Why John 17 is About the Mission of Jesus

782615My good friend Ben recently posted an article where he shared his concerns about the upcoming ubf summer bible conference (ISBC). Ben has become a friend who fits the “best friend” category. I am so grateful for his voice of reason and sound theology in the midst of the ubf crisis. Today I am compelled to explain my biggest concern for the conference: the lectures. All of Ben’s concerns are valid and deserve a response from ubf. But in my mind the root cause of those concerns is twisted theology. ubf theology has glaring holes in it. This ISBC highlights one of those holes like never before.

The ubf directors decided to present Jesus’ famous “Upper Room Discourse“. The Scripture for this is well-known to be John 13 to John 17. There are many brilliant theologians who have expounded on this discourse throughout the ages. I would encourage you to seek out Spurgeon, Wesley, Edwards and many other qualified Christian theologians. It is a sign of a healthy preacher to find out what “the greats” had to say about Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse. And I would encourage our readers to also reach out to my dear friend John Armstrong. He has more than a little to say about John 13 to 17 :) In fact, John’s friendship to me over the past two years has meant volumes to me. My debt of love to John is far more than I could ever hope to repay. If not for John’s Spirit-prompted words at just the right moment, I likely would have given up on Christianity all together. John’s teaching on John 17 and Ephesians 4 has inspired me to be a bold, blatant and compassionate Christ-follower.

Why skip John 17?

I should first explain the impetus for today’s article. Anyone can see the publicly available ubf ISBC program. If you take a look, you will see that the Upper Room discourse passages are all covered, plus a few extra passages. Or are they? John 13, 14, 15 and 16 are there. John 18, 19 and 20 are there. But where is John 17? Perhaps this “high priestly prayer” passage will be mentioned as a side note.

So the ISBC planners skipped John 17. Just an oversight? No, I found out that the planners specifically and intentionally left John 17 out because it “does not talk about mission enough”. Hence my biggest concern for the ISBC.

So here are my thoughts on why John 17 is not only about the mission of Jesus, John 17 is our essential text of the bible to understand and carry out a healthy disciple-making and gospel-proclaiming Christian ministry that honors Jesus.

Why is John 17 is central to Christian mission?

1. Christian mission is for Jesus’ glory. One of the explicit gospel definitions in the bible is in 2 Corinthians 4:4. Christian mission is first and foremost about glory of Jesus. John 17:1 begins with Jesus’ glory: “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you…”

2. Christian mission is under Jesus’ kingdom authority. Another explicit definition of the gospel Jesus proclaimed is the gospel of the kingdom, Matthew 24:14. Jesus continues in John 17:2 “…since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” All authority belongs to Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The gospel is about the Lordship of Jesus.

3. Christian mission is done by believers who belong to God. Throughout Jesus’ prayer in John 17, Jesus  repeats the theme that believers belong to God, and God the Father gave them to Jesus. This teaching reminds us that people who come to church do not belong to the church or to the pastor: people belong to God.

4. Christian mission is founded on the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus tied his own mission “being sent” with the mission he would give to his followers (John 17:16-19). So in order to understand our Christian mission, we must begin to understand the deep Trinity relationship, especially the Father and Son relationship. John Armstrong makes this point well in his Unity Factor book: “We must understand that the unity of the church is not an end in itself. Unity is a sign and an instrument of the first fruits of God’s purpose to reconcile all things in heaven and on earth through Jesus Christ.”

This list is not comprehensive. There are many more reasons why John 17 is central to the mission Christ gave his followers.

What do you think? Is John 17 related and/or central to Christian mission? Why or why not? What does your favorite brilliant theologian say about John 17 and the Upper Room Discourse?



  1. I was floored when I heard through the grapevine that John 17 did not have “clear enough of a world mission command.” Are we reading and studying the same Bible?

    • Indeed we are reading the same bible as ubf directors. But you and I and Joe and a whole lot of other people are reading the bible as bible learners. The stumbling block ubf directors put in my path for many years was the “measuring line of obedience” and the “plumb line of loyalty”.

      Isaiah 28:17 clearly says that God’s plumb line is righteousness and the measuring line is justice. “I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line;”

      I was always so confused as a ubf messenger. Why weren’t my messages good enough? Why was there always a nagging sense of falling short after every message delivery I gave? I was told that falling short was because of my own weakness and timidity. But now I realize my weakness had nothing to do with it. My messages were deemed to fall short because I was being measured by obedience to ubf heritage and my thoughts were being judged by loyalty to my ubf director.

      The Christian pillars of truth that have stood for centuries are foreign to the mind of a ubf lecturer. Instead of giving sermons about Jesus and his gospel, I was trained to give lectures dictating the ubf idelogy of obedience and loyalty.

      Giving Jesus all glory, giving Jesus all authority, giving Jesus all ownership and working toward unity in fellowship based on the Father, Son and Spirit never entered my mind as a ubf-trained lecturer.

    • yellowblossom

      This is truly frightening to me to read this article . Wow. Why would anyone omit john 17? I could see now quit well why, but this is a sin in itself…to avoid Jesus words to us. We need to glorify Christ not ourselves.

      What strikes me as interesting is that ubf conferences seem to always have Jesus as the center but only in theory. The reality was that all bible studies all lead to the same point…mission and disciple making. The only funny thing is no one really knew what that meant. No one is really trained to be des pile makers cause we avoided glorifying God. How did we avoid? By counting the attendants, by writing messages to fit a formula,by writing testimonies to fit our directors expectations. Where is Jesus in all this? I really hate to say it..but the holy trinity ….it’s just not really there in practice in ubf conferences. They resist th freedom and grace of the Holy Spirit…and without that, no conferences could really open the door to glorifying God. Maybe thats why john 17 was avoided. It didn’t fit the ubf agenda.

  2. Thanks, Brian for the article. I was a messanger almost at every conference I attended during my 17 years in ubf. I went through so much “training”. Was that training good for me? I don’t think so. Did it bring any good to those who listened to “my” messages? I don’t think so. I experienced that God’s word worked in people’s hearts when I managed to bring at least some portion of God’s word through out the training.

    Every message was not mine even in sentence structures. The main task for me as a ubf messenger was to speak “powerfully” in order “to move sinners’ hearts”. I never felt that I was speaking some truth to the listeners I really wanted to speak and share. I felt that I was doing some necessary peformance. And yes it was very difficult to perform “perfectly” that is very “powerfully” so after the message I felt discouraged.

    Speaking about John 17 I want to say that I liked the “gospel” articles on ubfriends. Joe and others expressed that not many people showed interest to those articles as they don’t say anything about ubf. I say that the articles are very nice but what to say about them in comments? “I agree”? The articles about ubf give so much space for commenting because there are so many problems in ubf ))

    When reading some threads where ubf people make some contributions I feel so strange. I ask myself questions, “What are they talking about? Are they normal people to say that in this context? Do they understand anything? Does ubf have any hope if “the best” ubfers write such things?”. I don’t want to offend anyone but trying to be sincere. I really ask myself such questions after reading some ubfers’ comments.

    I have a simple question: is there even one healthy and truly biblical ubf message? In recent comments someone said they don’t want to read ubf messages based on Galatians. Shall we discuss every Bible passage to prove ubf is wrong? But I agree that there are some principles that can summarise ubf wrong approach to the Bible as a whole. And skipping John 17 can reveal some of them.

    I can say that while in ubf I had to put myself instead of Jesus in the prayer and learn to pray that way and live so hard-working as to be a glorious “son” of God. (Can we ever work so hard as to really please God as Jesus did?) Being out of ubf I clearly see that Jesus the glorious Son of God prayed for his disciples and for all believers. Jesus fulfilled his mission and saved us. He prayed that we could be one with him and with each other. And when I understand Jesus perfect fulfillment and victory I see that it is very easy to be one with him and with other Christians (It is difficult not to be). As a Christian I should allow the Holy Spirit work in me and through me freely, not to hinder his work. In ubf however there will never be a message without an imperative. (do, work, have faith (as if it is not God’s gift, but a willful human act that we must do), go fishing, etc). It is not profitable for ubf to have a non-imperative messages because the purpose and goals of the messages are “ubf workforce” and numbers, not Jesus’ glory and praise.

    On Friday we studied Ephesians 2. I learnt through verse 10 that the new life and the “good works” are also God’s gift to me in Jesus. Paul’s accent is on the words “created in Christ Jesus” and “prepared in advance” not on “to do good works”. So we can not boast but can only be thankful for God’s grace and the salvation and the new life with the good works. It was upside down in ubf. This verse was also an imperative “do good works” that is “do ubf activities” because you must.

  3. big bear

    I was a UBF Conference messenger many times over the years at Easter Conferences. When I was in Cincinnati UBF, I was discouraged from learning from commentaries and from other great Bible teachers. I had to submit my message for approval or I could not preach. When I became a chapter director, I wrote more freely and researched more work on certain theologians and did use commentaries. If you carefully read all UBF messages at the conferences they are all the same even after 20 years. It is true that UBF has it’s own standard at what a good message preached is for people. After leaving UBF, I have visited many churches and I find that many preachers don’t even preach what is in the Bible but their own ideas and their theology so this problem is not just with UBF. I would have to say that UBF did do a good job of helping me to read and follow the Bible whenever I did preach a message. However, I feel like messengers should me more free to speak the message that the Holy Spirit gives them then to follow some UBF format. Often, my chapter director did not even write messages but just preach a message that was already written in UBF. At conferences, you can tell that the messages delivered are not written by the speakers but by someone else. The church as a whole need much prayer and all those who are in leadership roles. John 17 promotes unity and I feel that UBF people should work with other churches and understand they can learn so much from gifted discernment in the church as a whole. Yesterday, I visited a church that has a large following and I was amazed that the message given by the preacher was not biblical and there was not even a mention of Jesus Christ in the message. The theme was “Nevertheless” I was deeply thankful that UBF does bring its followers to the Bible. I think it should be more free and trust the word of God to change people and be more accepting of those who attend other churches and try to see themselves as a part of the whole body. The whole message should be “God is love” the mission always follows in ones heart when a person knows the awesome love of God. I thank God that I have had the opportunity to learn the Bible in UBF and I came to know the truth in UBF but I think it needs change or many will leave the ministry because you can only grow so much in UBF and God help you if you fail in your ministry or your marriage.

    • yellowblossom

      Ubf does have good bible study potential but the problem is…no one really reaches out to the greater body of Christ in other churches, Christian materials,seminaries ,etc. I always felt the bible studies were one sided. The messages were dry and always revolving around ubf members only. There is a great wide world out there that God created! How can we fully experience Christ if we live isolated lives within the bounds of an organization? Holy Spirit cannot be contained.

    • Great questions, yellowblossom.

      This is a great way to summarize everything I’ve fought for the past 5 years:

      “How can we fully experience Christ if we live isolated lives within the bounds of an organization?”

      My goal has been simply this: open a door through the bounds of ubf.

      ubf is setup to build walls around your life and the lives of each chapter. But I keep asking why is wall-building and boundary-making the “work of God”? The work of God is the opposite: freedom.

      This raises another contradiction. ubf people typically disrespect personal boundaries and dismiss genuine self-narratives. So they tear down person walls and build community walls.

  4. Vitaly, you mentioned something I want to highlight: “Joe and others expressed that not many people showed interest to those articles as they don’t say anything about ubf. I say that the articles are very nice but what to say about them in comments? “I agree”?”

    Yes that is my struggle at times. I could say +1 to every comment I like. At some point some people “get it” and others don’t. What I hope for though is not “I agree” or “I disagree”, but an expansion of dialogue.

    Dialogue, for me, was completely missing in ubf. I was trained to dictate and to teach. Now I want to think critically (which is not the same as criticism btw) and to learn. I want to learn from Ignatius next. There is much to learn from him about how to dialogue and listen to the Holy Spirit.

    I wish someone from ubf would answer Ben’s concerns or my questions above. I don’t think ubf will agree with us. But why not? How do my words make you feel, ubf people? I just want an expression of thought… your OWN thought, without the “praise God’s”.

    My pastor shared an interesting story. In the prior church of one of his friends, they always said “Praise the Lord!” Even if a child got hurt on the playground, they would say “Praise the Lord!”. He could see that such thinking was leading to fantasy that was disconnected from reality.

    I want ubfers to come out of the fantasy, even if it means making them angry. Maybe I’m wrong in my article above. Maybe we should skip John 17 at the ISBC. But why? Why am I wrong? What am I missing?

  5. big bear, “God help you if you fail in your ministry or your marriage.”

    Indeed. God help you if you fail IN ANY WAY! You will become a slave for life and constantly reminded of that failure and your need to be loyal to ubf, who becmoes your “savior”.

    There is a ubf leader who is considered a senior ubf leader (non Korean) in America. Today he is a leader but no one seems to care that he was caught by police exposing himself in a public bathroom. That failure has bound him to ubf for life and was never dealt with in a healthy manner. This sin was covered up instead of being covered over. That is not grace, that is deception.

    • Mark Mederich

      sounds like it keeps someone in bondage to system in order to advance system regardless of other trepidation

  6. >>Why skip John 17?

    Indeed. When Jesus makes his three prayers we can see one clear emphasis – God, the Father. The first prayer (1-5) the word “you/your” (God, the Father) is found 11 times. The second prayer (6-19) it is found 23 times. The third prayer (20-26) it is found 16 times. It is incredible to notice that Jesus refers to God and to God’s ownership and sovereignty for a total of 50 times during his prayer.

    Could this be a problem for an understanding of mission? Jesus’ prayer for himself summarizes his public ministry. It is a preparation before he accepts the cross. When he prays for his disciples he essentially prays for their protection from the world and the evil one. This is a matter of unity with Jesus and with God. Furthermore, the closing prayer is a prayer for all (and future) believers to be united as well.

    John 17 is a stumbling block for the mandate of any conference that has come till now, because it does not emphasize works. Its emphasis lies in the established relationship between disciples/believers and Jesus. However, in a ministry context we can see a staircase or ladder for our salvation and exclusively call it mission:

    1. Beginning Bible study (believer or unbeliever makes the same commitment to ministry when they receive Christ)
    2. Attending Sunday worship services
    3. Attending Friday meetings
    4. Attending Bible Academies and Conferences
    5. Beginning Daily Bread meditation
    6. Invitation 1:1 and serving
    7. Common life (brothers or sisters house)
    8. Message candidate
    9. Marriage candidate
    10. Receive training in Chicago or Seoul
    11. Attending Senior staff meetings (depends)

    The list can be adjusted or added to because there is no set order and number, but these are very basic works that are visible for just about anyone who has entered the ministry. These works have often been the measure for spiritual maturity and faith. But they have nothing to do with Jesus’ high priestly prayer.

    >>Why is John 17 is central to Christian mission?

    Point #1. This becomes a problem because no matter how hard we try the glory of Jesus and the Glory of God are almost always superseded by the glory of the ministry. May it be an inferiority complex of UBF because so many people say that it is a cult? To be honest, there should not be an emphasis on the great UBF legacy and heritage. Once again there should be an emphasis shift. You should still talk about the legacy and heritage, but in a broader Christian context that overtly creates unity with all other churches and organizations. Only in this may we have unity as believers and not division.

    Point #2. Authority, in UBF often means authority of the director – which is an unfortunate crisis. I remember one conference title was taken after Jesus’ words ‘follow me.’ All of the students made a joke about which ‘me’ was being referred to – Jesus or the director. This is something that a conference cannot really address, because it is the habit of certain chapters and must be examined closely through more direct methods.

    Point #3. Indeed. People who desire to worship God may do so without fear of being a possession. Often times if a student’s family lives in another city from their university they may visit. If that visit includes a Sunday, be sure that you will receive judgment because attending your family church is insufficient – again, creating division and not unity among believers.

    Point #4. Exactly, unity is what Jesus prayed for between himself and God the Father in addition to his disciples and closing with all believers. When we are united then we can co-work with each other and glorify Jesus’ name. But often this matter is not really examined at all, it is ignored.

    I will say simply, the conference would benefit from John 17 because it helps to outline our spiritual condition or relationship with Jesus. We must have unity with Jesus if we want unity with others. Unity within an exclusive church will not bring unity with other believers, it will only bring division. It is a misunderstanding of when Jesus said ‘not peace but division’. This means that we should be separated from the world – not our brothers and sisters in Christ who happen to have a different calling. It does not make them less and us better or vice versa. We do have the same belief, don’t we? Then we should be united.

    • Mark Mederich

      insufficient, exclusive..Lord save us from ourselves:)

    • Excellent points gc. I want to highlight this one “It is incredible to notice that Jesus refers to God and to God’s ownership and sovereignty for a total of 50 times during his prayer.”

      John 17 is about God’s ownership. How many times did we suffer through sheep ownership problems in ubf? How many arguments arose about who belongs to whom? Who belongs to which fellowship? That is the primary source of the “ubf I” and “ubf II” splits in numerous cities.

      And this ownership issue is magnified many times during “marriage training”. [Why do we need training for marriage anyway?]

  7. @gc. Excellent 11 points + 4 points. Perhaps, you can tell that I love bullet points. The most sensitive one might be this: “Point #2. Authority, in UBF often means authority of the director – which is an unfortunate crisis. I remember one conference title was taken after Jesus’ words ‘follow me.’ All of the students made a joke about which ‘me’ was being referred to – Jesus or the director.”

    Regional UBF conferences maybe are different. But can a BIG UBF conference like the 2013 ISBC NOT END WITH Mt 28:19, or Mk 16:15, or Jn 21:15-17, or Ac 1:8, or 1 Cor 15:58?????

    Does top senior UBF leaders believe that the love of Jesus is far far far more powerful, moving, transforming, and life changing than any imperative or command in the Bible? Sometimes I wonder.

  8. Yes, John 17 is an awesome passage. Since we aren’t doing it at the conference, why not try to cover a little of it here? A couple of other points from Jesus’ prayer in addition to Brian’s points:

    v3: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Eternal life is not based on actions we do or don’t do (because we can’t ever do enough!), but on a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We love him because he first loved us (1 John 4:10,19).

    v13 “…that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” Jesus himself was joyful and wanted his joy to be in the disciples through this relationship. Joy is the second fruit of the Spirit (right after love) mentioned by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23. When we have a relationship with God through the grace of Jesus we are joyful. While there are indeed struggles and difficulties in the world, Christian life is a joy not drudgery. Could our joy be part of our witness and mission to the world?

    v15-18. Not take them out of the world vs sanctify (set apart). We interact like everyone else in the world but are not of it like our Lord Jesus. We can be sanctified to be more like Jesus in this way through the word of God (v17). Just as Jesus was God incarnate, so he sends us into the world to show God’s incarnational love and truth to the world through our words and interactions. So in the world we are not exclusive but humble like our Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53, Phil 2:5-11).

    v20-26: It is pretty cool that Jesus actually prayed for me as well as all of us here today who believe. He prayed that we may be one, just as God was in Jesus and Jesus was in God. “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.” (23) Could it be that our love for one another as well as teaching the Bible 1:1 is also part of our mission/testimony to the world that is so full is hatred and violence? (John 13:34-45)

  9. When I preached John 17 a few months ago (http://westloop-church.org/index.php/messages/29-johns-gospel-messages/286-jesus-prayer-john-171-26), I chose Jn 17:24 as my key verse, because this was less familiar, and because God wanting us sinners to be with him is a theme that flows throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

    Perhaps a verse from John 17 could be the closing message, instead of the “same old same old” Mt 28:19?

    Most of the attendants to the ISBC would be longstanding members of UBF, with a minority being “new sheep.” Longstanding UBF people have already heard the world mission command drummed into them ad nauseam. But “so loved by God” never gets old for both old members and new sheep.

  10. I love this discussion thread! I’ll share my thoughts when I get some time.

    aw, I want to point out something right away: “Could it be that our love for one another as well as teaching the Bible 1:1 is also part of our mission/testimony to the world that is so full is hatred and violence?”

    This is a loaded question. It cannot be answered clearly and is both “yes” and “no”, depending on your definitions of terms. That is the ubf mindset, to re-define common terms and then make a question that leads to only one conclusion: Stay in ubf and do ubf mission.

    Clearly it is not a bible teaching that the mission for each individual Christian is to teach the bible. ubf people really need to come clean on this one. To be a bible teacher is not a universal mandate for every Christian. How can such a thinking be justified?

    And in regard to “1:1” that is a ubf term that has already been exposed as “1>1” (one OVER one). The ubf style 1:1 is clearly unbiblical. We are never called by God to submit to a human shepherd who teaches and trains us for life. We are slaves of Christ and slaves to righteousness, if you want to think in terms of “bonding”.

    So for example, let’s say I go crazy one day and want to return to ubf. What would be required? I would have to submit to a ubf bible teacher as in 1:1. That I will never do again. One on one mentoring is a valid expression of Christian faith, but ubf “1:1” is really straight from the pit of hell. No man or woman is to be bound for life and that happens always in every 1:1 in ubf. Galatians contradicts ubf 1:1 extensively and comprehensively.

    • Brian, thanks for your comments. Yes, I think Jesus is saying that actually living a life of love whether one does 1:1 study or not is our best witness to the world (Eph 5:1-2). And I agree that those manifestations of 1:1 that you mentioned and unfortunately experienced are not consistent with John 17, Galatians 5 and in general with a Christ-like life.

    • What bothers me aw, is that the horrendous expressions of 1:1 I mentioned have been universally and consistently experienced for 50+ years. It is time for ubf leaders to heed my Demand #2.

  11. Before I respond to the good thoughts expressed here, I am convinced we “must” take a moment to examine and expose the horrid theology found in ubf lectures. Here are some quotes from the publicly available John 17 lecture. (the bolding is mine)

    Binding ubf sheep to the ubf mission:

    “Look at verses 4-5. “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” Jesus finishes this part of his prayer by reporting: Mission accomplished. Jesus, the Son of God, had an absolute respect and honor toward God. Jesus did the work of God constantly and steadily, event by event, to the end of his life. In doing so, Jesus brought glory to God. One young man was asked to submit a daily report of his fishing and one-to-one Bible studies. In six days, he submitted two reports. He does not have the attitude of Jesus Christ toward his mission.

    Preaching the gospel of Confucian loyalty:

    “Now Jesus prays to the Father to glorify him with eternal glory. Jesus’ bold confidence to pray in this way is enlightening. There is a uniqueness to Jesus’ prayer because he is the one and only Son of God. Yet there is also an encouragement to us that those who finish their mission on earth can enter into glory boldly. In verses 1-5, we have seen Jesus pray to the Father for himself. Let’s learn Jesus’ life purpose to glorify God. We can glorify God when we finish the mission he has given us. After finishing, we must offer everything to God in prayer.”

    Expressing the Korean idea of justice in Christ’s name:

    “When God’s people unite in Jesus’ name, the devil flees from them. But when God’s people fight among themselves, they are defeated by the devil. Here we learn that whatever differences we may have, because of Jesus’ name we must love one another, humbling ourselves in every way. No matter how right we may be about something, if it results in the division of the devil, we must reconsider. It is always right to humble ourselves and show God’s love to our coworkers in Christ.

    • Luther’s reformation unfortunately “resulted in the devision of the devil” according to the ubf message.

      The second passage is against Paul’s words ” I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me”. We can work in the measure God gives us by his grace only. And the work is God’s gift (Eph2:10)

      And the first passage, the application part is just crazy.

      And can you find a single one healthy lecture made by ubf? There could be many healthy lectures but the messangers are trained until every message becomes like this one.

      You know on the Moscow ubf site there is a “new” lecture on tithing. The lecture is by the new CIS director/coordinator and is the only one in 2013. There are quite many interesting doctrines like, “In Gen 14 we learn that Abraham gave one tenth of all his best productions to the priest Melchisedek. In Hebrew 7 the essence of this event is revealed to us. Melchisedek is a prototype of the Christ. So the Abraham’s tithe was the prototype of the tithes that all the God’s people would bring to the High Priest Christ” (translation is mine).

    • Vitaly,

      “Luther’s reformation unfortunately “resulted in the devision of the devil” according to the ubf message.”

      Isn’t it so ironic that almost every Christian great man and woman of God would be considered as a lazy, wicked servant who just creates division?

      Realizing that helped open my eyes to see that ubf bible study is not a Christian bible study and ubf lectures do not preach the gospel Jesus preached, but some odd mixture of Korean/confucian “gospel”.

  12. Here is the 2007 Chicago ubf lecture on John 17. I could easily point out the “Korean/Confucian gospel” in most of the lectures in this archive. Any thoughts on this anyone?

    • I find SB’s thoughts on John 17 to be significantly better than the lecture I just linked to. Why do so few listen to SB? Her blue book lecture was much more gospel centered than the other lectures. This does not excuse the horrendous things she has helped cover up, but at least she understands some important bible principles.

      Seems like SB thinks John 17 is about mission:

      “God sent his Son, whom he loved, as a missionary to the world. This prayer has been called Jesus’ high priestly prayer. But it is also his world mission report to God. In this prayer we find that Jesus lived and worked for the glory of God. This must be the life purpose of all of us. Jesus glorified God by his obedient life. He glorified God by finishing the work God gave him to do. That work was to accomplish world redemption by his obedient death and to raise disciples who would bring the good news of God’s love and victory to the whole world. From this prayer we can learn Jesus’ missionary principles, and especially, we can see how he raised his disciples.”

    • There is some truth to what you say about the Korean/Confucian gospel and thus often there is no intentional distortion of it. Properly contextualizing the gospel is important for missionaries and needs more attention. I think we Americans also put our own unique spin(s) on the gospel based on our culture that we often don’t realize as well. I am not justifying it at all; it underscores the vigilance needed to humbly accept God’s great gift to us and communicate it to those we serve.

    • “Properly contextualizing the gospel is important for missionaries and needs more attention.”

      This is important to note, aw. A missionary to Russia needs a Russian contextualization to be effective. The same is true in each country. My struggles is what do we do with Koreans who have preached with a Korean contextualization and demanded each country to adopt their context? How do we proclaim the gospel to those who have lived as anti-missionaries without injecting my own context?

    • I see the same problem with American missionaries currently in Uganda and other African places. They are taking the American context and implanting it there. In the short term there may be a spurt of growth, but isn’t this like trying to grow a crop on rocky soil? The depth is just not there when missionaries implant their culture into another culture. This is what I call anti-missionary work.

  13. At the risk of being overly simplistic, UBF Bible study is basically this: “This is what the Bible says, so go do it.” This is what Jesus prayed and lived for, so go do it.

    But the Bible is primarily a gospel/good news: “This is what’s done for you.” That’s it. It is done. It is finished. Jesus prayed, lived and died for you. That’s it. There are no imperatives and commands in the gospel itself. When a Christian realizes the gospel, then he lives his life correspondingly.

    UBF (over)emphasizes the results of the gospel by (over)emphasizing the commands, mission and imperatives of the Bible (which only makes people tired).

    Has there ever been a UBF conference that ended with an indicative???

    • “Has there ever been a UBF conference that ended with an indicative???”

      No, not to my knowledge. EVERY title and EVERY lecture is a command. Even the bible promises are turned into commands. Even indicatives that are not commands are rephrased and chopped up to be commands.

  14. There is not much more to add to this, but I wanted to know what yellowblossom could say about Brian’s excellent article that was prompted by Ben’s ISBC article.

    In all honest reflection, I wish I could get a hold of my old conference programs and compare the focal point through the messages. I believe it could make for some interesting dialogue and discussion to look at the objectives and goals of a conference from the point of view of the themed key verse, in addition to the supporting lectures and main passages of study and testimony writing.

    In this article Brian pointed out the glaring omission of John 17 and the rest was drawn out by our dialogue at that time. Anyway, just random thoughts…I do wonder though about what yellowblossom could add since she already commented about the ISBC…