace, we who have experienced his grace ought to be able to sing with joy…
In every state we are secure,
The apple of His eye!
All’s well with us while life endures,
And well when called to die!
5. “I have given them thy Word” (v. 14).
When our Savior here speaks of the “word” of God, he is talking about the whole revelation of God, the whole truth of God. When he talks about the “words” of God, he is discussing the many parts which compile the whole. He is describing the many doctrines of Holy Scripture by which the whole truth of God is revealed. “Word” means the whole. “Words” speak of the many parts that make up the whole. God’s truth is one. Yet, according to his wisdom and prudence, it is revealed in many parts. When our Redeemer says, “I have given unto them thy Word,” he is declaring that the whole of the revelation and knowledge of God and his will is in him and comes from him. More than that, he is telling us that all who are saved by him are made to know the whole truth of God.
He is not telling us that believers know God in the entirety of his Being. No finite creature can know the infinite Creator in the entirety of his Being! But he is telling us that all who are born of God know God entirely, in all his revealed character as God.
· The Righteous God
· The Holy God
· The Just God
· The Sovereign God
· The Saving God
6. “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (v. 18).
Every child of God, every believer is sent by Christ, not out of the world, not away from the world, but into the world, armed with his Word, his Spirit, and faith in him, to do his will, honor his name, build his kingdom, and spread his Word. As he is God’s anointed Messenger, so we are his anointed messengers. As he was the Father’s Representative, we are his representatives in this world.
7. “And the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them” (v. 22).
Every time I read that text, I think to myself, — “That is just too much for my puny brain to get hold of.” But, oh, how I enjoy trying! This much is certain: — Everything which Christ now possesses as our Mediator, all the glory given to him by his Father as the result of his obedience unto death as our Substitute, he has given to all his people in all its fulness forever!
What a Savior our dear Savior is! He has honored his Father in all things for us. He has proved himself faithful and true in all things as Jehovah’s Righteous Servant, the Steward of his Father’s house, the Trustee of his Father’s will, and the Shepherd of his Father’s sheep. He has saved his people and will continue to save his people until he has no more people to save! He has supplied all our need and will continue to supply all our need until we come to glory land where we shall have no need. He has glorified his people and will continue to glorify his people until all his people have all his glory in all its fulness! — “Heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ!”
8. “I have known Thee” (v. 25).
It is written, “No man knoweth the Father but the Son and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” Yet, here is a Man who says, “I have known Thee.”
· His Nature, Perfections, and Glory.
· His Secret Thoughts, Purposes, and Designs.
· His Covenant, Promises, and Blessings.
· His Love, Grace, and Good Will to His People.
· His Whole Mind and Will.
This gives special power and meaning to verse 26.
9. “And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
He who alone knows God has declared to us the mind, purpose, and will of God, so that the very same love the Father has to him may be in us, and that he who is God may himself, in the fulness of his infinite love, manifestly dwell in us forever! That is what I call grace, glorious, free grace!
Go back to verse eight.
Salvation God’s Gift
“I have given!” — How my needy soul delights in those three indescribably enriching words of grace falling from the grace filled lips of our all-glorious Christ! — “I have given!” Salvation is the gift of God’s free grace to sinners in and by Christ Jesus. The Son of God stamps these three words of grace upon the whole of God’s salvation and upon every part of it. “I have given…”
· Heavenly Glory.
He who gave himself gives all! The gospel of the grace of God does not present an offer of salvation or a proposal of grace, but the gift of God, which is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord!
Look at verse 8 again.
“I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me.” — Carnal, fleshly, human religion feeds upon and rests in signs, symbols, feelings, emotions, and notions. True religion, spiritual religion lives upon the verities, facts, and realities of divine revelation. Most people look for God and grace in their experiences, ceremonies, rituals, visions, and dreams. Believers look for God in his Word. As Thomas Bradbury put it, “God as the Father of his elect, redeemed, and regenerate people is only known in the Son of his love by the Spirit of life and light, and all this only by the words of Jesus Christ.”
It is Christ our Prophet who effectually teaches us by his Spirit and gives us the words of God, causing us to live by them (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). The Lord Jesus gives chosen, redeemed sinners the words of God as words of life (John 6:63). When he sends his Word in effectual, saving power, in the power of his Spirit to his redeemed ones in the time of love, it is to them a Word of life, creating life and faith in them by the power of his Spirit. “Thou hast the words of eternal life!” His words are to his own people life-giving words, life-restoring words, and life-preserving words (1 John 1:1; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23-25).
To those who believe not, the words of Christ are words of judgment and condemnation (John 8:26-28). It is worth observing that our Lord (by effectual, irresistible, saving grace) gives, sovereignly gives, his words to his people. To the unbelieving and reprobate he merely speaks his words! If the Word of God only comes to your ears, it will be a Word of condemnation and death (2 Corinthians 2:14-16; 3:5). Oh, may he be pleased to give you his Word!
That which our Master spoke in John 8 was unacceptable to the Jews, but speak it he must, because these words of God formed a part of his commission which he had received from his Father. He who was and is the Truth knew full well what the consequences of his message would be. Yet, he faithfully declared that which would only add to the guilt and condemnation of those who refused to hear his words.
Our Lord told the Jews that the time would come when they would know him, but only to their eternal sorrow. The words at which they quibbled would be the very words by which they would be forever damned and tormented. Do you understand that?
Faithful men are faithful to the Word of God, no matter what the consequences may be ((2 Corinthians 2:17). You may ridicule, scorn, and reject Christ’s words, but you will never get rid of them or even silence them. They will follow you to the judgment seat, and follow you forever through hell (John 12:47-50).
Now, read the rest of verse eight. All saved sinners receive God’s words, know God’s Son, and believe God’s revelation of himself in Christ. I have deliberately used the bulk of my space in this study describing the One who saves, because he is infinitely more important than those who are saved by him. But here our Savior speaks about those who are saved by his grace. Here he declares that which is always the result of his saving operations of grace. Whenever God comes in saving power and grace to chosen, redeemed sinners, this is what happens. These words describe saved sinners under these three characteristics. All saved sinners “receive” the words of God, “know” the Son of God, and “believe” the Revelation of God.
Receive God’s Words
“I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them.” — Saved people receive God’s words. It was the sure and certain promise of God in the covenant that his people would receive his words from the mouth of his Son, their Surety, by the power of his Spirit (Isaiah 55:11; 59:21). The words of God are found in the mouth of our covenant Surety. The words of God go forth from the mouth of our all-glorious Savior. And the words of God are received, not by an act of the sinner, but by the mighty operations of God the Holy Spirit.
The words of God are received into the renewed heart like seed sewn upon good ground, ground prepared by grace. The words of God are received like the hard, dry, parched earth receives the dew of heaven.
There is no place in God’s order of things for the priestly functions of deluded men, sacramental efficacy, or creature contrivances. Salvation is not the result of something you do or of preparations you make. Salvation is altogether in the hand of God. “Salvation is of the Lord!” It is by his will, by his word, and by his work!
Lost religionists quibble over the words of God. Believers receive his words, as John Gill put it, “willingly and gladly, with reverence and meekness, with love and thankfulness; so as to understand them and believe them, and so as to be affectionately and closely attached to them.” Believers receive his Word (the whole Revelation of God); and his words (all the parts and doctrines of it).
Then the Master says, concerning those who have received his words, “and (they) have known that I came out from Thee.” — It is impossible to know the words of God until you are made to receive them by grace. But all who are graciously enabled to receive his words “know” Christ as he is revealed in the Word of God. He is the incarnate God, the Sent One of God, the divinely appointed Substitute and Savior, and the accepted Sacrifice for sinners.
Believe God’s Revelation
“For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” — It is written, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27). And when the good and perfect gift of God’s salvation is given and received, those to whom it is given and by whom it is received know full well that it was the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, whom the Father sent into the world to save his people from their sins, who bought it with his blood, brought it by his grace, and wrought it by his Spirit.
Those who receive the words of God know the Son of God and believe the truth of God; and we gladly give all praise to God, saying, “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake” (Psalm 115:1). He chose us. He redeemed us. He called us. He keeps us. He’s bringing us home, where we shall forever sing, “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Revelation 7:10).
 Godliness is not isolation from the world’s people, but from the world’s ways. We are to live for Christ in this present evil world.