The World and the Church
by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou gayest me to do. And now, 0 Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gayest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gayest them me; and they have kept thy word.
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou has given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee.
And now come Ito thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as lam not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:1-6, 9-11a 13-17,21
In this passage, over half of the verses deal with the world. The word world is the word kosmos in the Greek and it means the world arrangement. No chapter in all the Bible mentions the church as often as it is mentioned here, yet the word church is not actually used at all.
The subject of the church, however, is brought up over and over again. Let me begin by explaining the purpose of the church. Jesus said to the Father, that the world may believe. There we find the purpose of the church. The church exists that the world may believe. It is not talking about the whole earth. There are several words for world in the Greek. There is the word world which means dirt or soil. There is the word world which means nations. Here in John the word kosmos is used meaning the world arrangement. or the world system.
It is not referring to the anti-Christ and the end-time world government. It is not just referring to Hollywood, Broadway, night clubs, and other worldly things. It is referring to the entire world arrangement, most of which is not bad in and of itself. Jesus described it well when he said, eating and drinking, buying and selling, and marrying and giving in marriage. There is nothing wrong with these things. They are simply a part of the world system.
When Jesus said not to love the world, nor the things in the world, He was referring to these types of things in the world's system. He was saying, "love not eating and drinking, love not buying and selling, and love not marrying and giving in marriage." Because of our misunderstanding on this, we totally misunderstand what worldliness is all about. We also misunderstand the role of the church in the world and in our own lives.
There are two kingdoms in this world: the kosmos and God's Kingdom. Everything in this world is a part of the kosmos except the church. Your house is in the kosmos. The activities of your daily life are in the kosmos. When God calls us out of this world there is no other place to go except the church. The church is the only place where we are strictly absorbed in the things of God and not the things of the kosmos. Either you are in the church or you are in the kosmos.
In this chapter we are going to learn that God calls us out of the world and then turns around and commands us to go back into the world. Let's look further into this.
He says, "I want you to come out of the world, to go back into the world. I want you not to love the world, not to be of the world, and then to go back into the world." God is saying that there are two places we can be. One of those is the kosmos, or the world arrangement. That includes buying gasoline, driving a car, shoveling snow, cleaning house, cooking meals, washing clothes, or going to work.
All of that is kosmos, because it is a part of the world arrangement. None of it is bad.
The only place not in the kosmos is in the New Testament church. When God calls us out of the world, he is calling us into the church. Most Christians do not even begin to understand the importance of the church. You are not going to grow in grace outside the church. You are not going to be a better Christian outside the church, because you cannot be a better Christian than the kosmos.
Let me make something very clear. All of the inter-denominational teaching is kosmos. The church is God's kingdom in this world, not in the sense of the Kingdom of God, but as God's empire. When you come out of the kosmos you go into the church.
Occasionally somebody will say to me, "I have been staying at home and growing in grace just studying the Bible there."
The home is a wonderful place, but it will not take the place of the church anymore than the church can take the place of the home. God would not have established the church if the home could have done the same job. God would not have established the home if the church could have done the same job. The home and the church both have a place in the training of children, but the church is the place you go to when you come out of the kosmos.
Jesus then says that the we should go back into the kosmos. Why?
That the world may believe, and That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. The purpose of the church is that the world may know and believe.
We must come out of the world to get strength; to go back into the world, that the world may believe; to come back out of the world to get strength; to go back into the world, that the world may believe; to come back out of the world to get strength; to go back into the world, that the world may believe. God is not calling us out of this world permanently, and God is not calling us to go into this world permanently. He is calling us alternately to go into the world to help the world believe, and then to come back out of the world to get strength to go back into the world again.
It is to be to church, to world, to church, to world, to church, to world, to church, to world. There is no intermediate zone. There is no space in between. The only place that is not kosmos is the New Testament church. The world is everything but the church. If you are not in church, you are in the world, because there are only two kingdoms. If we do not go to church, we are worldly, because the only place that is not worldly is the church.
And now, 0 Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gayest me out of the world. John 17:5, 6a
He is not just referring to the glory he had before there was an earth. The word world again is the word kosmos. Jesus was referring to a time before man fell in the Garden of Eden, or before the world was arranged like it is now. Man did not work by the sweat of his brow. Woman did not give birth by travail. The earth had no howling winds, no fiery serpents and no wild animals, and the arrangement was not like it is now.
Jesus said, I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gayest me out of the world. The moment you come to Christ you are commanded to get out of the world. The only way to get out of the world is to get into the church. Christians are to be in church every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, and every Wednesday night. We can remove all of the sinful activities out of our lives, but still be worldly, because we are not coming out of the world by coming into the church. The church is God's institution. It is either the world or the church. Many Christians do not love sin, but they do love the world because they do not faithfully come out of the world
That is why people should go to church. That is why people should join the church. That is why people should get baptized. You come out of the world long enough to get strength to go back into the world. We get strength to go to the steel mills and live right while we are there. We get strength not go to the Christmas parties where they serve the liquor. We get strength to go back out in the world and not listen to the rock music. We get strength to go out into the world to tell people about the Saviour. A Christian will stop being a soul winner if he stops coming to church. It is at church that we get into the habit of talking about Jesus, so that we can go back into the world and talk about Him to the lost people around us. We sing about Jesus, preach about Jesus, teach about Jesus, and fellowship around Jesus until it is not so hard to go out in the world and talk about Him. Stay out of church for a while, and you will not talk about Jesus in the world. You will begin to get more and more ashamed. That is what church is all about.
The church is not a place where a bunch of people tiptoe in on Sunday morning, with a dignified looking wardrobe, look at three candles burning on the communion table, listen to a choir sing the "Sevenfold Amens," and have a worship experience. That is not the purpose of the church. The church is a place where you can come to hear His name praised, after hearing His name cursed all week, so that you can go back out there and praise His name in the world. The church is the place you come to fellowship with God's people, so that you can have strength enough to go back out and talk about Jesus to the devil's crowd in the kosmos.
Every time you stand up and sing, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, oh what a foretaste of glory divine," you are building up a little more strength so you can go back into the kosmos.
Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gayest 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. John 17:7, 8
I wonder where Jesus gave them these words. They had to have assembled in church. Hebrews says that Jesus prayed and sang praises in the church. Where did Jesus talk about this and teach the Word of God? In church. All the cottage prayer meetings in the world will never take the place of church.
A pastor friend of mine went to an inter-denominational seminary to take a course. There he met some theologians who taught him the idea of having little cell groups. He had built his church with Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night services, but he decided to try dividing his church into these cell groups. As a result, the church body no longer came together, and the church began to go down. No home Bible study will ever take the place of the church. No cottage prayer meeting will take the place of the church, because the church is supposed to assemble.
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. John 17:9-11
Jesus was praying for the church, because He knows that if the church will pray, the kosmos will get the message. The average Christian thinks that coming out of the world is when we stop doing sinful things. Coming out of the world is coming to church. It is coming out of the kosmos. A Christian college is not a substitute for the church. We take the church so lightly. That is why you should not travel during church time. That is why Christian school teachers ought to be faithful to all of the church services just like everybody else.
And now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as lam not of the world. John 17:13, 14
They are in the world, but not of the world. They are in the kosmos, but not of the kosmos. On an airplane flight one day they offered me a glass of wine. I did not drink the wine, so I was in the airplane, but not of the airplane. I was in the kosmos but I was not of the kosmos.
When you go to work, you are to be in the kosmos but not of the kosmos. When you go shopping, you are supposed to be in the kosmos, but not of the kosmos. That is what Jesus meant when He said, And be not conformed to this world: but ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. While you are there in the world, you are not supposed to be of it. You are to be transfigured from it.
We are to witness to the world while we are in the world, but we do not need to be like the world in order to witness to the world. In fact, we are commanded not to be like them. The greatest testimony to the world is the testimony of a Christian who has the strength and the courage to be different for the sake of his Saviour. That strength comes from the church. Far too many Christians use the excuse for being like the world as being their method of reaching the world. That is contrary to what we are commanded.
Jesus also said that we would be hated by the world. The most hated church in Hammond, Indiana, is the First Baptist Church. Isn't that strange? The church that the public schools curse the most has the most public school students going there. There are more public school students in First Baptist Church of Hammond than in any liberal church in this city. Why? The kosmos knows they do not have the answer. They will not listen to someone who is of them, but they will listen to somebody that is not of them. That is how we reach of many of the young people in the public schools. They are looking for answers.
I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. John 17:15
That is a strange statement. He just finished praying that we would be taken out of the world, yet then He prays that we will not be taken out of the world. We are to come out of the world, but not stay out of the world. Why? To keep us from the evil that is in the world. He was praying that while we are in the world we would be kept from the evil that is in the world. The church is the place we go that is not in the world to get the strength to keep us from that evil which is in the world. God's people will not be kept from the evil of this world, if they do not frequently come out of the world to get that strength.
They are not of the world, even as lam not of the world. John 17:16
Jesus does not want us to be of the world any more than He would be of the world. That is why we should not watch soap operas on television. Would Jesus watch the soap operas? Then we are not to to watch them either. We are to be in this world exactly like Jesus was. Jesus went to church to get strength, so we are to got to church to get strength. He walked among men, but He was not of men.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17
The word sanctify means to set them apart. When we leave the church and go into the kosmos, we are to be set apart from the kosmos. How can we be set apart from the kosmos? Through God's Word. We are sanctified through the Word.
I was on an airplane one day flying to Los Angeles. I had a Bible out and was reading it. A former famous football player came walking down the aisle in the airplane. At that time, he was a wicked football player and Hollywood movie star. He walked back to the washroom and he saw my Bible open. He stopped and stared at it. He turned around and backed up. He had a group of friends with him, so he motioned for them to come back there. He pointed to my Bible. About a dozen of those guys stared at me and my Bible. I looked up at them and said, "JESUS!" He went to the wash room, and the others went back to their seats.
If we read the Word of God, quote the Word of God, carry the Word of God, study the Word of God, and memorize the Word of God, we will be sanctified, or set apart from the world. The world will also help you set yourself aside. We leave the kosmos to go to church, go back to the kosmos and stay in the Word of God, and the Word of God sanctifies us. We are not of the world because we are of the Word of God while we are in the kosmos.
As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have 1 also sent them into the world. John 17:18
Why did Jesus come to the world? For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Christ Jesus came into the world (kosmos) to save sinners. Then why are we in the kosmos? To save sinners. Jesus told the Father that we were sent to do the same thing that He was sent to do.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and! in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:21
In the final analysis, we go to church that the world may believe.
Unfortunately, so many Christians have been saturated by the inter-denominational teaching that they have no comprehension of the truth concerning the church. Jesus never even considered a Christian not being in church. He purchased the local church with His own blood. The church was built for Christians to come to as soon as they got saved.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
If Jesus is calling us to something, then He also is calling us from something. He is calling us from the world, to the church. I believe that He is telling us we ought to go to church because it will make everything work out fine. But, everything will not work out for the good, if we do not go to church. That may seem strange to many fundamental Christians because we have been so indoctrinated by the Scofield Bible and the inter-denominational Bible schools and institutes who have little understanding regarding the local church. Jesus never intended for any Christian to be outside the local church.
The only thing not in the world is the church. Anything outside that church is kosmos. You can go anywhere from good kosmos to bad kosmos. Jesus is calling us from the world to the church.
It is difficult for a Christian who is oriented in any other doctrine than this to get into his subconscious the importance of the church. We have sent our preacher boys to inter-denominational Bible colleges and seminaries that did not teach the autonomy and independence of the local church and they have been brainwashed with the universal invisible church concept, so the local church is not really important to them anymore. It is tragic how many Christians have been affected by this doctrine.
If you do not faithfully attend church, you will go back into the world and eventually you will be of the world. Many Christians go on vacation and think it is fine to miss church on a Wednesday night, or maybe even on Sunday. Or, they stop at something that calls itself church, but it is not a church. Many born-again people have played the slot machines in Las Vegas, Nevada, on a vacation, who would never have done so if they had not missed church. That is why people go on a vacation, and end up going mixed swimming. If you stay in the kosmos too long without coming out of the kosmos, which is the church, before you know it, you are in the world and you are of the world.
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