Bibliography for One: The Being of God in the Life of the Church

When I conclude a sermon series, I usually share resources I utilized in my study and preparation for sermons. Here is the bibliography for our recent series, “One: The Being of God in the Life of the Church.”

Bibliography for “One: The Being of God in the Life of the Church”

Gregory K. Beale. The Book of Revelation. NIGTC. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

Raymond E. Brown. The Gospel of John, I-XII. Anchor Bible. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1966.

Tim Chester. Delighting in the Trinity. Oxford: Monarch Books, 2005.

Marva J. Dawn. Truly the Community: Romans 12 and How to Be the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997.

Michael O. Emerson and George Yancey. Transcending Racial Barriers: Toward a Mutual Obligations Approach. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Irwyn L. Ince, Jr. The Beautiful Community: Unity, Diversity, and the Church at Its Best. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2020.

Andrew T. Lincoln. Ephesians. WBC. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1990.

________. “God’s Name, Jesus’ Name, and Prayer in the Fourth Gospel.” In Into God’s Presence: Prayer in the New Testament, edited by Richard N. Longenecker, 155-180. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The Assurance of Our Salvation (Studies in John 17): Exploring the Depth of Jesus’ Prayer for His Own. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.

Scot McKnight. A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God’s Design for Life Together. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015.

Christine D. Pohl. Living Into Community: Cultivating Practices that Sustain Us. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012.

Ephraim Radner. Hope Among the Fragments: The Broken Church and Its Engagement of Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2004.

Michael Reeves. Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012.

Ken Sande. The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004.

C. Christopher Smith. How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversations in the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2019.

Gerhard Von Rad. Genesis. Translated by John H. Marks. OTL. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961.

Bruce K. Waltke with Cathi J. Fredricks. Genesis: A Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.

How Does Prayer Relate to Mission and Unity?: Andrew T. Lincoln on Jesus’ prayer in John 17

While studying for my message this past week, “Praying One: learning to pray for unity from Jesus’ Prayer,” I encountered this insightful explanation from Andrew T. Lincoln about how Jesus’ prayer for unity relates to the mission of the church.

Jesus’ first petition for all believers, ‘that they may all be one’ (v. 21), is a request for unity—both for the disciples and for those who will come to believe through their witness. It is clear that what is envisioned is a unity that results from believers participating in the foundational unity that already exists between the Father and the Son. Again, the grounds for the petition follow. In verses 22-23 Jesus states that he has already laid the basis for the unity requested in the petition by giving to the disciples the glory that the Father has given him. God’s glory—that is, the honor and reputation of the divine name—has been bestowed on Jesus. Jesus, therefore, has granted to his followers a share in that glory by making known to them the divine name (v. 6) and by enabling them to share in his own reputation and honor (v. 10b).

This complete unity between Father, Son, and believers (‘As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us,’ v. 21a) has as its goal the world’s coming to know the truth about Jesus’ mission: ‘so that they world may believe that you have sent me” (v. 21b). Its purpose, however, is not only knowledge about Jesus. It is also that the world might know the truth about believers’ relationship to God—a relationship in which they, as well as Jesus, are loved by God: ‘so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me’ (v. 23; cf. 14:21-23).

The community in which the believers’ witness is embodied is to be a united one, and the issues at stake in Jesus’ mission hinge on the reality ‘that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me’ (v. 23b). Since the truth established in the cosmic trial has to do with the unity that exists between the One who is sent and the One who has sent him, it is not surprising that the testimony to that truth is to be displayed by the oneness of the witnesses.

It is not simply that the unity of the witnesses mirrors the unity that exists between the Father and the Son. Rather, the unity of the believing community actually participates in the unity that defines the relation between Jesus and God (cf. v. 21). For the goal of its mission is not only that the world comes to know Jesus’ identity as the One sent by God, but also that it comes to know that his followers are loved by God just as Jesus is loved by God (v. 23c). How does the world come to know God as love? Not only through hearing the witness that Jesus’ death was God’s loving gift to the world, but also through seeing and experiencing the enacted witness of a community that is united in loving acceptance of one another.

Andrew T. Lincoln, “God’s Name, Jesus’ Name, and Prayer in the Fourth Gospel,” in Into God’s Presence: Prayer in the New Testament, ed. Richard N. Longenecker (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 168-169.

Praying One: learning to pray for unity from Jesus’ prayer

As we continued our series, “One: The Being of God in the Life of the Church,” this past weekend at Eastbrook Church I explored Jesus’ prayer in John 17 as a key to the unity of the church and an example for how prayer contributes to unity. I concluded the message with a time of prayer based on Jesus’ requests in John 17:20-26.

You can view the message video and outline below. You can follow along with the entire series here and the devotional that accompanies the series here. You could always join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You.” (John 17:20-21)

A Summary of Jesus’ Prayer in  John 17

  • Jesus prays for Himself (John 17:1-5)
  • Jesus prays for His immediate disciples (John 17:6-19)
  • Jesus prays for future disciples (John 17:20-26)

Diving Into Jesus’ Prayer for Unity

  • Jesus’ prayer for those who will believe in Him through His disciples’ word (17:20)
  • Experiential oneness derived from the divine oneness (17:21)
  • This oneness tied to the world believing Jesus was sent by God (17:21)
  • Glory given to Jesus now given to the disciples for unity (17:22-23)
  • Unity as a reflection of being loved by God (17:23-26)

Jesus’ Prayer and Our Prayers

  • Jesus prayed uniquely
  • Our prayers can echo Jesus’ prayer
  • We will only live unified by prayer

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into the theme of prayer and unity in one or more of the following ways:

The Power of a Unified Mission

Jesus-Praying-in-the-Garden Dore

November 11, 2011, was a historic night in the life of the Egyptian Church. As the Arab Spring unfolded, tensions were rising in Cairo, including the killing of many Coptic Christians in October. In the past, the Orthodox Copts, the Roman Catholics, and the Protestants had not supported one another. In fact, they had at many times stood against each other.

But this time was different. In response to this rising difficulty an invitation went out for Christians from all backgrounds – Coptic, Catholic, & Protestant – to gather for prayer. On that night, 71,000 people gathered to seek the face of God in prayer together. Held at the cave church on Cairo’s largest garbage city, the night began with confession, and continued with the gospel being proclaimed, healings happening through prayer, and one span of about 10 minutes where people merely called out the name of Jesus over and over again. Since that time, there has been an increase in conversions to Christ in Egypt at a number never before experienced in recent history.

Something happens when God’s people stand together in unity. There is power in a unified mission.

Jesus says…(read John 17:21, 23)

  • v 21 – “so that the world may believe you have sent me”
  • v 23 – “so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”

Jesus says that the result – the aftereffects – of unity in His people is effectiveness for the mission and purposes of God in the world. Get this: Jesus is talking to the Father about His desire for the church to reach the world – those far from God – and His key request is for unity in the believers.

The implication here is that if we live in disunity, then we will not be effective in joining God in His purposes in the world. Our mission will be short-circuited because of unity.

Jesus Himself was the one who said, “f a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).

There are a couple of implications here:

  1. We cannot stand the threats of the world without unity. Jesus said, “a house divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25). If we want to endure in a culture against us then we must seek and pray for unity.
  2. If we care about the mission of God in the city and in the world, then we must both personally pray for and seek the unity of God’s people. The unity of the church and the mission of the church cannot be divorced from one another. If we think we can pursue the mission without pursuing unity, then we are deceived by the evil one.

The place where positive steps for mission – and the place where positive steps toward unity – occur best is in prayer, as Jesus models for us here in John 17.

Prayer is the pathway to unity, which strengthens the mission of the church.

[This is the fourth in a series of posts on unity through prayer from John 17, which began here.]

The Power of Transformed Relationships

Jesus-Praying-in-the-Garden Dore

Jesus’ journey of prayer for unity continues as He unveils that there is power through transformed relationships…and that power comes through prayer.

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)

Jesus is plunging ahead in prayer – and we have the high privilege of listening in – to the deep place of God’s relational unity. He prays:

“That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (17:21)

“that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me” (17:22-23)

This is one of the great and mysterious truths of the Christian life: that God is one in the unity of His substance, yet at the same time distinguished as three persons. There is a unified community of being within God that Jesus expresses here in prayer. We see God’s essential unity within diversity and diversity within unity. And this Trinity of being in God is the basis for Jesus’ prayer for the unity of His people.

Many times when we talk about unity, we begin to talk a lot about love. This is important because love is essential to unity, but not always in the way we think. Sometimes, talk of unity and love devolves into a touchy-feely moment where we hold hands and sing songs. At other times that sort of love necessary for unity gets real traction through the tough, real-life, sacrifices people make for one another.

Now, love is incredibly important, and we all must learn to love others more. But Jesus is taking this prayer for unity in a different direction. Jesus does not pray that God would give His people greater capacity or ability to love one another. He prays about something else.

He prays that His glory would flow into His future followers and lead them into transformed relationship with God and, therefore, with one another.

As biblical scholar Raymond Brown so helpfully points out, “unity is not simply human fellowship or the harmonious interaction of Christians.”[1] There is “both a horizontal and a vertical dimension” to unity.

What we need to recognize is that our breakthroughs to unity depend upon our transformed relationship with God that leads to transformed relationship with others.

I don’t want to imply that this is simply up to us getting moved forward with our will power in prayer, because this unity is a mystical, positional reality given us through Jesus Christ and His glory that we need to live into in greater ways.

This is what sanctification is all about: living into the truths of our salvation that we have received because of the positional transformation for humanity that we appropriate by faith into our lives. It’s all grace from God.

In our earthly lives, we will at times falter in the battlefields of conflict. We may find times where we raise our voices against one another. Sometimes we do it to another’s face with harsh words and false accusations, while at other times we quietly pass the sweet morsels of gossip or shards of slander into the ears of another.

No matter how it happens, when we stumble into the lands of conflict, the way back must be infused with prayer. Yes, we must use the best of the wisdom found in the Proverbs of the Bible and the greatest advice of wise counselors, but we must never attempt to achieve unity by our human efforts alone. Brothers and sisters, fall down on your knees and beg the God of the universe, who alone can speak to the hearts of others – and also to your own heart – about the causes of conflict and remedies for unity.

If your heart is bound with bitterness or rolling in rage, now is the time to desert the battlefields of conflict and seek the sweet remedy of the glory of God released in prayer.

As we do this, we may surprisingly find that God not only changes the other person or situation, but He changes us as well. In fact, we may find that we are the one who most needs to be changed.

Prayer is the pathway to unity through transformed relationships.

[This is the third in a series of posts on unity and prayer from John 17, which began here.]


[1] Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, AB (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1970), 2: 776.