Our Lord’s prayer in John xvii evidently stands opposed to, as at once condemning every notion about any thing loose, indefinite, general, conditional, and so, uncertain, about his redemption work, or its final effects; unless as Mediator he would pour out his soul unto death for those for whom, as Mediator, he would not pray, saying, `I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine,’ John 17:9. This prayer was not for them that believed only, but `for those also who shall believe,’ verse 20. `Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold, them also I must bring,’ John 10:16. `All that the Father hath given me,’ 6:37; `that of all that the Father hath given me, I should lose nothing,’ verse 39.
Let us consider, first, why our Lord prayed for them that he did. (1) It was because they were God the Father’s peculiar and especial own; `For they are thine.’ (2) Because they are Christ’s own: ‘Thine are mine,’ verse 10; `which thou gayest me out of the world,’ verse 6. (3) Because `they are in the world,’ verse 11. (4) Because `they are not of the world,’ verse 14. (5) Because `He was no longer in the world,’ in personal presence to be any longer so seen by them, verse 11.
Second. Observe what he prayed for on their behalf. (1) That the Father should keep them through his own name, verse 11. (2) That Christ’s joy might be fulfilled in them,’ verse 13. (3) That they should be kept from the evil of the world, verse 15. (4) That they should be sanctified through the truth, verse 17. (5) That they might be united in one, verse 21. (6) That they might be made perfect in one, verse 23. (7) To declare the love with which they are loved, verse 23. (8) That the love with which they are loved might be in them, and himself in them, verse 26. (9) To assure them that they should be with him where he is, to behold his glory, verse 24.
Now since there is scarcely a point in the mediationship of Christ, nor branch of Christian interest in Christ, that this all comprehensive prayer, which lies along in full length through the Christian’s whole course, even to heaven itself, does not in some sweet and important way refer to, can it be possible, that that is a redeemed world by the love, power, blood, soul suffering, and atoning death of Christ, which he himself, before the throne of majesty, wisdom, goodness, and final judgment, so fully and distinctly declared to be excluded from all interest and petition in this prayer? I am sure both truth and reason must say, no! But perhaps some will say, If all the world had believed, they would have been prayed for, and would accordingly have had the benefits of redemption.’ It is true that all believers are included, but how is it that there is a world not prayed for, and yet there are those prayed for who had not believed? And if a person’s believing be considered a causation of interest in Christ, and not a `fruit of the Spirit,’ on the ground of previous grace interest, how is it that the prayed for by our Lord, were in the order of love and wisdom’s arrangements, God the Father’s purely divine property, before they were Christ’s mediatory property, according to our Lord’s words, saying, ‘Thine they were, and thou gayest them me?’ John 17:6. Mediationship must precede all saving faith, because the whole of faith’s salvation business with God is through the Mediator only. And our Lord declares an interest for the prayed for, above mediationship; and which is the cause of mediationship, and of faith unto salvation in the Mediator too. For ‘thou gayest them me;’ and then Christ is given to them, and faith is given to them to believe in and receive Christ, and then he openly receives and saves them, as the `called according to God’s purpose.’ But this allows no truck for duty faith, nor trade for universal invitations, but is it not the truth?
There are five points of glorification determined on, as the ensured issues of the Lord’s own economy of grace, and which are, (1) Christ’s glorification of the Father, in the honor of finishing to full effect the work which he gave him to do, John 17:4. (2) The Father’s glorification of Christ, in the honor of approving, with every blessing, the work done, to the full and final design, verse 1. (3) The Holy Spirit’s glorification of Christ, by his full and effectual testification of the things, works, and person of Christ, John 15:26; 16:14. (4) Christ’s glorification in them, to whom it is the Father’s will that he should give eternal life, John 17:2,3,10. And is not this all the redeemed? (5) The Lord’s glorification of his church, in making her to be what in his love he hath purposed and promised her to be, and will have her to be; saying, `I will glorify the house of my glory,’ Isaiah 60:7. `And thou shalt be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God,’ Isaiah 61:3. `And upon her head a crown of twelve stars,’ not one truth of the twelve failing, nor one soul of the redeemed missing, Rev 12:1. A loseable redemption could not ensure all this; nor can the anomalous and ineffective notions of duty faith and universal invitations to eternal salvation, ever be made to accord with this; for this can only be the result of settled fore-knowledge and determined counsel of grace; so to testify before-hand the sufferings of Christ, and, with equal confidence, the glory that shall follow, 1 Pet 1:11.
John Foreman (1792-1872) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was appointed the Pastor of Hill Street Chapel, Marylebone, serving this position for close to forty years.