Has It been answered?
Some such as Ray Stedman, say: yes it has. Here is the link to his argument.
Devotion for Today: Repentance
His main point is expressed on this website tease. We need to consider it.
His answer to this unity is: that it is dependent on God not man, and with that we must agree; but if, as he says, it has existed from Pentecost onward; then the final result of our unity which Jesus prayed and looked for in the world should be evident in our time, and, yet, it never has been fully in evidence. What, in fact, is the world to know?
John 17:23 I in them and You in Me, that they (we believers) may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me. (NASB2020)
The Unity of believers needs to be perfected in us. By this unity there is brought about a knowledge intended for the entire world, and this knowledge is the outcome prayed for in Jesus prayer.
So we must first understand that the world is not among those of us who are in Christ. The world’s end is not, and will not be to come to Christ, but it will have that opportunity. If the world were to be brought to Him, rather than to the knowledge of Him as this prayer asks; then they would, by necessity, no longer yet be in the world. In scripture the world of this age represents opposition. So through the believers unity, Jesus wants the world to know that the Father sent Him, and that the Father loved the world by so doing. This is the gospel and it must be preached in all the world so that individually men can receive it. And the effect then of this prayer upon the entire world will not come about until we The Body attain to that unity.
So when do these factors in Jesus prayer become evident?Let me skip to the end of this age for just a moment. Because if this prayer is ever to be answered in this age there must be evidence that the world has heard the message which Jesus intended in His prayer, and that it has not received it but instead rejected that message even though it was presented to them by a unified body of believers in Christ; thus leaving for the world no doubt concerning the message.
There will be those who will, of course, receive the message and come out of the world, but those who do receive the message are no longer of the world, just as we are no longer of the world.
So this prayer implies that the world has heard and knows, but on the whole rejects what they know for whatever their reasons, even though they will know and understanding it to be true.
We could conclude that perhaps the closest we have come to having an answer to this prayer would have occurred in the United States for today most all have heard our messages, but not all understand the truth for two reasons. One we are not yet in unity, and two, because so long as their are atheists in this world this prayer for the world is not answered. Atheism says that there is no God. So what we see today in America is not what Jesus has asked of the Father in His prayer. Atheism is on the increase.
So where and when might we see evidence of what Jesus prayed for?
Revelation 6:16 and they *said to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the sight of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of Their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (NASB2020)
These two verses are full of evidence that the world knows so much more at that future prophesied time than it does today. For then, the world will know of the lamb of God; it will know of the Wrath of this Lamb; it knows of His coming; they know of a coming judgment worse than rocks falling upon them. And they obviously knew these things before they occurred, in order for them to articulate them.
As a proof for what I’m saying, I was talking to Bob in the pool just last week. My mentioning Jesus to him was far from his understanding of how things are and what truth is. Bob, wanted me to know his own understanding, and just how certain he was of it; so after he exited the pool and raised his hands for effect, he called out something like this: Satan I want you to come down here right now and I want to make a deal with you for my soul. Then he said to me: you see there is no God and no Satan. I couldn’t help myself; I replied something to the effect: God is right here in me, and Satan need not come when you invoke him, because he already has you.
Why am I sharing this, because Bob is proof that men like him today representing the World, do not possess the knowledge stated in Revelation 6:16-17, and really the world as an entity never has had that knowledge, not in all of Christian history — no not yet.
So what has changed at the time spoken of in these verses, in order that there is no longer atheism in a world that will then know of Jesus love for them? For one thing, the time for bringing about this knowledge has somehow, at this future time, arrived. You and I will have changed to the point that our lives and message are overwhelmingly convincing. We will have been brought as a body to the unity of the truth’s contained in Jesus’ message — To Unity of Doctrine. So, when did or will that happen? It will not happen without a profound lesson taught to us by God. In this fact alone, Stedman is correct. God must change us, and He will do it in the lessons brought about in what Jesus calls the Great Tribulation. For it is not until the time of the coming of Jesus and with it His future earthly presence, that we will see His coming wrath, which by that time and due to the power of our message, it will be fully understood by man concerning his on sin. The whole world will know at that time, and they know because of what they have seen and heard from our unity of truth’s powerful message. They will know but they still refuse to call upon Him to release them from their bondage to Satan, so they run and hide even as Adam and Eve did in the garden.
Dispensationalists attempt to tell us that these verses in Rev 6:16-17 represent a picture taking place at the beginning of this coming Tribulation, a tribulation which they associate with God’s Wrath, but, this makes no sense, because there is no scriptural evidence that the Bob’s of this world will cease to deny, and instead will come to this full knowledge of the gospel which at that time will be brought to them, by this unity of the church. This understanding by the world without taking advantage of it, is not seen at any other time before now, and it will not be seen before the Tribulation begins. In these verses is the only evidence that that knowledge will come to this world at this future given time in history, and it is fully known to this world represented at the end of the Tribulation, when the sun and moon are not shining, and the stars are falling from the sky, and when Jesus’ soon presence is understood, as they seem to be seeing Him in the air. Read the preceding verses concerning the sun moon and stars in Chapter 6, and then read the following:
Matthew 24:29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (NASB2020)
It is at the end of the Tribulation that the heavens will be shaken, and the earth will be leveled of its mountains, and men will be calling out for these falling rocks to hide them from the Lamb who is coming with Wrath. And every eye will see Him, and every knee will eventually bow to Him.
“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” The unity of the Spirit already exists, it is an eternal truth. Our benefiting from it’s power, fellowship and love can only be ours by our relationship to Him.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another…” Unity can not be ours by any other means. Our union with Him is the basis of our unity with each other. Not a teaching but a dwelling place.
He came moreover, He is come to work within our hearts fundamental and revolutionary transformations from what we are into the image of Christ. This transition from fallen Adam to the Risen Christ is the vehicle and means by which we are moved from an isolated and selfish entity into the substance of being “members one of another”. The validity of our walk with God is revealed in those who are being united by faith into One Body, One Life and One Heart! Jesus prayed for this, He gave Himself up to cruel and wicked men to pay the price of redemption to this end. Not only did He give Himself as an offering but He is even now giving of Himself to us to make it so. Those who do not feel the pull and the cry for this union of hearts within the wonder of His life have become distant and unable to hear the Spirit of Truth.
The Unity of His people will never come from God moving without… Its wonder can only be known by the work of Grace within our hearts. It is not an event it is a life, it will not come with observation (Luke 17:20). They who live in His Light know of this unity. Just as Jesus prayed… “that they may be ONE IN US”. Unity is the fruit of relationship.