From “Studies in the Lord’s Prayer,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield

John 17:17

While on a recent walk you heard the joyful sound of a goose, so you looked up into the air, but there was no v-shaped wedge of geese to be seen. And then you realized that the sound was coming from behind some willow shrubs, so you pull back a few plants and there she was. You startled a female goose and as she jumped from her nest you saw three eggs. But these eggs were really different, they were gold in color. Finally, it sank in: You have found the goose that lays the golden eggs. As you took her home and your pockets were full of solid gold eggs, you realized that you are going to be fabulously wealthy.

How are you going to treat your new found source of wealth? Are you going to lock her in a closet? Are you going to put her in the old rusted parakeet cage in the attic? Are you going to throw her out in the back yard and hope that she doesn’t run or fly off? No, you are going to treat this bird as if she was royalty.

But of course, this never happened and it is never going to happen. On the other hand, you already possess something just as wonderful; more wonderful. You can hold in your hand the Word of God. Do you think that I’m being a little too preacherish?

Think about what the Saviour is asking the Father in this prayer. He has already asked that since He is being called home, that the Father preserve and keep us. In a few more verses He’s going to ask that the Father glorify us. And sandwiched between them, there is the prayer that the Father sanctify us. Now the point that you need to realize is that these three things are inseparable. Think especially of the relationship between sanctification and glorification.

What does Hebrews 12:14 say: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” The day that we actually see the Lord, will be the day of our graduation and glorification. But without holiness we shall not be glorified.

The words “sanctify” in John 17 and “holiness” in other places are essentially the same thing, and so is the word “holy” that we see in verse11. “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” Holy Father, sanctify them, because without that sanctification no man shall see the Lord.

Sanctification is the act of setting something apart, and Biblically speaking, it is set apart for the Lord. But it’s not only a setting apart for service to the Lord, but also to be blessed by the Lord. And remember, that without this sanctification, no man, woman or child, shall see God.

Sanctify them….

There are three kinds, or degrees of sanctification found in the Word of God: There is final sanctification, when the Lord, plucks us up, glorifies us and takes us to His eternal home. There is positional sanctification which is accomplished in our salvation in Christ Jesus. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” – I Corinthians 1:30-31.

And then there is the kind of sanctification that is worked in us throughout our day-to-day lives. And that is the sanctification of which the Lord is praying here.

Please notice that no matter what kind of sanctification that you are talking about it is the work of God. The Lord may use different means to accomplish each of these, but they are merely His agents. And the Lord may use different agents in our daily sanctification, but it is still God working. The point is, although we may have a say in the matter, and we can derail the sanctification of our daily life, if there is any sanctification it is the work of the Lord, and its to His praise. And if you aren’t too sure about that then remember the other two parts to the equation: Can you glorify yourself? It’s blasphemy even to think about it. Can you keep yourself from the evil one? Not really.

Look at verse19: “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”

Do you remember the way that the High Priest dressed? Look at Exodus 28:36-38: “And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be. And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.”

Nearly everything about the High Priest prefigured and represented the Lord Jesus, our High Priest. We are accepted as holy by the Father because of the holiness of the Son. He bears the iniquity of even the holy things on our behalf.

This is incredibly important: If we are elect, it is “that we should be holy” (Ephesians 1:4). If we are predestinated, it is that we should be conformed to the image of the Son (Romans 8:29). If we are redeemed by the Son, it is that we be “redeemed from all iniquity, and purified unto Himself, a peculiar people zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). If we are called it is “with an holy calling” (II Timothy 1:9). If the Lord has restored our soul, it is that He may “lead us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). Even if he chastens us, it is that we might be partakes of his holiness (Hebrews 12:10).

“Sanctify them through thy truth. . .”

Remember that there are two aspects of sanctification available to people today: positional and progressive. The first is completely complete: it can’t be embellished or robbed. “Christ is our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification and our redemption.” We are as sanctified in Christ as we are justified in Christ, but then there is that on going, day-to-day, testimonial sanctification.

This kind of sanctification is the development of the Lord in us. And that is the fruit of faith. It affects our affections, our hope, our relationship to sin, who our friends are, our service, etc. Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

When Paul met with the Ephesian elders, he instructed them about several things and he encouraged them about several others. And then in verse 32 he said, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

If we are “begotten into God’s family it is by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever” (I Peter 1:23). If our souls have been quickened it is because “thy word hath quickened me” (Psalm 119:50). If we are spiritually fed, it is “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). If our souls have been enlightened, it is because “the entrance of they words giveth light” (Psalm 119:130). If our hearts are comforted, it’s “through patience and comfort of the scriptures” (Romans 15:4). If we are sanctified it is because of God’s truth.

The way to enjoy the Lord while still in this world is through faith. And what is the source of that faith?”Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

“Thy Word is Truth.”

There can be no question to what the Lord Jesus is referring here: the Scriptures. The Bible holds the key to our holiness on earth. It is the tool that the Lord uses.

But we have something to say about the entrance of that light into our souls. It can be refused. But when it is, it’s like tightening a noose around the neck of the goose that lays the golden eggs.

The key to our joy in this world is holiness. The key to our victory over sin in this world is holiness. The key to our fellowship with the Lord is holiness. And the key to our holiness is the Word of God.

The scriptures are greater than the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Go to Chapter Thirteen »