|John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water': o pisteuon (PAP) eis eme, kathos eipen (AAI) he graphe, potamoi ek tes koilias autou rheusousin (FAI) hudaton zonton. (PAP):
Who is saved?
The Amplified Version = He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water.
Spurgeon - What a glorious Gospel sermon that was! It comes to us down through the ages, and is as true now as when Jesus spoke it. Ho, thirsty ones, come ye to Him, and drink; and He will slake your thirst, and create in you a well of living water which shall bubble up for ever and ever.
He who believes - Believes corresponds to anyone thirsty...drink (John 7:37). And so first we obey and come to Jesus. Then we obey (come and drink are both commands in Jn 7:37) and drink of Jesus which is synonymous with believing in Jesus. In John 4 Jesus says in essence the same thing when He tells the Samaritan woman "If you knew the Gift of God, and Who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him (Ed: Compare "He who believes" so asking is the equivalent of believing in this context) and He would have given you living water...but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (Jn 4:10, 14-note)
When we believe in Christ, we receive new life and have the "living water" within our bodies, His Temple.
Believes in Me - Many say "I believe in God," so surely I am going to heaven. However, God is not the object of the belief that leads to salvation, for Jesus clearly stated the He was to be the Object of a person's faith - not God (although of course He is fully God - Col 2:9-10), not religion, not some set of rituals, not my parent's faith, etc. Yes, Jesus is God, but one can say they believe in God and not truly believe in Jesus. How many times have you been in a conversation and the Name "God" comes up and there is no reaction, but then someone mentions the Name "Jesus" (and it is not used as a "curse word") and you can just sense the tension and bristling in the group. No, Jesus clearly states that for belief to be effectual, it must be "in Me."
Peter adds that "there is salvation in no one else (Peter uses the Greek word signifying absolute negation here); FOR (term of explanation--What is Peter explaining?) there is no other (again absolute negation = absolutely no other) name (other than Jesus) under heaven that has been given among men by which we must (absolutely of necessity must) be saved.” (Acts 4:12, cp Jesus' clear declaration that He is the ONLY way to the Father - Jn 14:6 = “I am the ["the" = definite article in Greek = the specific way, not just "a way" as Jehovah's Witnesses falsely teach!] way, and the truth, and the life; no one [Greek = absolutely no one] comes to the Father but through [dia = means of something being accomplished - in this case entree into the Throne Room of the Father - Ro 5:1-2] Me.")
So if a believer is thirsty, where should he go to have that thirst quenched? To the Holy Spirit? No, Jesus says Me! When we were still dead in our trespasses and sins, we came by faith to Jesus for salvation (justification). Now that we are believers, we must continue to come by faith to Jesus, for He is the "Thirst Quencher." How? Today we come to Jesus, the Word of God, by coming thirsty to the living word of God (Heb 4:12). Are you coming daily to the fountain of living water to commune with Jesus (cp God's provision for our spiritual life in Mt 4:4, Lk 4:4).
Believes (4100)(pisteuo from pistis; pistos; cf related studies the faith, the obedience of faith) means to consider something to be true and to accept it as genuine or real. Pisteuo means to entrust oneself to an entity (in context = Jesus) in complete confidence. There is also an implication of our total commitment to the One in Whom we have placed our trust. It is vital to every soul's eternal welfare that they do not misunderstand what Jesus is saying. There is a common evangelical phraseology which says all you need to do is mouth the words "I believe in Jesus." On one hand, that statement is correct for we are saved (ONLY) by grace through faith and not works. However if this statement is a mere declaration and is unaccompanied by a changed heart and changed life, it is on shaky ground and does not necessarily signify genuine saving faith. See Discussion of Two Types of Faith. see John Piper's discussion "Some Belief Is Not Saving Faith" in his Sermon "He Knew What Was In Man").
The highly respected pastor Mark Dever has some sobering thoughts on believe writing that "One thing I think of as a member of our nation's largest Protestant denomination, is that we have a lot of nominalism (Nominal - See Definition #3), in our own Southern Baptist Convention, and in other Evangelical denominations. There are a lot of people who will happily say that they "believe" (Ed: Quotes and italics are mine) in Christ, that they prayed to receive Him as their Savior, that they’ve invited Him into their hearts, but who don’t give any evidence of truly being converted." (Ed: Compare James - Jas 2:14-26-note) (from an interview with Mark Dever - Is America Spiritually Healthy)
J D Greear adds some even more sobering thoughts on genuine belief writing that "If there were a world record for the “number of times asking Jesus into your heart,” I’m pretty sure I would hold it. I’ve probably “prayed the prayer” more than five thousand times. Every time was sincere, but I was never quite sure I had gotten it right. Had I really been sorry enough for my sin that time around? Some wept rivers of tears when they got saved, but I hadn’t done that. Was I really sorry? Was that prayer a moment of total surrender? Did I really “get” grace? So I would pray the sinner’s prayer again. And again. And again. And maybe get baptized again. Every student camp, every spring revival. Rinse and repeat. I used to think I was alone in this, that I was just a neurotic oddball. But when I began to talk about this, I would have such a slew of people tell me they had the same experience that I concluded the problem was endemic. Countless people in our churches today are genuinely saved, but they just can’t seem to gain any assurance about their salvation. The opposite is the case, too. Because of some childhood prayer, tens of thousands of people are absolutely certain of a salvation they do not possess. (Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart by J.D. Greear) (See his interesting book if you have some doubts about this subject or about your own personal salvation. As my old Med School professor used to say at morning presentations when I was stumped - "You can't not know!" - Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart- How to Know for Sure You Are Saved- J.D. Greear, Paige Patterson)
As the Scripture said - Normally this type of statement allows one to find a specific OT passage which the writer is quoting. In this case, there is definitive specific OT passage.
Scripture (1124)(graphe from grapho = to scratch on, engrave and then to write; English = graphite - lead in pencil!) means first a writing, a thing written or a document. The majority of the NT uses refer to the Old Testament writings,
Some (D A Carson, page 325) have suggested Jesus may have been referring to the Scripture in Nehemiah 9:15 ("You brought forth water from a rock for them for their thirst") and Nehemiah 9:19-20 ("You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, And You gave them water for their thirst."), for this section of Scripture represents the only OT passages where water, Spirit and the Feast of Tabernacles (cp Neh 8:8-18 [v14 = "They found written in the law how the LORD had commanded through Moses that the sons of Israel should live in booths during the feast of the seventh month."], Neh 8:14-18 [v18 = "they celebrated the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly according to the ordinance."], see also Dt 31:10-11) are found in the same closely associated context. While it is an interesting thought, one cannot be dogmatic and we must await that day when we will be "face to face" and "will know fully" (1Cor 13:12) Lord, hasten that great day! Amen (cp 2Pe 3:12)
Others see as the Scripture said as a reference to an amalgamation of a number of OT Scriptures - For example see Isa. 12:3; Isa 43:20; Isa 44:3; Isa 55:1.
Westcott feels that "The reference is not to any one isolated passage, but to the general tenor of such passages as Isa. 58:11; Zech. 14:8, taken in connection with the original image (Ex 17:6; Nu 20:11)."
From - Not into. With the former preposition, the person blessed is a conduit of blessing. With the latter preposition, the person is blessed, but is like a pond or reservoir which becomes stagnant. The Sea of Galilee is living and teems with fish, whereas the Dead Sea is lifeless, barren. Jesus calls us believers not to be be "Dead Sea Saints" but to be like the Sea of Galilee, giving forth streams of living what to thirsty souls. This is a great application of the truth that it is more blessed to give than to receive! (See Devotional on Dead-Sea Christians)
S D Gordon on from (out of in the KJV) —not into, but "out of." All the difference in the lives of men lies in the difference between these two expressions. "Into" is the world's preposition. Every stream turns in; and that means a dead sea. Many a man's life is simply the coast line of a dead sea. "Out of" is the Master's word. His thought is of others. The stream must flow in, and must flow through, if it is to flow out, but it is judged by its direction, and Jesus would turn it outward. There must be good connections upward, and a clear channel inward, but the objective point is outward toward a parched earth. But before it can flow out it must fill up. An outflow in this case means an overflow. There must be a flooding inside before there can be a flowing out. And let the fact be carefully marked that it is only the overflow from the fullness within our own lives that brings refreshing to anyone else. A man praying at a conference in England for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit said: "Oh Lord, we can't hold much, but we can overflow lots." That is exactly the Master's thought. "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
Christ is indeed the ultimate source of the living water, but, in Christ, believers are to spring up with the living water he gives to the soul. This is the fruit of being ‘born again’ (Jn 3:3). It grows within us as a ‘fountain’, and never ceases because it continually (present tense) springs up to eternal life (Jn 4:14). Therefore, it can be said of the believer that ‘From the abundance of the heart, the mouth pours forth praise’ (cf. Mt 12:34; Lk 6:45). Now there is a spring where there was once a broken cistern (cp Jer 2:13, 17:13). Now there is a light where there once was darkness (Jn 8:12 = "“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life”, Acts 26:18 = "from darkness to light," Col 1:12-13 = "saints in light...rescued from darkness"), for we have exchanged ‘beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’ (Isa 61:3).
The Bible and The Land - Not only is Jesus indicating that he can fulfill what the Festival of Tabernacles prayers seek—water—but he has gone further; he is the source of living water, water that can purify, water that comes from within his own life and transforms others. It is no accident that when Jesus is on the cross in John’s Gospel, a soldier pierces him with a spear and water, living water, flows from his side (John 19:34). In John’s view, Jesus is the divine source of water that renews and purifies.
Oswald Chambers emphasizes that in this passage Jesus in not speaking "of the benefits to the individual life at all, but of the rivers of living water that will flow out of the individual life. Jesus did not say, “He that believes in Me, shall experience the fulness of the blessing of God”; but, “he that believes in Me, out of him shall escape everything he receives.” (Ed: See Related Comment by Andrew Murray) It is a picture of the unfathomable, incalculable benediction (act of blessing) which will flow from the one great sovereign source, belief in Jesus. We have nothing to do with the outflow; we have to see to it that we are destitute enough of spiritual independence to be filled with the Holy Spirit and then pay attention to the Source, Our Lord Himself. You can never measure what God will do through you if you are rightly related to Jesus. (He shall glorify me: talks on the Holy Spirit and other themes)
To be a channel of blessing,
Give as 'twas given to you in your need,
Tony Evans - The Spirit resides in our innermost being. We have a built-in filling station that is always pumping fresh life into us. (Free at Last-Experiencing True Freedom Through Your Identity In Christ)
From his innermost being - From his belly. From is the Greek preposition ek, signifying "out of" or "out from." Some might be surprised that Jesus did not say "into" rather than "from." Jesus is not speaking so much of Spirit filling as He is "Spirit flowing!"
Keddie notes that "the experiential fruit of coming to Christ is to overflow with newness of life. Christ is indeed the ultimate source of the living water, but, in Christ, believers well up with the living water he gives to the soul. This is the fruit of being ‘born again’ (Jn 3:3). It grows within us as a ‘fountain’, and never ceases because it springs up to everlasting life (Jn 4:14)."
Ray Pritchard on the phrase his innermost being - Here is one mark of true conversion—we are deeply changed by Jesus and we know it. That’s the meaning of “streams of living water will flow from within him.” The Greek (ek tes koilias autou) literally reads “out of his belly,” meaning out of the deepest place, the seat of the emotions. When we talk about a “belly laugh,” we mean the same thing. A “belly laugh” comes from deep within us. The deep change Jesus makes touches us at the very core of who we are. You will know you are converted when you come to Jesus and something happens to you that you cannot fully explain. True conversion is more than walking an aisle, saying a prayer, or raising a hand. True conversion means that Almighty God enters your life, in the deepest, most personal part, and takes up residence within. You can truly say, “I am converted,” when you know that God has done something for you that only God can do. Let me say that another way: If everything in your life can be explained apart from God, what do you need God for? True conversion goes beyond religion—which is why religious people are often the last to be converted. Religious people trust in their religion—but their lives are never changed. They go to church and go through the motions, they may even pray the prayers and say all the right words, but they have a Sahara heart—hot, parched, barren, empty. When Jesus comes in, living waters flow out. And they keep on flowing. Here we have the whole course of the Christian life set before us. We cry out to God. He gives us Living Water. We give the Living Water to others. Or we can say it another way: I’m thirsty. I’m not thirsty anymore. I’m full. I’m overflowing. Or we can say it even simpler: From God … to us … to others. What starts with God, comes down to us, and then goes out from us to other people. Living water flows from God into us, and then from deep within us (from the “belly” of life), the river flows out from us for the benefit of others. (When God Comes Near- “I Believe in the Holy Spirit”)
Innermost being (2836)(koilia from koilos = hollow) refers literally to a hollow space or cavity (although not used with this sense in Scripture) and then to (1) the belly (stomach), (2) the womb (uterus) and (3) (figuratively) the inner man or innermost being, which is almost synonymous with way the NT usually uses heart (kardia).
In Php 3:19-note and Ro 16:18-note koilia is refers to the appetite, which speaks metaphorically of the strong inner desires emanating from our fallen flesh, which is ever craving for immediate gratification, something found only in Jesus!
Moulton-Milligan record a literal use in an ancient Greek document which speaks of "filling in the koilia before the king arrives."
Koilia frequently refers to the womb (Mt 19:12; Lk 1:15, 41-42, 44; 2:21; Jn 3:4; Acts 3:2; 14:8; Gal 1:15). Koilia is also to personify a woman (Lk 11:27; 23:29; Ge 25:23, 24; Ru 1:11; Isa 44:2).
Friberg summarizes koilia - (1) literally, the hollow part of the body; (a) where food is digested stomach, belly (Mk 7.19); (b) where reproduction takes place womb, uterus (Lk 1.15); (2) figuratively; (a) the inner self innermost being, heart (Jn 7.38); (b) desires, appetites (Ro 16.18) (Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament- Barbara Friberg and Neva F. Mille)
Koilia - 22x in 21v - NAS Usage = appetite(1), appetites(1), belly(1), innermost being(1), stomach(7), womb(11), wombs(1). KJV Usage = womb 12, belly 11. Mt 12:40 (Jonah = 3 days and nights in the "belly of the sea monster"); Mt 15:17; 19:12; Mk 7:19; Lk 1:15, 41-42, 44; 2:21; 11:27; 23:29; Jn 3:4; 7:38; Acts 3:2; 14:8; Ro 16:18-note; 1Cor 6:13; Gal 1:15-note; Phil 3:19-note; Rev 10:9-10-note
Koilia - 85x in 84v in the Septuagint which uses koilia in the same three senses as the NT = belly (Jonah 2:1-2), womb (Ge 25:24), innermost being (Pr 20:27, 30 = "innermost parts", Isa 16:11 = "heart"; Jer 4:19 = "soul"; Lam 1:20 = "spirit"). - Ge 3:14; 25:23f; 30:2; 41:21; Ex 29:13, 22; Lev 3:3, 9, 14; 4:11; 8:21, 25; 9:14, 19; 11:42; Nu 5:21f, 27; Dt 7:13; 28:4, 11, 18, 53; 30:9; Jdg 3:21f; 13:5; 16:17; Ruth 1:11; 2Sa 7:12; 16:11; 20:10; 1Chr 17:11; 2Chr 21:15, 18f; 32:21; Job 1:21; 2:9; 3:11; 10:18; 15:35; 30:27; 31:15; 38:8; Ps 22:10, 14; 40:8; 71:6; 132:11; Pr 18:20; 20:27, 30; 24:15; 31:2; Song 5:4, 14; 7:2; Isa 8:19; 16:11; 44:2, 24; 46:3; 48:8, 19; 49:1, 5, 15; Jer 1:5; 4:19; 51:34; Lam 1:20; 2:20; Ezek 3:3; 7:19; Dan 2:32; Hos 9:16; 12:3; Jonah 1:17; 2:1f; Mic 6:7; Hab 3:16
Hab 3:16-note I heard and my inward parts (Heb = beten = belly, abdomen, womb; Lxx = koilia) trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us.
Rivers of living water - This phrase reminds us of Jesus' statement in John 10 when He stated "I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." (Jn 10:10) Rivers of living water gushing forth is surely life abundant or as it has sometimes been referred to as the Victorious Christian Life, the Christ Life, the Exchanged Life, etc. It begs the question of all born again believers - Is this statement true in my life? Do I experience ever flowing streams of living water gushing out of my life?
Ray Pritchard - The word “rivers” is plural. Not a river—but rivers of living water will flow out from us. Think of the Nile plus the Danube plus the Amazon plus the Mississippi plus the Ganges plus every other great river. It all equals inexhaustible abundance. Come to Jesus and the rivers begin to flow because all the rivers flow from him.
Rivers (4215)(potamos from pino = to drink) refers literally to flowing water, such as a stream or river (Mt 3:6). In the plural can refer to water rushing down ravines after heavy rains (floods, torrents - Mt 7:25). In Jn 7:38 potamos refers to the "water of life as a flowing river, denoting fullness of life from God." (Friberg).
Figuratively in Jn 7:38 potamos speaks of the great abundance and never ending flow of life giving "water," because the Holy Spirit is the eternal, omnipotent Source Who is in us and flows forth from us forever!
Vine comments that Jesus uses rivers (potamos) to describe “the effects of the operation of the Holy Spirit in and through the believer.”
NIDNTT - The assurance in all this is that God’s Spirit within is experienced as a mysterious ever-renewed source, upwelling in fullness of life.
TDNT on potamos - The primary sense of potamos is “water rushing swiftly by,” hence “flowing water,” “stream,” “river.” The ocean that streams around the earth can be called potamos; from it derive all seas, rivers, springs, and wells. In Egypt potamos with the article denotes the Nile. potamoi are early personified as river gods, often depicted as bulls because the noise and tossing of running water remind of bulls. A figurative use occurs, e.g., streams of fire; the idea is that of violent forces that carry things off with them. he LXX. In the LXX potamos with the article denotes the Nile. More generally the term suggests water with a lasting flow. This is important relative to the river of paradise in Ge 2:10ff. and the eschatological river of Ezek 47:1ff.; Zech. 14:8....The sanctuaries of Asclepius contain sacred springs flowing from under the sanctuary and thus offer some parallel to the depiction of the river as flowing forth from the throne of God and the Lamb. (Rev 22:1-2, cp the primeval river in Eden = Ge 2:10)...(Potamos in Jn 7:38) The use of potamos suggests that the force and fullness of life will remain unrestrictedly at work; streams of living water will flow out by way of the disciples into the world and will be available for the thirsty who believe. Along these lines one can understand the statement that rivers of living water will flow out of those who drink.
Rev 22:1-2 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Tony Garland comments - This is the fountain of the water of life which God promised to the thirsty in the previous chapter (Rev. 21:6). Its ultimate source is God Himself, for it proceeds from His throne (cf. Ps. 36:8-9; 46:4). A similar river will flow from under the threshold of the Millennial Temple (Eze. 47:1-2; Zec. 14:8), but that river does not reach all regions, so sin remains in the Millennium (Eze. 47:11). Now, sin is no more and life abounds in all parts of the new creation.
Potamos - 189x in 177v - Ge 2:10, 13-14; 15:18; 31:21; 36:37; 41:1ff, 17ff; Ex 1:22; 2:3, 5; 4:9; 7:15, 17ff, 24f; 8:3, 5, 9, 11; 17:5; 23:31; Num 13:29; 22:5; 24:6; Deut 1:7; 11:24; Josh 1:4; 4:7; 5:1; 24:2f, 14f; Jdg 3:8, 10; 2 Sam 8:3; 10:16; 1 Kgs 4:20f, 24; 8:65; 2 Kgs 5:12; 17:6; 18:11; 19:24; 23:29; 24:7; 1 Chr 1:48; 5:9, 26; 18:3; 19:16; 2 Chr 9:26; 20:16; 32:4; 35:20; Ezra 4:10f, 17, 20; 5:3, 6; 6:6, 8, 13; 7:21, 25; 8:15, 21, 31, 36; Neh 2:7, 9; Esth 1:1; 10:3; Job 14:11; 22:16; 28:10f; Ps 24:2; 46:4; 65:9; 66:6; 72:8; 74:15; 78:16, 44; 80:11; 89:25; 93:3; 98:8; 105:41; 107:33; 137:1; Prov 9:18; 18:4; Song 8:7; Isa 7:18, 20; 8:7; 11:15; 18:1f, 7; 19:5ff; 27:12; 32:2; 33:21; 41:18; 42:15; 43:2, 19f; 44:27; 47:2; 48:18; 50:2; 59:19; 66:12; Jer 2:18; 13:7; 46:2, 7f, 10; Ezek 1:1, 3; 3:15, 23; 10:15, 20, 22; 29:3ff, 9f; 30:12; 31:4, 15; 32:2, 14; 43:3; 47:6f, 9, 12; Dan 4:1; 7:10; 10:4; 12:5ff; Amos 8:8; 9:5; Jonah 2:3; Mic 7:12; Nah 1:4; 2:6; 3:8; Hab 3:8f; Zeph 3:10; Zech 9:10; 10:11
Ps 46:4 There is a river (Heb = nahar; Lxx = potamos0 whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
Ralph Erskine has an interesting comment - What is the river that makes glad the city of God? I answer, God himself is the river, as in the following verse, "God is in the midst of her." 1. God the Father is the river: "For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." Jer 2:13. 2. God the Son is the river, the fountain of salvation: "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." Zec 13:1. 3. God the Spirit is the river: "He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Joh 7:38 4:14. What are the streams of this river? Answerâ€”the perfections of God, the fulness of Christ, the operations of the Spirit, and these running in the channel of the covenant of promise.
Scriptural Chain for Living (running, flowing) water - The Hebrew phrase in each of the follwing passages is literally "'al-mayim hayyim" = "water living" and in the Lxx the word for "living" (Hebrew = hayyim) is translated with the verb zoa = to live. And so we see this beautiful phrase scattered from Genesis to Revelation. First use = Ge 26:19 = "a well of living water" (Young's Literal) > Lev 14:5-6, 50, 51, 52, Lev 15:13 = "running water" > Nu 19:17 = "flowing water" > Song 4:15 = "fresh water" > Jer 2:13 "living waters" > Jer 17:13 = "living water" > Zec 14:8 = "living waters" > Jn 4:10 = "living water" > Jn 4:14 = " well of water springing up to eternal life" > Jn 7:38 "living water" > Rev 7:17 = "springs of the water of life" > Rev 21:6 = "the spring of the water of life without cost" > Rev 22:1 = " river of the water of life" > Rev 22:17 = "take the water of life without cost."
Jesus promises we will have rivers of living water flowing through us - Are our lives truly like this? Do fresh springs flow out of us day after day? If not, why not? The answer is simple—there can be no outflow unless there is an intake. This is the rhythm of the Holy Spirit—intake and outflow. If there is more intake than outflow, then the intake stops; if there is more outflow than intake, then the outflow stops. The doors open inward to receive, only to open outward to give. When we come to talk about life in the Spirit, we are not to think in terms of a reservoir which has only limited resources. Life is a channel, attached to infinite resources. The more we draw on these resources, the more we have. There is no danger of exhausting one's resources. We do not have to hold back—for the more we give, the more we have. Living on the overflow is what many of us lack today. A sign could be put up over our individual and collective lives saying, "Life Limited." According to Jesus' promise, however, when the Spirit comes, life is unlimited: "From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water." Not rivulets, not trickles, not brooks, not streams—but rivers. Rivers! O God, help me to link my channel to Your infinite resources. Flow through me until I become a flowing river—no, an overflowing river. In Jesus' name. Amen. (Selwyn Hughes - Every Day with Jesus)
Spurgeon observes that the phrase rivers of living water suggests that the Spirit's "operations are of marvelous power. Brethren...do rivers of living water flow out of you? Notice, first, that this is to be an inward work: the rivers of living water are to flow out of the midst of the man...“Out of his belly," that is, from his heart and soul (cp importance of Pr 4:23). The rivers do not flow out of his mouth: the promised power is not oratory. We have had plenty of words, floods of words; but this is heart work. The source of the rivers is found in the inner life. It is an inward work at its fountain head. It is not a work of talent and ability, and show, and glitter, and glare: it is altogether an inward work. The life (giving) flood is to come out of the man’s inmost self, out of the bowels and essential being of the man. Homage is shown too generally to outward form and external observance, though these soon lose their interest and power; but when the Spirit of God rests within a man He exercises a home rule within him and he gives great attention to what an old divine was wont to call “the home department.” Alas, many neglect the realm within which is the chief province under our care. O my brother in Christ, if you would be useful, begin with yourself. It is out of your very soul that a blessing must come. It cannot come out of you if it is not in you: and it cannot be in you unless God the Holy Spirit places it there. Next, it is life-giving work. Out of the heart of the man, out of the center of his life, are to flow rivers of living water; that is to say, he is instrumentally to communicate to others the divine life. When he speaks, when he prays, when he acts, he shall so speak and pray and act that there shall be going out of him an emanation which is full of the life of grace and godliness. He shall be a light by which others shall see. His life shall be the means of kindling life in other men’s bosoms....Note the plenitude of it. The figure would have been a surprising one if it had said, “Out of him shall flow a river of living water”; but it is not so: it says rivers. Have you ever stood by the side of a very abundant spring? We have some such not far from London. You see the water bubbling up from many little mouths. Observe the sand dancing as the water forces its way from the bottom; and there, just across the road, a mill is turned by the stream which has just been created by the spring, and when the water-wheel is turned you see a veritable river flowing forward to supply father Thames. Yet this is only one river; what would you think if you saw a spring yielding such supplies that a river flowed from it to the north, and a river to the south, a river to the east, and a river to the west; this is the figure before us: rivers of living water flowing out of the living man in all directions. “Ah,” say you, “I have not reached to that.” A point is gained when you know, confess, and deplore your failure. If you say, “I have all things and abound,” I am afraid you will never reach the fulness of the blessing; but if you know something of your failure, the Lord will lead you further. It may be that the spirit of life which comes forth of you is but a trickling brook, or even a few tiny drops; then be sure to confess it, and you will be on the way to a fuller blessing. What a word is this! Rivers of living water!! Oh that all professing Christians were such fountains. See how spontaneous it is: “Out of the midst of him shall flow.” No pumping is required; nothing is said about machinery and hydraulics; the man does not need exciting and stirring up, but, just as he is, influence of the best kind quietly flows out from him. Did you ever hear a great hubbub in the morning, a great outcry, a sounding of trumpets and drums, and did you ever ask, “What is it?” Did a voice reply, “The sun is about to rise, and he is making this noise that all may be aware of it”? No, it shines, but it has nothing to say about it; even so the genuine Christian just goes about flooding the world with blessing, and so far from claiming attention for himself, it may be that he himself is unconscious of what he is effecting. God so blesses him that his leaf does not wither, and whatever he does he prospers, for he is like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in due season: his verdure and fruit are the natural outcome of his vigorous life. Oh, the blessed spontaneity of the work of grace when a man gets into the fulness of it, for then he seems to eat and drink and sleep eternal life, and he spreads a savor of salvation all round. And this is to be perpetual,—not like intermittent springs which burst forth and flow in torrents, and then cease,—but it is to be an every day out gushing. In summer and winter, by day and by night, wherever the man is, he shall be a blessing. As he breathes, he shall breathe benedictions; as he thinks, his mind shall be devising generous things; and when he acts, his acts shall be as though the hand of God were working by the hand of man.
I hope I hear many sighs rising up in the place! I hope I hear friends saying, “Oh that I could get to that.” I want you to attain the fulness of the favor. I pray that we may all get it; for because Jesus Christ is glorified therefore the Holy Spirit is given in this fashion, given more largely to those in the kingdom of heaven than to all those holy men before the Lord’s ascent to his glory. God gives no stinted blessing to celebrate the triumph of his Son: God gives not the Spirit by measure unto him. On such an occasion heaven’s grandest liberality was displayed. Christ is glorified in heaven above, and God would have him glorified in the church below by vouchsafing a baptism of the Holy Ghost to each of us.
IV. THESE OPERATIONS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD ARE EASILY TO BE OBTAINED BY THE LORD’S CHILDREN. Did you say you had not received them? They are to be had, they are to be had at once. First, they are to be had by believing in Jesus. “This He spoke of the Spirit, Who they that believed on Him were to receive.” Do you not see that it is faith which gives us the first drink and causes us to live, and this second more abundant blessing of being ourselves made fountains from which rivers flow comes in the same way? Believe in Christ, for the blessing is to be obtained, not by the works of the law, nor by so much of fasting, and striving, and effort, but by belief in the Lord Jesus for it. With him is the residue of the Spirit. He is prepared to give this to you, ay, to every one of you who believe on His Name.
He will not of course make all of you preachers; for who then would be hearers? If all were preachers the other works of the church would be neglected; but He will give you this favor, that out of you there shall stream a divine influence all round you to bless your children, to bless your servants, to bless the workmen in the house where you are employed, and to bless the street you live in. In proportion as God gives you opportunity these rivers of living water will flow in this channel and in that, and they will be pouring forth from you at all times, if you believe in Jesus for the full blessing, and can by faith receive it.
But there is another thing to be done as well, and that is to pray; and here I want to remind you of those blessed words of the Master, “Everyone that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
You see, there is a distinct promise to the children of God, that their heavenly Father will give them the Holy Spirit if they ask for His power; and that promise is made to be exceedingly strong by the instances joined to it. If there be a promise that God can break (which there is not), this is not the promise, for God has put it in the most forcible and binding way.
I know not how to show you its wonderful force. Did you ever hear of a man who when his child asked for bread gave him a stone? Go to the worst part of London, and will you find a man of that kind? You shall, if you like, get among pirates and murderers, and when a little child cries, “Father, give me a bit of bread and meat,” does the most wicked father fill his own little one’s mouth with stones? Yet the Lord seems to say that this is what he would be doing if he were to deny us the Holy Spirit when we ask him for his necessary working: he would be like one that gave his children stones instead of bread. Do you think the Lord will ever bring himself down to that? But he says, “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” He makes it a stronger case than that of an ordinary parent. The Lord must give us the Spirit when we ask him, for he has herein bound himself by no ordinary pledge. He has used a simile which would bring dishonour on his own name, and that of the very grossest kind, if he did not give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him. Oh, then, let us ask him at once, with all our hearts. Am I not so happy as to have in this audience some who will immediately ask? I pray that some who have never received the Holy Spirit at all may now be led, while I am speaking, to pray, “Blessed Spirit, visit me; lead me to Jesus.” But especially those of you that are the children of God,—to you is this promise especially made. Ask God to make you all that the Spirit of God can make you, not only a satisfied believer who has drunk for himself, but a useful believer, who overflows the neighborhood with blessing.
I see here a number of friends from the country who have come to spend their holiday in London. What a blessing it would be if they went back to their respective churches overflowing; for there are numbers of churches that need flooding; they are dry as a barn-floor, and little dew ever falls on them. Oh that they might be flooded! What a wonderful thing a flood is! Go down to the river, look over the bridge, and see the barges and other craft lying in the mud. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot tug them out to sea. There they lie, dead and motionless as the mud itself. What shall we do with them? What machinery can move them? Have we a great engineer among us who will devise a scheme for lifting these vessels and bearing them down to the river’s mouth? No, it cannot be done. Wait till the tide comes in! What a change! Each vessel walks the water like a thing of life. What a difference between the low tide and the high tide. You cannot stir the boats when the water is gone; but when the tide is at the full see how readily they move; a little child may push them with his hand. Oh, for a flood of grace. The Lord send to all our churches a great springtide! Then the indolent will be active enough, and those who were half dead will be full of energy. I know that in this particular dock several vessels are lying that I should like to float, but I cannot stir them. They neither work for God nor come out to the prayer-meetings, nor give of their substance to spread the gospel. If the flood would come you would see what they are capable of: they would be active, fervent, generous, abounding in every good word and work. So may it be! So may it be! May springs begin to flow in all our churches, and may all of you who hear me this day get your share of the streams. Oh that the Lord may now fill you and then send you home bearing a flood of grace with you. It sounds oddly to speak of a man’s carrying home a flood within him, and yet I hope it will be so, and that out of you shall flow rivers of living water. So may God grant for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Spurgeon in Power for You (some similar thoughts to preceding note) - Beloved believers, notwithstanding all that the Spirit of God has already done in us, it is very possible that we have missed a large part of the blessing which He is willing to give, for He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). We have already come to Jesus, and we have drunk of the life-giving stream. Our thirst is quenched, and we are made to live in Him. Is this all? Now that we are living in Him and rejoicing to do so, have we come to the end of the matter? Assuredly not. We have reached as far as that first exhortation of the Master: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37). However, do you think that the generality of the church of God has ever advanced to the next verse: “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38)? I think I am not going beyond the grievous truth if I say that only here and there will you find men and women who have believed up to that point. Their thirst is quenched, as I have said, and they live. Because Jesus lives, they will live also, but health and vigor they do not have. They have life, but they do not have “it more abundantly” (John 10:10). They have little life with which to act upon others. They have no energy welling up and overflowing to go streaming out of them like rivers. Brothers and sisters, let us go in to get from God all that God will give us. Let us set our hearts upon this, that we mean to have by God’s help all that the infinite goodness of God is ready to bestow. Let us not be satisfied with the sip that saves, but let us go on to the baptism which buries the flesh and raises us in the likeness of the risen Lord. Let us seek that baptism into the Holy Spirit and into fire which makes us spiritual and sets us all on flame with zeal for the glory of God and eagerness for usefulness by which that glory may be increased among the sons of men.
James Smith - The Spirit dwelling in us is to be as an unfailing fountain to others. But the outflow will only be in proportion to the springing up within. Spring up, O well!
Steven Cole on the question "Do I experience rivers of living water?" -- This is "both convicting and hope-producing. They are convicting because none of us, if we’re honest, can say, “Yes, those words nail it! That’s exactly how to describe my life since becoming a Christian!” Honesty forces me to say, “Well, there has usually been a trickle of living water, although there have been some droughts where even the trickle has ceased! Occasionally, there has been a creek of living water. But ever-flowing, abundant rivers (plural)? It would be a stretch to describe my Christian life like that!” So Jesus’ words convict me with the barrenness of my walk with Him. But Jesus’ words also give me hope. If my life doesn’t match His description here, it can! So can yours! This is a promise from the Son of God to all who will come to Him and drink: Out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living water. It describes, as Calvin points out, an ideal that none of us can possess perfectly in the present life because of indwelling sin and because of differing measures of faith. But it’s an ideal in which we can make progress as we walk with the Lord. We really can experience consistent fullness of joy in Him that flows from us to others. And so we should have hope because He who began the good work of salvation in us will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6). But we need to press on toward the goal (Phil. 3:12-16).
Rivers - Not just a river but rivers plural, a supernatural supply! Rivers "Depict fullness of blessing, just as another picture, "much fruit," does in John 15:4-8 (and cf. Gal 5:22-23, Eph 5:17-21)." (Jim Rosscup - Exposition on Prayer)
(Ps 36:8) They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
Spurgeon - Happy is the soul that can drink in the sumptuous dainties of the gospel - nothing can so completely fill the soul.
Living water - This is a striking metaphor in the arid, water poor middle east. Living water literally pictured water which was actively flowing as from a spring or a river. Indeed, living water is water that gives life, so what Jesus is saying is that the Holy Spirit is life giving! In the previous chapter Jesus had taught "It is the Spirit Who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." (John 6:63) Notice how Jesus links the Holy Spirit with the Holy Word in this John 6 passage! The practical application is clear -- Are you in the Word, so that Spirit in you might use that Word to transform your spiritual life from glory to glory into the image of the Son (2Cor 3:18)? Stated another way, you will have no growth (maturation) in your spiritual life unless you like a new born babe are longing for the pure milk of the Word, that by it you might grow in respect to salvation (as the Spirit uses that Word to give you life!) (1Pe 2:2).
Spurgeon on wells springing up (Jn 4:14) and rivers of living water, both of which seem to be "drying up" in our lives - It is regarded by many as a law of nature, that our first love must grow cold, and our early zeal must necessarily decline. I do not believe it for a moment. "the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day." (Pr 4:18) and, were we watchful and careful to live near to God, there is no reason why our spiritual life should not continuously make progress both in strength and beauty. There is no inherent necessity in the divine life itself compelling it to decline, for is it not written, "It shall be in him a well of Water, springing up unto everlasting life:" (Jn 4:14) "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (Jn 7:38) Grace is a living and incorruptible seed that liveth and abideth for ever, and there is nowhere impressed upon the divine life a law of pining and decay. If we do falter and faint in the onward path, it is our sin, and it is doubly sinful to forge excuses for it. It is not to be laid upon the back of some mysterious necessity of the new nature that it should be so, but it is to be brought as a charge against ourselves. (Flashes of Thought)
Tony Evans commenting on Jesus depiction of the Holy Spirit as Living Water reminds us that "When He (the Holy Spirit) dominates your life, He will make you more alive than you ever thought you could be. You will not only be fulfilled yourself, but the rivers of living water flowing out of you will overflow so others can drink from your life as well. One reason we have so little spiritual power in the church of Jesus Christ today is that we are not thirsty Christians. God only satisfies folk who are thirsty. If you are not thirsty, you don’t drink. What we need is to develop our spiritual thirst. We need a generation of Christians who are passionate for Christ. Unless that is your goal, studying the Bible is a waste of time; coming to church will make little or no difference in your life. The life-giving, thirst-quenching fellowship of the Holy Spirit is enjoyed where the passion of Christ is sought. (Theology You Can Count On; Moody Publishers, 2008).
Ray Pritchard on the Holy Spirit as Living Water - Water is one of the most common symbols for the Holy Spirit in the Bible. Since water is indispensable for human life, the phrase “living water” is an apt metaphor for the Spirit’s work in the human heart. Zechariah 14:8 looks forward to a time after the return of Christ when the climate and geography of earth will be changed as Jesus Christ sets up His kingdom on the earth. There will be a great earthquake, splitting the Mount of Olives in two (Zech 4:4), followed by enormous changes in the normal pattern of daytime and nighttime (Zech 4:6–7). On that day “living water” will flow from Jerusalem. This is no doubt both literal and symbolic. There will be a literal river, but the river will symbolize the free flow of the Spirit throughout the entire earth. Jesus used this word picture in John 4 during His conversation with the woman at the well. Although she came seeking literal water, He promised to give her “living water” which would satisfy her thirst forever (John 4:10). That “living water” becomes a “spring of water” within the heart of the believer, welling up to eternal life. As the water rises rapidly in the well, it comes to the surface and flows over the edges. What a wonderful picture of how the Spirit works in the human heart. Those who come to Christ find “living water” that satisfies the deep thirst within. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, that “living water” produces a new life that eventually bubbles to the surface and becomes evident to others. Living water won’t become stagnant. It always produces a dynamic, abundant, exciting new life. Water is also necessary for cleansing. Ephesians 5:26 pictures this aspect of the Spirit’s work when it mentions the “washing with water through the Word.” The Word is the cleansing agent; the Spirit is the cleansing power. As the Spirit applies the Word to our lives, we are cleansed from the stain of sin and the filth of the world. The Holy Spirit flows through believers like a mighty river of living water, bringing new life and providing deep, inner cleansing. As we yield ourselves to Christ, the abundance of His life (the “living water”) flows out to those around us. River of God, I live in a dry, barren land. All around me men and women die of thirst. Make me a channel of living water to those who desperately need it. Amen. (Names of the Holy Spirit)
In the OT Jehovah issues a different cry “Be appalled, O heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate,” declares the LORD. For (term of explanation - what's it explaining?) My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water." (Jer 2:12-13)
Thirsty - What do you thirst for in this world? Tell me what you like, what you are thirsty for and I will tell you what you are!
Ray Pritchard - If we are dying in the desert, the most important thing in the world is a cup of cold water. Jesus promises more than a cup. He promises a never ending flow of clear, cool, clean living water. Streams without pollution. Rivers that will never run dry. (Water, Wine, Wind, Fire - Keep Believing Ministries)
Living water - Jesus used the same metaphor, living water, to describe Himself in His encounter with the Samaritan woman -
John Piper on rivers of living water - Some images are attractive; some are repulsive. This image is attractive. Most people, I think, would like their heart to be like a deep mountain spring overflowing in rivers of living water. Even before we have a clear idea of what this image is referring to, we yearn for it. Because it seems to imply fullness and completeness to the point of overflowing. It implies sweet coolness and refreshment. It implies moisture and growth and life. But Jesus is not merely a poet evoking emotions by images. He is that, but much more. These very evocative words refer to something real, something that would be true even if we laughed it to scorn or if we ceased to exist. The words are not meant to make us feel good because of their beauty and their associations. They are meant to put us in touch with something solid and powerful and living outside ourselves. Jesus is offering a very desirable experience, but he is offering it only as the result of some real, personal dealings between us and him. And he is no mere image; he is as real today as he was then, as real and personal as the person next to you in the pew. No experience is of any value whatever if it doesn't have to do with this real and living Jesus. Our experience is essential, but it will slip through our fingers and disappear if we focus on the experience instead of on Jesus. So in thinking about this text we must talk about our experience, but it will be all in vain if Jesus doesn't shine through as distinct and powerful and beautiful over all. (Rivers From the Heart - Desiring God)
From a Puritan's prayer in the Valley of Vision - "May I rejoice that, while men die, the Lord lives; that, while all creatures are broken reeds, empty cisterns, fading flowers, withering grass, he is the Rock of Ages, the Fountain of living waters."
Robert Neighbour laments - Alas, how many Christians are clouds without rain, cisterns without water, fountains without depth!...it is from Christ, primarily, that the Living Waters flow. He is the source of all blessing. Of course, the Waters likewise flow from us as we receive them from Him, and gave them to others. We are not the source of that Living Water, that carries blessings whithersoever it goes; we are merely the channels through which they flow. (Living Water Commentary)
Scripture Chain on "living water" (flowing water) - The first use of "living water," is translated "flowing water" which in Hebrew is the phrase "chay mayim" which literally is "living water". This beautiful phrase, flowing (living) water occurs in Lev 14:5,6, 50, 51, 52, 15:13 = running water > Nu 19:17 = flowing water > Song 4:15 = fresh water > Jer 2:13 = living waters > Jer 17:13 = living water > Zech 14:8 = living waters from Jerusalem during 1000 year reign of Messiah. A similar phrase is found in Jn 4:10,11,13,14, 7:37,38, and finally in Rev 7:17, 21:6, 22:1,22:17, the latter Scriptures referring to the NEW HEAVEN & NEW EARTH! And so we see that the phrase "chay mayim" or Living Water is a beautiful picture of our Eternal Life in Christ, the Source of all Life. This picture of LIVING WATER is especially dramatic in the Mid East which has a paucity of water. Jerusalem for example has only one source of "living (flowing) water," the Gihon ("Breaking, Gushing Forth") Spring (2Chr 32:30) which flow down Hezekiah's underground tunnel and empty into the Pool of Siloam. [Wikipedia Note on Gihon Spring - One of the world's major intermittent springs—and a reliable water source that made human settlement possible in ancient Jerusalem—the spring was not only used for drinking water, but also initially for irrigation of gardens in the adjacent Kidron Valley which provided a food source for the ancient settlement.] Other water was collected in cisterns during the infrequent rains and was not flowing (accounting for God's use in Jer 2:13, a picture with which the Jews would have been very familiar.) Indeed, sources of "living water" were rare and their discovery was accompanied by great rejoicing. How tragic that God's people rejected His offer of life giving water in Christ, the ultimate Source of soul satiation and jubilation!
Living Water (Read: Jeremiah 2:4-13) - Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink." —John 7:37 - Lee Atwater was a well-known figure in US politics. He engineered the successful 1988 presidential campaign of George H. W. Bush and was the head of the Republican National Committee (1988-1991). But in the midst of all his activities he developed an inoperable brain tumor and died at the age of 40. During his illness, Atwater came to realize that wealth, honor, and power are not life’s supreme values. Admitting to a deep emptiness within himself, he urged people to work at filling up the “spiritual vacuum in American society.” In an insightful comment, he confessed, “My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what is missing in me—a little heart, a lot of brotherhood.” In his day, Jeremiah perceived that same kind of vacuum in many of his fellow Israelites. He warned them against the danger of personal and national emptiness. They were digging cisterns, he said, “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). What about your own life? Is it spiritually dried up? Ask Jesus, the fountain of living water (John 7:37), to fill you with His presence. Then joy and peace will begin to bubble up and even overflow. By Vernon C. Grounds
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
Rivers Of Living Water - Just below the snowy peak of Mt. Shasta, near the headwaters of the Sacramento River in California, an icy-cold underground spring gushes out of the side of a cliff. My brother, who used to live there, says that people flock there to fill their jugs with the refreshing liquid. Water quenches our thirst and sustains our life. In Scripture, water serves as a word picture of the sufficiency of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ day, during the Feast of Tabernacles a choir sang while a priest filled a gold pitcher with water and poured it out. This reminded all those present of the water that gushed from the rock during the wilderness wanderings (Nu 20:8-11 Ed Note: Read Nu 20:12 describing God's punishment. The first striking of the rock is found in Ex 17:6 ["strike" = Hebrew - nakah = to smite; Lxx = patasso = to physically strike a blow, to inflict a fatal blow - Mt 26:31], cp 1Cor 10:4). As this ritual was taking place, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). This source is the Holy Spirit, who is like a well of satisfaction (Jn 7:39). Earlier, the Lord had made the dramatic claim that the believer would have a continual source of spiritual refreshment (Jn 4:14). Are you thirsty today? Confess your sin, and Christ will fill you with His Spirit. As you yield to His will, He will graciously fill you with living water springing up to eternal life. - Dennis Fisher (Our Daily Bread)
Gracious and Almighty Savior,
LIVING WATER - For years, scientists in New Mexico didn’t know why there was excess water in the Rio Grande River. After several years of searching, they have discovered one of the unknown water sources. They recently found the largest spring to date, a few miles south of the Colorado border, near Ute Mountain in the upper Rio Grande basin. The water source, Lava Tube Spring, has a crater 12 feet deep and bubbles 6,000 gallons of water in the river. The Lava Tube is the largest of 170 springs discovered to date along the 80-mile stretch of the upper river. --NM Tech scientists find large Rio Grande spring; http:www.kcbd.comGlobalstory.asp?S=11345172 ; October 20, 2009, Illustration by Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell. Jesus can use our lives as spring to provide living water to our world, just like these springs provide water for the thirsty cities of the southwest
Adam Porte has some interesting comments on "living water" and ritual baths - MIQVAH, MIQVEH [מִקְוָה miqwah, מִקְוֶה miqweh]. (See discussion and picture of a Mikveh) A large ritual bath, deep enough to allow complete immersion, dug into bedrock and waterproofed by plastering. Most miqvaoth (plural of miqvah) have steps to facilitate entry and exit. Archaeologists have found many miqvaoth in Jerusalem, Judea, and Galilee. Ritual impurity could often be removed by “bathing” (Lev 15:13), which Jews understood to mean bodily immersion in “living” water (a spring, stream, or ocean) or in a miqvah that collected “living” water. Thus John the Baptist baptized people in the “living” water of the Jordan that could restore them to ritual purity. The Christian rite of baptism derives from this Jewish custom and originally Christians, too, preferred baptism in “living” water (Did. 7). (New Interpreter's Dictionary)
The Bible and The Land adds that "Judaism distinguished between “living” water and common water. In fact, the oral law of early Judaism (the Mishnah) devoted an entire chapter to the classification of types of water for special uses (Mikva’ot). Its first section even classifies six grades of water and their religious value! Living water is not a reference to “moving” water or “fresh” water per se. Living water is water that has come to us directly from the hand of God (e.g., rain, a spring, a river). It is water that has not been “ported” or “lifted” by human hand—as stored water has—and so carries a divine potency (Mishnah, Mikva’ot 3–4). Of course, such living water is generally free and moving, but that character is secondary to its origin.....In fact, this living water was considered to be so potent that only a drop of it was required to transform an entire bath of common water into something that would cleanse ritually. Living water had the power to cleanse and purify....Such living water symbolized the life-giving, cleansing work that only comes from God. Among some rabbis, it came to even represent the Holy Spirit. Isaiah makes good use of this imagery to describe what happens when the Lord visits people whose lives are like drought-stricken land (Isa 44:3, cp Isa 55:1, 58:11)"
Illustration - Plain Living Water - Millions of weary hearts thirst for the plain living water. I heard recently of a taster in a bottling plant who was moving along blind-folded, testing new fancy concoctions. A glass of plain drinking water had been put at the end of the row to be tested. The taster moved along smacking his lips. When he tried the water he observed, "I don't know what this is but it won't sell!" Well, plain water may not sell but people drink it more than all the pop and colas. I think I'll stick to the plain Living Water, for no substitute has ever come along that works. (Vance Havner - Lord of What's Left)
Wiersbe - You never solve your problems by blaming other people. Israel’s real problem was unbelief and a desire to go back to the old life. Every difficulty you meet is an opportunity for testing yourself and trusting your Lord, for going forward or going backward. The rock pictures Jesus Christ who was smitten for us (1 Cor. 10:4) that we might have the living water of the Holy Spirit within (John 7:37-39).
Vance Havner - We did not have a great many things in our home on the hill, but we did have the best drinking water for miles around. It came from a deep well, dug through rock. I have traversed this country in all directions and discovered that one of the hardest things to come by in this progressive age is a good drink of water. Whatever the purifiers may have done to the quality, they have certainly succeeded in flattening the taste. It appears that they have failed even in purifying it for water pollution has become a national problem. When I get back to the old home (I still own it), the first thing I want is a drink of water. I know what David meant when he longed for a drink from the well of Bethlehem. I am reminded, furthermore, that this poor world has forsaken "the fountain of living waters, and has hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13). This generation has drunk itself into delirium tremens and it looks as though it might wind up as "Alcoholics Unanimous." It has surfeited itself with a thousand fancy concoctions of its own devising. Meanwhile the Saviour says, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (John 7:37). "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country" (Proverbs 25:25). Here is the best drink of water of all—the good news of the gospel—when we drink from that stream, from within us shall flow rivers of living water. I am glad that I started out drinking good water from an old oaken bucket. I am glad that I drank early of the living water. Whoever drinks of that water shall never thirst again: "... whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17). (It is Toward Evening)
Vance Havner - (It is) painfully evident today: thousands of Christians, believers, saved people, whose actual, daily experience is more like the emptied pitcher from Siloam than it is like the living fountain with its rivers of water. As I go about over the land, I am continually meeting preachers grieved over a defective experience, who are convinced that they have missed something and that surely there must be more in the filling of the Spirit than they have ever understood. They are good men, able men, devout men, but many of them seem to have stopped short of that utter abandon in which men lose themselves to become blazing firebrands for God, flaming torches by which He sets on fire a smug and sanctimonious church and awakens to burning conviction a sleeping world. Some are willing to miss a blessing rather than give up a prejudice, but others are worried and deeply conscious that their fire is not Pentecostal fire but painted fire which does not burn! I am continually meeting Christians whose experience is like getting all of a story except the point. Like the Jews at the feast, they have a happy day once in a while when they "scale the utmost height and catch a gleam of glory bright," but these are few and far between and soon "a sense of things real comes doubly strong." After one of his sermons, Andrew Murray asked a very pious woman, "How are you going on?" Her answer was, "Oh, just the way it always is, sometimes light and sometimes dark." "My dear sister," he asked, "where is that in the Bible?" She said, "We have day and night in nature, and just so it is in our souls." "No, no," he replied, "in the Bible we read, 'Thy sun shall no more go down.'" But most believers today live in an eclipse!
Donald Grey Barnhouse - Christ once said, “He that believeth on me … out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38), and we are told that He spake this of the Holy Spirit. Now it is evident that this statement is not true of the belief of all Christians. Not all believers are fountains of blessing to others. All Christians are like the Dead Sea or the Sea of Galilee. There is a vast difference between the two. The Dead Sea is mineral-filled water that would kill every living thing that was near it. The Sea of Galilee is teeming with fish and supports many people from its depths. Thus it is with Christians. (God’s Remedy: Romans 3:21–4:1–25)
In the early church, “living water,” or “water of life,” was used as a metaphor for prophetic inspiration (Ignatius Rom. 7:2), baptism (Justin Dial. 14.1), Christ (Justin Dial. 69.6), the teaching of Christ (Clement of Alex. Strom. 7.16), and the Holy Spirit (Didymus Trin. 2.22; PGL, 1425). (WBC)
RIVERS OF LIVING WATER - On April 21, 2006, 47-year-old Julio Franco became the oldest player in Major League Baseball history to hit a home run. Just a week later, on April 27, he became the oldest player in 97 years to steal a base. Franco's longevity met suspicion from players and outsiders who doubt that he has stayed in top shape through natural training alone. Retired outfielder Andy Van Slyke accused Franco of using steroids. Franco's response demonstrated the true source of his remarkable life: “Tell Andy Van Slyke he's right—I'm on the best juice there is. I'm juiced up every day, and the name of my juice is Jesus. I'm on his power, his wisdom, his understanding. Andy Van Slyke is right, but the thing he didn't mention was what kind of steroids I'm on. Next time you talk to him, tell him the steroid I'm on is Jesus of Nazareth.” (Rivers of Living Water John 7- - David York)
Dry Spells - There should never be “dry spells” in the Christian life. God said that He would be like an artesian well in the life of a believer. Artesian wells bubbled forth with a cold, fresh, never-ending supply of water from the depths of the earth, quenching any thirst and always satisfying. This is the picture of the spiritual refreshment that belongs to the person in whom the Holy Spirit resides. Have you ever heard people say they are experiencing a dry spell in their Christian life? What are they saying? Are they saying that the Lord ran out of water? It should never cross your mind that the fountain of living waters residing within you should ever be reduced to a trickle. You don't need to run all over the country trying to find sources of spiritual refreshment. Conferences, retreats, and books can all bring encouragement, but if you are a Christian, the source of living water already resides within you. Have you exchanged the living fountain for man-made cisterns that cannot hold water? Why would you exchange an artesian well for a broken water tank? Artesian wells do not dry up. Broken cisterns do. If you are experiencing spiritual dryness right now, is it because you have been attempting to find your source of spiritual refreshment from man-made sources, which will fail you every time? Jesus extended an invitation to you when He said: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). Have you been refreshed by the living water only Jesus can provide? (Blackaby, Henry and Richard Blackaby, Experiencing God Day by Day)
Avoid Dehydration - A couple of times in the past few years I’ve experienced dehydration and, believe me, it is not something I want to repeat. It happened once after I suffered a torn hamstring while cross-country skiing, and another time in the 115-degree heat of an Israeli desert. Both times I experienced dizziness, disorientation, loss of clear vision, and a host of other symptoms. I learned the hard way that water is vital to maintaining my well-being.
My experience with dehydration gives me a new appreciation for Jesus’ invitation: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). His announcement was dramatic, particularly in terms of the timing. John notes that it was the last day of the “great feast”—the annual festival commemorating the wandering of the Jews in the wilderness—which climaxed with a ceremonial pouring of water down the temple steps to recall God’s provision of water for the thirsty wanderers. At that point, Jesus rose and proclaimed that He is the water we all desperately need.
Living like we really need Jesus—talking to Him and depending on His wisdom—is vital to our spiritual well-being. So, stay connected to Jesus, for He alone can satisfy your thirsty soul! -- Joe Stowell (Our Daily Bread)
Dear Lord, forgive me for thinking that I can do life
Come to Jesus for the refreshing power of His living water.
Really Thirsty (Read: Psalm 42) - As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. —Psalm 42:1
Have you ever been really thirsty? Years ago, I visited my sister Kathy in Mali, West Africa. During an afternoon of seeing the sights, the temperature had risen far above 100ºF. Parched, I told her, “Hey, I need something to drink.” When Kathy told me she had forgotten to bring along a supply of filtered water, I began to get a bit desperate. The longer we drove, the more I wondered what it was like to truly die of thirst. Finally, Kathy said, “I know where we can go,” as she drove up to the gate of an embassy. Inside I beheld the most beautiful sight—a water cooler! I grabbed one of the tiny paper cups and filled it again and again. My body had been deprived too long and now required lots of liquid to reverse the effects of dehydration. The psalmist compared physical thirst with spiritual thirst: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God” (Ps. 42:1). His thirst was that of a desperate longing for God—the one and only living God (Ps 42:2).
Do you long for something this world can’t provide? This dissatisfaction is a thirst of the soul for God. Run to the One who alone can quench that thirst. “He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Ps. 107:9). By Cindy Hess Kasper (Our Daily Bread)
My hunger for the truth He satisfies;
The Old Windmill (Read: Galatians 6:6-10) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. —John 7:38 - A man who grew up on a ranch in West Texas tells about a rickety, old windmill that stood alongside his family’s barn and pumped water to their place. It was the only source of water for miles. In a strong wind the windmill worked well, but in a light breeze it wouldn’t turn. It required manually turning the vane until the fan faced directly into the wind. Only when properly positioned did the windmill supply water to the ranch.
I think of that story when I meet with pastors from small churches in remote areas. Many feel isolated and unsupported—caregivers for whom no one seems to care. As a consequence, they grow weary and struggle to bring life-giving water to their flock. I like to tell them about the old windmill and our need to daily reposition ourselves—to intentionally turn toward the Lord and His Word and to drink deeply from Him who is the source of living water.
What’s true for pastors is true for all. Service for God flows from within, outward. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, . . . out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). It’s when God speaks to our depths that we are able to touch the lives of others. To refresh others, let’s return to the Source of life regularly. By David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread)
When our hearts grow weary,
When you’re weary in life’s struggles, find strength in the Lord.
Springs Of Living Water (Read: John 4:5-15, John 7:38) - In 1896, Sherwood Eddy enthusiastically began his ministry as a missionary to India. But after just a year he was ready to quit—his energy depleted, his spirit broken. One morning after a sleepless night he begged God for help. Then he remembered the promise of Jesus to the woman at Jacob’s well, “The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn. 4:14). Eddy wrote, “I resolved to stop drawing on myself so constantly and begin instead drawing on God.” From then on he daily set aside time for prayerfully drinking from the well that never runs dry—the inexhaustible, soul-renewing wellspring of God’s grace. “Since that day,” Eddy said, “I have known not one hour of darkness and despair. The eternal God has been my refuge, and underneath me I have felt the everlasting arms.” No matter how much energy or talent we have, sooner or later we discover that the well of our personal resources is running dry. But when Christ, the source of living water (Ed: And His Spirit), indwells our lives, we aren’t locked into the drudgery of drawing on our human abilities. Jesus becomes our unfailing Source of spiritual renewal. We find that when we have nothing left, He is the well that never runs dry. - Vernon C. Grounds (Our Daily Bread)
You may have to lose everything
Fresh Water - In the middle ages, people themselves from the enemy. But one of the problems was the water supply. If the enemy surrounded them, they would not have access to life-giving springs and fresh-flowing streams to quench their thirst. Their defeat would be just a matter of time. They built castles where they could flee for safety and defend The problem was solved in the castle of Edinburgh, however. It was constructed above an underground spring that gushed forth with all the fresh water the besieged defenders would ever need. Nourished from within, they were practically invulnerable. When Jesus spoke about living water to a woman of Samaria He was referring to an inner source of spiritual refreshment—a living water that would quench forever the God-thirst of a human soul in search of forgiveness and life. Only in Him can our arid and parched lives be refreshed. —D C Egner (Our Daily Bread)
Water For The World (Read: Jn 4:7-15, 7:38) - Although 70 percent of the world is covered by water, less than 1 percent of it is drinkable by humans. Water conservation and sanitation are crucial matters in many parts of the world, as all life depends on having sanitary water.
Jesus went out of His way to introduce a lost woman to another kind of life-giving water. He deliberately chose to go to a town in Samaria, a place where no respectable rabbi would set foot. There, He told this woman about “living water.” Those who drink of it, He said, “will never thirst.” It will “become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
The living water is Jesus Himself. Those who receive Him have eternal life (Jn 4:14). But the living water He provides also serves another function. Jesus said of those who receive it: “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (Jn 7:38). The living water that refreshes us is to refresh others also. As fresh-water distribution is uneven in the world, so too is the distribution of living water. Many people do not know followers of Jesus who really care about them. It is our privilege to share Him. Christ is, after all, the living water for whom people are thirsting. -- C. P. Hia (Our Daily Bread)
Lord Jesus, I want to live for You. May Your
Jesus is a never-ending supply of living water
Dead-Sea Christians - The Dead Sea is so salty that it contains no fish or plant life. What accounts for this unusual condition? There are absolutely no outlets! A great volume of water pours into this area, but nothing flows out. Many inlets plus no outlets equals a dead sea.
This law of nature may also be applied to the child of God, and it explains why many believers are so unfruitful and lacking in spiritual vitality. It’s possible for some people to attend Bible conferences, listen to religious broadcasts, study the Scriptures, and continually take in the Word as it is preached from the pulpit, and yet seem lifeless and unproductive in their Christian lives. Such individuals are like the Dead Sea. They have several “inlets” but no “outlets.” To be vibrant and useful believers, we must not only “take in” all we can, but we must also “give out” in service to others!
May the Lord make us refreshing fountains where thirsty souls may drink. Indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we possess the “water of life” and can be channels of blessing to those in need. From hearts of love, let us pour out to others what we have first received from God. If we do, we will never become Dead-Sea Christians.-- Richard De Haan (Our Daily Bread)
The Old Windmill - A man who grew up on a ranch in West Texas tells about a rickety, old windmill that stood alongside his family’s barn and pumped water to their place. It was the only source of water for miles. In a strong wind the windmill worked well, but in a light breeze it wouldn’t turn. It required manually turning the vane until the fan faced directly into the wind. Only when properly positioned did the windmill supply water to the ranch.
I think of that story when I meet with pastors from small churches in remote areas. Many feel isolated and unsupported—caregivers for whom no one seems to care. As a consequence, they grow weary and struggle to bring life-giving water to their flock. I like to tell them about the old windmill and our need to daily reposition ourselves—to intentionally turn toward the Lord and His Word and to drink deeply from Him who is the source of living water. What’s true for pastors is true for all. Service for God flows from within, outward. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, . . . out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). It’s when God speaks to our depths that we are able to touch the lives of others. To refresh others, let’s return to the Source of life regularly. -- David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread)
When our hearts grow weary,
When you’re weary in life’s struggles,
Finding The Flow - While using a computer to edit a video presentation, a colleague and I were greeted one morning by the on-screen error message: UNABLE TO FIND THE FLOW. Whatever the software program meant by those words, it brought to mind the popular saying, “Go with the flow.” To some people that means behaving as most other people do without trying to swim against the current of the culture. To others it speaks of being more accepting of circumstances without trying to control everything that happens. But for followers of the Lord, there’s another dimension of going with the flow. Jesus said: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). Christ spoke of the Holy Spirit, Who would make His home in every believer. In a very real sense, when we invite Christ into our lives, the Flow finds us and we find the Flow. From then on, we are recipients and conduits of living water—the eternal source of thirst-quenching satisfaction for our souls. The indwelling Holy Spirit carries us along by a power and purpose greater than ourselves. As channels of God’s living water, we are free to go with His flow. - David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread) (Bolding added)
Father, thank You for Your Spirit,
What Jesus accomplished for us,
Overflowing Rivers - We are saved to tell others! When the Lord redeems us, He so fills us with "living water" that, if we are normal Christians, we overflow to others in a witness that produces results for God. There recently came to my attention the true story of an amputee soul winner in Melbourne, Australia, who has a most remarkable ministry. A pastor who visited this crippled woman writes,
When this girl was 18, she was seized with a dreadful affliction and the doctor said that to save her life he must take off her foot. Next the other foot was removed. The disease continued to spread, and her legs had to be amputated at the hips. Then the malady broke out in her hands. And by the time I saw Miss Higgins, all that remained of her was just the trunk of her body. For 15 years now she has been in this condition. I went to offer comfort, but I did not know how to speak to her or what to say. I found the walls of her room covered with texts, all of them radiating joy, and peace, and power. She explained that one day while lying in bed she inquired of the Lord what a total amputee could possibly do for Him. Then an inspiration came to her. Calling a friend of hers, who was a carpenter, she had him construct a device to fit her shoulder, and attach to it an extension holding a fountain pen. Then she began to write letters witnessing to the grace of God. She had to do it entirely with body movement, yet her penmanship was beautiful. She has now received over 1500 replies from individuals who have been brought to Christ through the letters she produced in that way." The preacher said to her; "How do you do it?" and she smilingly replied, "You know Jesus said of His own that out of them `shall flow rivers of living water.' I believe in Him, and He has helped me to overflow to others."
Does not that amputee soul winner put all of us to shame? Have you tried to bring even one lost sheep into the Savior's fold? If not, why not? (Our Daily Bread)
We are not storerooms, but channels,
God's Healthy Trees - A healthy tree consists of up to eighty percent moisture. It draws large quantities of water through its root system or absorbs it from dew and rain. In his book "As a Tree Grows", W. Phillip Keller says, "the tree does not hoard this moisture for itself. The vast network of running roots beneath the soil often exceeds the outspread canopy of trunk, branches, and leaves spread to the sky. And vast quantities of water are lifted through the framework of the tree to be transpired into the surrounding air. This moisture, along with the discharge of oxygen, is what gives the forest atmosphere such a fresh fragrance." Christians use the water of life in much the same way. In John 7:38, Jesus said that rivers of living water will flow from the heart of the one who believes in Him. He was referring to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in and through us. The Spirit, who we receive when we trust the Lord Jesus as our Savior, empowers and refreshes us, which enables us to help others. Our part is to read and study God's Word, to receive cleansing and renewal through confession, and to obey the Lord. Then, as we depend on the Holy Spirit, "living water" flows through us and provides refreshment and goodness to people around us. —D C Egner (Our Daily Bread)
Only the Living Water can quench the driving thirst of the soul.
Oswald Chambers - The discipline of Divine loyalty is not that I am true to a doctrine, but so true to Jesus that other people are nourished in the knowledge of Him. Get rid of the idea that you must do good things, and remember what Jesus says, if you believe on Me, out of you will flow rivers of living water. In the Christian life it is never “Do, do,” but “Be, be, and I will do through you.” The type of man produced by the Spirit of Jesus is the one who bears a growing family likeness to Jesus. (The Place of Help)
Oswald Chambers - The teaching of Jesus is, “Be absorbed with Me, and out of you will flow rivers of living water” If we are paying attention to the Source, rivers of living water will pour out of us, but immediately we stop paying attention to the Source, the outflow begins to dry up. We have nothing to do with our “usability,” but only with our relationship to Jesus Christ, nothing must be allowed to come in between. (If thou wilt be perfect: talks on spiritual philosophy)
Oswald Chambers on rivers of living water - To the woman of Samaria, Jesus talked of the benefits to the individual personal life of the living water—“the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life” (Jn 4:14). (In Jn 7:38), He is talking not of the benefits to the individual life at all, but of the rivers of living water that will flow out of the individual life. Jesus did not say, “He that believeth on Me, shall experience the fulness of the blessing of God”; but, “he that believeth on Me, out of him shall escape everything he receives.” It is a picture of the unfathomable, incalculable benediction (act of blessing) which will flow from the one great sovereign source, belief in Jesus. We have nothing to do with the outflow; we have to see to it that we are destitute enough of spiritual independence to be filled with the Holy Spirit and then pay attention to the Source, Our Lord Himself. You can never measure what God will do through you if you are rightly related to Jesus. (He shall glorify me: talks on the Holy Spirit and other themes)
Oswald Chambers - Are you strengthened from above mentally, physically, morally, spiritually, and “circumstantially”? Do you know how to draw on the resurrection life of Jesus? The guidance in work for God is to notice where you are exhausted without recuperation. We take on a tremendous amount of stuff which we call work for God, and God puts the sentence of death on it for we are exhausted by it without being recuperated, because our strength is drawn from somewhere other than the Highest. The sign that what we are doing is God’s work is that we know the supernatural recuperation. Are we strong enough to be abject failures in the eyes of the world, or are we set upon success? Our work for God is not of any value saving as it develops us; the one thing of value in God’s sight is our relationship to Jesus Christ. The branch knows nothing about its fruit, it only knows the pruning-knife (see John 15:2). “Am I a blessing?” No, certainly not, if you are looking at the outflow. Keep rightly related to the Highest, and out of you will flow “rivers of living water.” (God’s Workmanship)
Oswald Chambers - Springs of benignity - The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water. John 4:14. The picture Our Lord gives is not that of a channel but a fountain. ‘Be being filled,’ and the sweetness of vital relationship to Jesus will flow out of the saint as lavishly as it is imparted to him. If you find your life is not flowing out as it should, you are to blame; something has obstructed the flow. Keep right at the Source, and—you will be blessed personally? No, out of you will flow rivers of living water, irrepressible life. We are to be centers through which Jesus can flow as rivers of living water in blessing to everyone. Some of us are like the Dead Sea, always taking in but never giving out, because we are not rightly related to the Lord Jesus. As surely as we receive from Him, He will pour out through us, and in the measure He is not pouring out, there is a defect in our relationship to Him. Is there anything between you and Jesus Christ? Is there anything that hinders your belief in Him? If not, Jesus says, out of you will flow rivers of living water. It is not a blessing passed on, not an experience stated, but a river continually flowing. Keep at the Source, guard well your belief in Jesus Christ and your relationship to Him, and there will be a steady flow for other lives, no dryness and no deadness (cp Pr 4:23). Is it not too extravagant to say that out of an individual believer, rivers are going to flow? ‘I do not see the rivers,’ you say. Never look at yourself from the standpoint of—‘Who am I?’ In the history of God’s work you will nearly always find that it has started from the obscure, the unknown, the ignored, but the steadfastly true to Jesus Christ....(Aug 31) Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water. Be a centre for Jesus Christ to pour living water through. Stop being self-conscious, stop being a sanctified prig, and live the life hid with Christ. The life that is rightly related to God is as natural as breathing wherever it goes. The lives that have been of most blessing to you are those who were unconscious of it. (My Utmost for His Highest)
Here is Oswald Chambers' prayer for December 15 - Lord, I turn implicitly to Thee. Be such an atmosphere in and around us that we may be those out of whom the rivers of living water flow. (Knocking at God’s Door - A Little Book of Prayers from prayers Oswald Chambers recorded in his personal diary)
Oswald Chambers - The curse of much modern religion is that it makes us so desperately interested in ourselves, so overwhelmingly concerned about our own whiteness. Jesus Christ was absolutely interested in God, and the saint is to be a simple, unaffected, natural human being indwelt by the Spirit of God. If the saint is paying attention to the Source, Jesus Christ, out of him and unconsciously to him are flowing the rivers of living water wherever he goes (John 7:37-39). Men are either getting better or worse because of us. (The Psychology of Redemption)
Oswald Chambers - The true character of the loveliness that tells for God is always unconscious. Conscious influence is priggish and un-Christian. When we begin to wonder whether we are of any use, we instantly lose the bloom of the touch of the Lord. Jesus says—“He that believeth on Me,” out of him “shall flow rivers of living water.” If we begin to examine outflow, we lose touch with the Source. We have to pay attention to the Source and God will look after the outflow. (The Love of God—The Ministry of the Unnoticed)
Oswald Chambers - The only illustrations our Lord used of service were those of the vine (John 15:1–6), and the rivers of living water (John 7:37–39). It is inconceivable to think of the vine delighting in its own grapes; all that the vine is conscious of is the husbandman’s pruning knife. All that the one out of whom rivers of living water are flowing is conscious of is belief in Jesus, and maintaining a right relationship to Him. Are we bringing forth fruit? We certainly are if we are identified with the Lord, luscious bunches of grapes for the Husbandman to do what He likes with. Pay attention to the Source, believe in Jesus, and God will look after the outflow. God grant we may let the Holy Ghost work out His passion for souls through us. We have not to imitate Jesus by having a passion for souls like His, but to let the Holy Ghost so identify us with Jesus that His mind is expressed through us as He expressed the mind of God (The Moral Foundation of Life)
Oswald Chambers - Our whole life is to be lived so in the power of God that He can pour through us the rivers of living water to others. Some of us are so concerned about the outflow that it dries up. We continually ask, “Am I of any use?” Jesus tells us how to be of use: “Believe in Me, and out of you will flow rivers of living water.” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)
Oswald Chambers - There is only one way to develop spiritually, and that is by concentrating on God. Don’t bother about whether you are growing in grace or whether you are being of use to others, but believe on Jesus and out of you will flow rivers of living water. (Studies in the sermon on the mount)
Oswald Chambers - Let the lowliest soul whose influence apparently amounts to nothing get rightly related to God, and out of him will flow rivers of living water (Jn 7:38) which he does not see; but one day we shall find that it is those lives which have been spreading the lasting benediction. (God’s Workmanship)
Oswald Chambers - How anxious we are to serve God and our fellow men to-day! Jesus Our Lord says we must pay attention to the Source—belief in Him, and He will look after the outflow (Jn 7:38). He has promised that there shall be “rivers of living water,” but we must not look at the outflow, nor rejoice in successful service. “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). The source, belief in Jesus, is the thing to heed; and through that famous, for-ever binding commission, believers in Jesus are to make disciples—“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations” (rv). Are we doing it? (Approved unto God)
Oswald Chambers - Keep your relationship right with Him, then whatever circumstances you are in, and whoever you meet day by day, He is pouring rivers of living water through you, and it is of His mercy that He does not let you know it. (August 30 - My utmost for his highest)
Oswald Chambers - How am I going to maintain my relationship to God on the spiritual plane, and keep the broad horizon that will help other men? “Believe on Me,” says Jesus, “and out of you will flow rivers of living water.” The radiating influence from one person rightly related to God is incalculable; he may not say much, but you feel different, the pressure has gone, you are in contact with one who is on a different plane. (The Place of Help)
Oswald Chambers - The true character of the loveliness that tells for God is always unconscious. Conscious influence is priggish and un-Christian. If I say, ‘I wonder if I am of any use,’ I instantly lose the bloom of the touch of the Lord. “He that believeth in Me, out of him shall flow rivers of living water.” If I examine the outflow, I lose the touch of the Lord. Which are the people who have influenced us most? Not the ones who thought they did, but those who had not the remotest notion that they were influencing us. In the Christian life the implicit is never conscious; if it is conscious, it ceases to have this unaffected loveliness which is the characteristic of the touch of Jesus. We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring. (August 21 - My utmost for his highest)
Oswald Chambers - When a man has been profoundly moved in his spirit by the experience of Redemption, then out of him flow rivers of living water. Stop the concern of whether you are of any use in the world. “He that believeth on Me,” said Jesus, out of him “shall flow rivers of living water”; whether we see it or not is a matter of indifference. Heed the Source. (The highest good: containing also The Pilgrims song book and The Great redemption)
Oswald Chambers - Diffusiveness of life - Rivers of living water. John 7:38. - A river touches places of which its source knows nothing, and Jesus says if we have received of His fulness, however small the visible measure of our lives, out of us will flow the rivers that will bless to the uttermost parts of the earth. We have nothing to do with the outflow—“This is the work of God that ye believe.…” God rarely allows a soul to see how great a blessing he is. A river is victoriously persistent, it overcomes all barriers. For a while it goes steadily on its course, then it comes to an obstacle and for a while it is baulked, but it soon makes a pathway round the obstacle. Or a river will drop out of sight for miles, and presently emerge again broader and grander than ever. You can see God using some lives, but into your life an obstacle has come and you do not seem to be of any use. Keep paying attention to the Source, and God will either take you round the obstacle or remove it. The river of the Spirit of God overcomes all obstacles. Never get your eyes on the obstacle or on the difficulty. The obstacle is a matter of indifference to the river which will flow steadily through you if you remember to keep right at the Source. Never allow anything to come between yourself and Jesus Christ, no emotion, or experience; nothing must keep you from the one great sovereign Source. Think of the healing and far-flung rivers nursing themselves in our souls! God has been opening up marvelous truths to our minds, and every point He has opened up is an indication of the wider power of the river He will flow through us. If you believe in Jesus, you will find that God has nourished in you mighty torrents of blessing for others. (Sept 6 - My utmost for his highest)
Oswald Chambers - “He that believeth in Me out of him shall flow rivers of living water,” that is, hundreds of other lives will be continually refreshed. It is time now to break the life, to cease craving for satisfaction, and to spill the thing out. Our Lord is asking who of us will do it for Him? (Sept 2 - My utmost for his highest)
Oswald Chambers - When we are right with God, Jesus says, out of you will flow “rivers of living water.” (The Highest Good)
S D Gordon - Choked Channels - There is another kind of Christian, an utterly different kind, spoken of and illustrated in this same Gospel of John, and I doubt not many of them also are here. It is Jesus' ideal of what a Christian should be. Have you sometimes wished you could have a few minutes of quiet talk with Jesus? I mean face to face, as two of us might sit and talk together. You have thought you would ask Him to say very simply and plainly just what He expects of you. Well, I believe He would answer in words something like those of this seventh chapter of John. It was at the time of Feast of Tabernacles. There was a vast multitude of Jews there from all parts of the world. It was like an immense convention, but larger than any convention we know. The people were not entertained in the homes, but lived for seven days in leafy booths made of branches of trees. It was the last day of the feast. There was a large concourse of people gathered in one of the temple areas; not women, but men; not sitting, but standing. Up yonder stand the priests, pouring water out of large jars, to symbolize the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the nation of Israel. Just then Jesus speaks, and amid the silence of the intently watching throng His voice rings out: "If any man thirst let him come unto Me and drink; he that believeth on Me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (John 7:38) Mark that significant closing clause. That packs into a sentence Jesus' ideal of what a true Christian down in this world should be, and may be. Every word is full of meaning. The heart of the sentence is in the last word "water." Water is an essential of life. Absence of water means suffering and sickness, dearth and death. Plenty of good water means life. All the history of the world clusters about the water courses. Study the history of the rivers, the seashores, and lake edges, and you know the history of the earth. Those men who heard Jesus speak would instinctively think of the Jordan. It was their river. Travelers say that no valley exceeded in beauty and fruitfulness that valley of the Jordan, made so by those swift waters. No hillside so fair in their green beauty, nor so wealthy in heavy loads of fruit as those sloping down to the edge of that stream. Now Jesus is plainly talking of something that may, through us, exert as decided an influence upon the lives of those we touch as water has exerted, and still exerts, on the history of the earth, and as this Jordan did in that wonderful, historic Palestine. Mark the quantity of water—"rivers." Not a Jordan merely, that would be wonderful enough, but Jordans—as Jordan, and a Nile, and a Euphrates, a Yang Tse Kiang, and an Olga and a Rhine, a Seine and a Thames, and a Hudson and an Ohio—"rivers." Notice, too, the kind of water. Like this racing, turbulent, muddy Jordan? No, no! "Rivers of living water," "water of life, clear as crystal." You remember in Ezekiel's vision which we read together that the waters constantly increased in depth, and that everywhere they went there was healing, and abundant life, and prosperity, and beauty, and food, and a continual harvest the year round, and all because of the waters of the river. They were veritable waters of life. (Ezek 47:1-12)
Now mark that little, but very significant, phrase "Out of"‚—not into, but "out of." All the difference in the lives of men lies in the difference between these two expressions. "Into" is the world's preposition. Every stream turns in; and that means a dead sea. Many a man's life is simply the coast line of a dead sea. "Out of" is the Master's word. His thought is of others. The stream must flow in, and must flow through, if it is to flow out, but it is judged by its direction, and Jesus would turn it outward. There must be good connections upward, and a clear channel inward, but the objective point is outward toward a parched earth. But before it can flow out it must fill up. An outflow in this case means an overflow. There must be a flooding inside before there can be a flowing out. And let the fact be carefully marked that it is only the overflow from the fullness within our own lives that brings refreshing to anyone else. A man praying at a conference in England for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit said: "Oh Lord, we can't hold much, but we can overflow lots." That is exactly the Master's thought. "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
Do you remember that phrase in the third chapter of Joshua—"For Jordan overfloweth all its banks all the time of harvest." When there was a flood in the river, there was a harvest in the land. Has there been a harvest in your life? A harvest of the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, long-suffering; a harvest of souls? "No," do you say, "not much of a harvest, I am afraid," or it may be your heart says "none at all." Is it hard to tell why? Has there been a flood-tide in your heart, a filling up from above until the blessed stream had to find an outlet somewhere, and produce a harvest? A harvest outside means a rising of the tide inside. A flooding of the heart always brings a harvest in the life. A few years ago there were great floods in the southern states, and the cotton and corn crops following were unprecedented. Paul reminded his Roman friends that when the Holy Spirit has free swing in the life "the love of God floods our hearts." (Rom. 5:5)
Please notice, too, the source of the stream—"out of his belly." Will you observe for a moment the rhetorical figure here? I used to suppose it meant "out of his heart." The ancients, you remember, thought the heart lay down in the abdominal region. But you will find that this book is very exact in its use of words. The blood is the life. The heart pumps, but the stomach makes it. The seat of life is not in the heart, but in the stomach. If you will take down a book of physiology, and find the chart showing the circulation of the blood, you will see a wonderful network of lines spreading out in every direction, but all running, through lighter lines into heavier, and still blacker, until every line converges in the great stomach artery. And everywhere the blood goes there is life. Now turn to a book of physical geography and get a map showing the water system of some great valley like the Mississippi, and you will find a striking reproduction of the other chart. And if you will shut your eyes and imagine the reality back of that chart, you will see hundreds of cool, clear springs flowing successively into runs, brooks, creeks, larger streams, river branches, rivers, and finally into the great river—the reservoir of all. And everywhere the waters go there is life. The only difference between these two streams of life is in the direction. The blood flows from the largest toward the smallest; the water flows from the smallest toward the largest. Both bring life with its accompaniments of beauty and vigor and fruitfulness. There is Jesus' picture of the Christian down in the world. As the red stream flows out from the stomach, and, propelled by the force-pump of the heart through a marvelous network of minute rivers, takes life to every part of the body, so "he that believeth on Me"—that is the vital connecting link with the great origin of this stream of life—out of the very source of life within him shall go a flood-tide of life, bringing refreshing, and cleansing, and beauty, and vigor everywhere within the circle of his life, even though, like the red streams and the water streams, he be unconscious of it. An Unlikely Channel. What a marvelous conception of the power of life! How strikingly it describes Jesus' own earthly life. But there is something more marvelous still—He means that ideal to become real in you, my friend, and in me. I doubt not there are some here whose eager hearts are hungry for just such a life, but who are tremblingly conscious of their own weakness. Your thoughts are saying: "I wish I could live such a life, but certainly this is not for, this man talking doesn't know me—no special talent or opportunity; such strong tides of temptation that sweep me clean off my feet—not for me." Ah, my friend, I verily believe you are the very one the Master had in mind, for He had John put into his gospel a living illustration of this ideal of His that goes down to the very edge of human unlikeliness and inability. He goes down to the lowest so as to include all. What proved true in this case may prove true with you, and much more. The story is in the fourth chapter. It is a sort of advance page of the Book of Acts. A sample of the power of Pentecost—before the day of Pentecost. You and I live on the flood-side of Pentecost. This illustration belongs back where the streams had only just commenced trickling. It is a miniature. You and I furnish the life-size if we will. It is the story of a woman; not a man, but a woman. One of the weaker sex, so called. She was ignorant, prejudiced, and without social standing. She was a woman of no reputation. Aye, worse than that, of bad reputation. She probably had less moral influence in her town than any one here has in his circle. Could a more unlikely person have been used? But she came in touch with the Lord Jesus. She yielded herself to that touch. There lies the secret of what follows. That contact radically changed her. She went back to her village and commenced speaking about Jesus to those she knew. She could not preach; she simply told plainly and earnestly what she knew and believed about Him. And the result is startling. There are hundreds of ministers who are earnestly longing for what came so easily to her. What modern people call a revival began at once. We are told in the simple language of the Gospel record that "many believed on Him because of the word of the woman." They had not seen Jesus yet. He was up by the well. They were down in the village. She was an ignorant woman, of formerly sinful life. But there is the record of the wonderful result of her simple witnessing—they believed on Jesus because of the word of that woman. There is only one way to account for such results. Only the Holy Spirit speaking through her lips could have produced them. She had commenced drinking of the living water of which Jesus had been talking to her, and now already the rivers were flowing out to others. What Jesus did with her, He longs to do with you, and far more, if you will let Him; though his plan for using you may be utterly different from the one He had for her, and so the particular results may differ too. Now let me ask very frankly why do we not have such power for our Master as she? The Master's plan is plain. He said: "Ye shall have power." But so many of us do not have power! Why not? Well, possibly some of us are like Nicodemus—there is no power because of timidity, cowardice, fear of what they will think, or say. Possibly some of us are in the same condition spiritually that Lazarus was in physically; we are tied up tight—hands and feet and face. Some sin. some compromise, some hushing of that inner voice, something wrong. Some little thing, you may say. Humph! as though anything could be little that is wrong! Sin is never little!
A Clogged Channel. Out in Colorado they tell of a little town nestled down at the foot of some hills—a sleepy-hollow village. You remember the rainfall is very slight out there, and they depend much upon irrigation. But some enterprising citizens ran a pipe up the hills to a lake of clear, sweet water. As a result the town enjoyed a bountiful supply of water the year round without being dependent upon the doubtful rainfall. And the population increased and the place had quite a western boom. One morning the housewives turned the water spigots, but no water came. There was some sputtering. There is apt to be noise when there is nothing else. The men climbed the hill. There was the lake full as ever. They examined around the pipes as well as possible, but could find no break. Try as they might, they could find no cause for the stoppage. And as days grew into weeks, people commenced moving away again, the grass grew in the streets, and the prosperous town was going back to its old sleepy condition when one day one of the town officials received a note. It was poorly written, with bad spelling and grammar, but he never cared less about writing or grammar than just then. It said in effect: "Ef you'll jes pull the plug out of the pipe about eight inches from the top you'll get all the water you want." Up they started for the top of the hill, and examining the pipe, found the plug which some vicious tramp had inserted. Not a very big plug, just big enough to fill the pipe. It is surprising how large a reservoir of water can be held back by how small a plug. Out came the plug; down came the water freely; by and by back came prosperity again. Why is there such a lack of power in our lives? The reservoir up yonder is full to overflowing, with clear, sweet, life-giving water. And here all around us the earth is so dry, so thirsty, cracked open, huge cracks like dumb mouths asking mutely for what we should give. And the connecting pipes between the reservoir above and the parched plain below are there. Why then do not the refreshing waters come rushing down? The answer is very plain. You know why. There is a plug in the pipe. Something in us is clogging up the channel and nothing can get through. How shall we have power, abundant, life-giving, sweetening our own lives, and changing those we touch? The answer is easy for me to give—it will be much harder for us all to do—pull out the plug. Get out the thing that you know is hindering! I am going to ask every one who will, to offer this simple prayer—and I am sure every thoughtful, earnest man and woman here will. Just bow your head and quietly under your breath say to Him: "Lord Jesus, show me what there is in my life that is displeasing to Thee; what there is Thou wouldst change." You may be sure He will. He is faithful. He will put His finger on that tender spot very surely. Then add a second clause to that prayer—"By Thy grace helping me, I will put it out whatever it may cost, or wherever it may cut." Shall we bow our heads and offer that prayer, and hew close to that line, steadily, faithfully? It will open up a life of marvelous blessing undreamed of for you and everyone you touch. (S D Gordon - Quiet Talks on Power - Choked Channels)
Vance Havner - "If Any Man Thirst" - "Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified."—John 7:37-39, R.V.
OUR Lord was at the feast of tabernacles. It is very likely that He had just been observing a peculiar ceremony which was a custom at that time. It seems that each day a priest with a golden pitcher went to the pool of Siloam followed by a throng of people. Filling the pitcher at the pool, he bore it down the streets amid the shouting and singing of the multitude and the sound of trumpets and cymbals. When he reached the temple he poured out the water by the altar while all the people sang, "Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation" (Isaiah 12:3-note). It was such a hilarious occasion that, according to Lightfoot, it was said, "Whoever has not witnessed it has never seen rejoicing at all."
Doubtless our Lord had just witnessed this ceremony and, although it was very impressive, He must have been struck with the futility of it all. For, although these jubilant multitudes sang and shouted and went into raptures, after it all was over they went home with their same old heartaches and cares and fears. Then, too, it was a perfect picture of the fact that the law, represented by the priest, and legalism and religiousness and ceremony, represented by the pouring out of the water, could never assuage the thirst of the human heart. And more than that, it symbolized the utter inability of the waters of earth, its pleasures and possessions and philosophies, to satisfy the weary soul. Men might make great ado over these things, might for the moment rejoice in them, but always they must go away thirsty, because they have forsaken the fountain of living waters and hewn them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13).
But there stood among the throngs on this feast day One Who could satisfy the thirsty soul. While the worshippers sang, "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation," little did they realize that the fulfilment of that prophecy stood among them! And now, with the vivid contrast of the water-pouring ceremony before Him, the Lord Jesus did a most unusual thing, He stood and cried aloud to the throngs around Him. "He stood and cried" —very rarely is that phrase used of our Lord. "He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets" (Matthew 12:19), but here He went out of the ordinary, did the exceptional thing of standing, probably in some elevated position, and crying aloud to the multitude. Why did He do it? Because He had something exceptional and extraordinary to say! His soul had been moved within Him by the vain ceremony of the feast day and now He sets Himself against the hollow observance of the empty pitcher and cries, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink! He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water!"
It is as though He cried: "Ah, you thirst for something, you know not what. These hollow ceremonies, these ecstasies of the flesh, these empty pitchers from Siloam, these waters of earth can never satisfy. Come unto me and drink and I will give you living waters which shall become in you fountains of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14), and rivers of water forever overflowing. 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters' (Isaiah 55:1). 'Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely'" (Revelation 22:17).
Nineteen centuries have gone their way, and today a thirsting world still hews its broken cisterns and seeks in poured-out waters of Siloam living waters that fail not. Ponce de Leon still looks for the fountain of youth. Modern fads and isms, psychologic tricks and philosophic cure-alls—these are golden pitchers from Siloam which are soon poured out. And what shall we say of thousands who go through all the motions of religion, even grow ecstatic like these Jews at the feast, yet go away unsatisfied as ever? Amidst it all stands One Who is the Bread of Life, Who invites the labouring and the laden to come unto Him and rest (John 6:35; Matthew 11:28). Whosoever lives and believes in Him shall never die (John 11:26). In Him, though the outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day (II Corinthians 4:16). He is the soul's fountain of youth. If any man thirst, let him come unto Him and drink and he shall have within himself a fountain of living waters overflowing in torrents of blessing.
That, of course, is the first application of this precious passage—Christ's invitation to a lost world. But I am thinking now of another situation painfully evident today: thousands of Christians, believers, saved people, whose actual, daily experience is more like the emptied pitcher from Siloam than it is like the living fountain with its rivers of water. As I go about over the land, I am continually meeting preachers grieved over a defective experience, who are convinced that they have missed something and that surely there must be more in the filling of the Spirit than they have ever understood. They are good men, able men, devout men, but many of them seem to have stopped short of that utter abandon in which men lose themselves to become blazing firebrands for God, flaming torches by which He sets on fire a smug and sanctimonious church and awakens to burning conviction a sleeping world. Some are willing to miss a blessing rather than give up a prejudice, but others are worried and deeply conscious that their fire is not Pentecostal fire but painted fire which does not burn!
I am continually meeting Christians whose experience is like getting all of a story except the point. Like the Jews at the feast, they have a happy day once in a while when they "scale the utmost height and catch a gleam of glory bright," but these are few and far between and soon "a sense of things real comes doubly strong." After one of his sermons, Andrew Murray asked a very pious woman, "How are you going on?" Her answer was, "Oh, just the way it always is, sometimes light and sometimes dark." "My dear sister," he asked, "where is that in the Bible?" She said, "We have day and night in nature, and just so it is in our souls." "No, no," he replied, "in the Bible we read, 'Thy sun shall no more go down.'" But most believers today live in an eclipse.
Naturally, all this shows up in the fellowship of believers. Our churches go forth often, like Samson, to shake themselves, as at other times before, and know not that the power of the Lord in fulness of blessing has departed. There is no listening for the sound of a going in the mulberry trees. Having begun in the Spirit, they would perfect themselves in the flesh. Instead of more power, more wheels are added to the machine. There is no ministering to the Lord and fasting, so the Spirit has nothing to say. There being no devotion, there is no Dynamic and no direction. There is nothing about the average Christian or church to remind one of rivers of living water issuing from a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Indeed, one is reminded more of the occasional pouring out of water from the golden pitcher filled at Siloam.
It is plainly stated here that our Lord spoke of the Holy Spirit, so the whole difficulty today lies in a failure rightly to appreciate and appropriate the fulness of the Spirit. It is interesting to note that many of these thirsty Christians today have been much taught if not well taught; they have studied the Word carefully, have prayed earnestly, have sought deeper blessing, have gone from Bible conference to Bible conference, returning home in the fall laden with notebooks crammed with epigrams from teachers galore. I fear that altogether too many have "eagerly frequented doctor and saint, and heard great argument about it and about, but evermore have come out the same door wherein they went." Some have "surrendered" dozens of times; have followed Andrew Murray's "steps" for the blessing; have "claimed the blessing," and then tried to believe they had it, meanwhile driving off the fowls from the offering, like Abraham, until God should send the witness of the burning lamp. They have tried not to confuse the filling with the feeling, but after months or years they still do not wear the garments of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness, and many break down in defeatism or else move into extremist circles. (And right here remember the words of a mighty man of God of the last generation: "It were almost better for one to overstate the possibilities of sanctification in his eager grasp after holiness, than to understate them in his complacent satisfaction with a traditional unholiness. Certainly it is not an edifying spectacle to see a Christian worlding throwing stones at a Christian perfectionist.")
Now, it is evident that if our Lord meant for us to be living fountains sending forth torrents of living water then we have no business standing along Jordan's stormy banks casting wishful eyes toward Canaan's fair and happy land, where our possessions lie. We ought to be dwelling over there in that blessed experience which the saints have called, "the rest of faith," "perfect love," "the Spirit-filled life," "the victorious life," or "Christian perfection." On this feast day the Lord invited us to the fulness of the Spirit as well as to salvation, and it behooves us rightly to appreciate and appropriate what is here set forth.
We recognize, of course, that when we come to the Lord Jesus Christ at conversion and receive Him, the Holy Spirit indwells our hearts from regeneration. We know also that the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost once for all. But here we believe with A. J. Gordon, that "it does not follow that every believer has by faith received that baptism. God's gift is one thing; our appropriation of that gift is quite another thing. As Christ, the second Person of the Godhead, came to earth to make atonement for sin and to give eternal life, and as sinners we must receive Him by faith in order to forgiveness and sonship, so the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead, came to earth to communicate the 'power from on high'; and we must as believers in like manner receive Him by faith in order to be qualified for service. Both gifts have been bestowed, but it is not what we have but what we know we have by a conscious, appropriating faith which determines our spiritual wealth."
The baptism of the Spirit is ours positionally, but, alas, what is ours positionally is not always our actual condition. It is one thing to have the blessing as our right and privilege, but quite another to be blessed experimentally. The average Christian is so ignorant of, or indifferent to, the filling of the Spirit that when he does realize and receive fulness of power, it truly is a second blessing to him, second only to regeneration. Said McConkey: "There is a fulness of the Holy Ghost which does not come to most Christians at conversion and, therefore, is, in point of time, a second blessing." And Dr. James M. Gray makes it clear: "I believe that the second work of grace.. is a later crisis in the history of the believer, when he comes to realize the need of a holier life and a deeper experience of Christ. He then surrenders himself as a Christian to Christ more fully than he has yet done and comes into the Spirit to which he has been a stranger theretofore. It is the privilege of every believer to have this experience at the moment of his acceptance of Christ as Saviour and some do enter into its enjoyment then. Many do not, however, and when it comes to them, if it does, they regard it as a second work of grace and a baptism of the Holy Spirit."
In our zeal to escape false doctrines of a "second blessing" most Christians, we fear, have gone too far and denied any need of crisis or deeper experience in the life of the believer, except a gradual growth in grace. Now, for believers who recognized and appropriated the filling of the Spirit at conversion and who are being filled continually that is sufficient. But very few have done that, and, besides, it has been asked with real insight: "If we conceive of the Christian life as only a gradual growth in grace, is there not a danger that we come to regard this growth as both invisible and inevitable and so take little responsibility for its accomplishment?"
Many arguments have been employed against this experience, even by established Christians. The subjective aspect of just yielding and receiving has taken the place of the old emphasis our fathers placed on being overwhelmed with power coming down. The mighty old-fashioned down-crashing floods of power that inundated and submerged waiting saints have been ignored in favour of a rather tame and pale "receiving" that fails somehow to receive. Some say we are not to pray for power. If that is true, then the mighty men of God through the ages have been mistaken. Others contend that we do violence to the personality of the Holy Spirit in speaking of being filled as though He were like electricity. We can say only that "filled" is the New Testament word.
And what shall we say of the testimony of history? Think of George Fox, lying for days in a trance, and coming through to a new experience; Wesley and Whitefield praying until three in the morning, when the Spirit fell in great power; Christmas Evans convicted of a cold heart while on his way to preach and led to pray until his heart thawed out like the breaking up of a hard winter, and going on to preach with power, so that a gracious revival began and swept the country roundabout. Think of Burns of Kilsyth saying to his mother after a night of prayer, "God has given me Kilsyth today," and going forth to reap souls not only in Kilsyth but in all Scotland and in Inland China. And what shall we say of Finney who saw the Lord and then, set burning with the heavenly flame, moved out into a ministry of evangelism so marvelous that I am astounded that few Christians today seem to know anything of this giant of the Gospel. One thinks of the Moravians at Herrnhut, of A. J. Gordon in his midnight prayer meeting with George Needham, of Moody receiving such a blessing that he had to ask God to stay His hand, and testifying of it later: "I would not be back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world—it would be as the small dust of the balance." Say what you will, these men knew a day of crisis and, although salvation dated from an earlier day, mighty power for service dated from this day. When one reads the story of these powerful fountains of living water, he is more than ever impressed with the thought that most of us today are strangely like pitchers from Siloam! It ill becomes us dwarfs to differ with such giants of yesterday.
Well does F. B. Meyer ask us: "Are we experimentally possessed of the Pentecostal enduement? Are we willing to pay the price of it?" Pentecost is on the church calendar but it is not the churches' condition. Moody declared in Boston: "See how He came on the day of Pentecost! It is not carnal to pray that He may come again and that the place may be shaken. I believe that Pentecost was but a specimen day. I think the Church made this woeful mistake that Pentecost was a miracle never to be repeated. I have thought, too, that Pentecost was a miracle never to be repeated. I believe now, if we looked on Pentecost as a specimen day and began to pray, we should have the old Pentecostal fire here in Boston." Now some of us may find fault with Moody's viewpoint, but remember he lived in Pentecost!
It was to this fulness of the Spirit that our Lord invited us on the great feast day: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water." You will observe that our Lord sets forth here a simple process, a fivefold experience of thirsting, coming, drinking, believing and overflowing. If we are suffering from a defective experience of the Spirit it is because somewhere along that fivefold experience we have failed to appreciate or appropriate His Word.
Indeed, it is easy to see that most of us have failed at the very outset of this matter,—"IF ANY MAN THIRST." God has promised, "I will pour out water upon him that is thirsty" (Isaiah 44:3), but who is thirsty? I talk with Christians who say they want more power and joy and peace and victory. But within a few minutes they have changed to some other subject, and soon some other topic is being discussed, and one feels that the fulness of the Spirit is, with them, just one of a variety of themes for polite after-dinner conversation. We poor Americans have become so shallow and superficial along all lines that we never really go deeply into any matter; we flit like butterflies from subject to subject, and never even in dreams have seen the things which are more excellent.
"IF ANY MAN THIRST------" Just wanting a drink of water is not thirsting. We know nothing about thirst here in a land with water on tap at our elbows. Dr. Torrey tells us that he knew nothing of thirst until he was with soldiers of the Spanish-American war in camp, where dust filled the air day and night and where, as he put it, they ate dust, drank dust, slept dust and dreamed dust, and there was no water anywhere fit to drink. Again, he was in China when cholera was raging and he could drink no water on the boat, but drank soft drinks as long as he dared, then lay all night suffering with thirst and thinking of his well at Northfield, far away. Ask some missionary to tell you what thirst is, when every pore of the body cries, "Water, water, water;" when the desert seems to be inside of you, and the lips swell, and every desire, hope and thought is just concentrated in one burning fever for a cooling drink. That is thirst, not just a casual, ordinary, normal inclination to drink water.
Do we know anything about that sort of spiritual thirst? Has your soul ever panted after the fulness of His Spirit as the hart pants after the water brooks? We are inclined nowadays to discount the agonies of the John Bunyans of another day who were so consumed with a vehement thirst for deeper blessing that food lost its taste and sleep could not be had. A more comfortable route to Beulah land has been discovered, but it is doubtful that men fully appreciate the blessedness of living in the eighth chapter of Romans who have not fully realized the bitterness of living in the seventh. It is true that some of these godly men of old unduly neglected the flesh, but we have unduly pampered the flesh, and it is clearly evident on all sides that a shallow thirst has brought a shallow satisfaction. It is quite true that God puts no special value on tears and all-night prayers and fastings, but He does reward a thirst so intense that time and food are forgotten and tears are not repressed. Very few Christians rejoice today with the deep joy of salvation, because they a have never been deeply conscious of sin and, consequently, have no profound sense of deliverance. And it is just as true that few rejoice in fulness of the Spirit because, feeling self-sufficient, they have never known desperate thirst,—and one must thirst deeply to drink deeply. "I will pour water upon HIM THAT IS THIRSTY." Deep desire is followed by deep delight.
We live in a soft generation that lives on the surface and feeds at ethical soda fountains and spiritual delicatessen shops. If we are ever to know the profound, mountain-moving, soul-stirring torrents of living water surging upward into everlasting life, we must go deeper than pink-tea conversation and academic hair-splitting over theories of the baptism and filling of the Holy Ghost. We must join the company of men dreadfully, even though sometimes dismally, in earnest; who wrestled at Jabbok and came away with shrunken sinews but also as princes of God having power with God and men. The way to a personal and experimental Pentecost is not by a shallow and superficial prayer-meeting request for more power, easily uttered and soon forgotten; it is the road of a burning and blistering thirst that will not be denied; that importunes in spite of the mockery of feelings and the misunderstanding of friends and the misery of doubt and deadness and dulness until loaves have been granted from heaven and we have been set on fire to burn up for God. This road is not easy nor popular, and shorter cuts have been devised for those who will not pay the price; but, just as he who has forgiven most loved most, he who has thirsted most has been most deeply filled, and the fuller the fountain the mightier the rivers of living water that issue forth in torrents of blessing.
Pray, therefore, first of all, for a genuine thirst and a holy heartburn such as struck the Emmaus disciples of old; and look diligently into the mirror of the Word and wait patiently before the Lord that the Spirit may show you yourself in your awful need, your heart in its exceeding sinfulness, your life in its emptiness—that you may burn in raging fever and thirst for Him in His fulness.
Only then are you ready for the next move: "If any man thirst, LET HIM COME UNTO ME." There must be a drawing near unto the Lord, not only in prayer, but in utter and absolute surrender. Everything that offends must be renounced, and we must lay all we are and have at His disposal. Not only must all be surrendered but abandoned—for surrender is not abandon, we do not always leave with Him what we commit to Him. We must be sure that we seek His blessing not for personal enjoyment, not just to boast about it, but for power in service. Just as wives often pray for the conversion of husbands not to the glory of God but only that they may have better husbands, so believers pray for fulness of the Spirit and have not because they ask amiss, that they may consume it on their lusts.
Now this matter of consecration, or surrender, or yielding, is one of those favourite topics of Christian conversation, part of that coinage of our speech which has grown familiar with much exchange, and yet, for all the handling, few of us examine it closely or know what image and superscription it bears. Christians march glibly to the front in our churches to "lay all on the altar" just as sinners file forward nowadays to "accept Christ," and then complain for the rest of their lives that they cannot see that it made any difference. It is no wonder! The depths have never been stirred, and so the depths have not been filled! We recognize that consecration as well as conversion outwardly may be manifested as quietly as an autumn sunset, but when one follows up the results of hundreds of public confessions and consecrations nowadays, he wishes there had been more noise. For all the sermons about the still, small voice, it is also well to remember that the Acts of the Apostles who turned the world upside down is not exactly what one would call a quiet book!
Coming to the Lord Jesus Christ in utter surrender and abandon for fulness of the Spirit is a profound experience that is second only to conversion, and it is amazing how men can profess it with far less concern than they go forward to receive a college diploma or marry a wife. Many who claim to follow Him are of the mixed multitude and soon turn back (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4). Some are soon drawn away because of the uncounted cost, the unburied corpse and the unforsaken circle (Luke 9:57-62). Our Lord does not commit Himself to such, for He knows what is in man (John 2:23-25). Others "rededicate their lives," but the "high places" are not removed (I Kings 15:14). Among others, the bushel of business and the bed of pleasure have not been taken from the candle of testimony (Mark 4:21). In one way or another, superficial. Christians come in shallow consecration, but they cannot drink deeply because, being still partly full of self, they cannot be completely filled with Him!
The whole matter goes back again to "IF ANY MAN THIRST." There is no way around that "if." Let a man thirst for water deeply enough and he will gladly renounce anything else for a drink. LET A MAN CRAVE THE FULNESS OF THE SPIRIT DEEPLY ENOUGH AND HE WILL GLADLY MAKE FULL SURRENDER. But this he must do, he must be emptied of all else to drink deeply of the Spirit.
And now the thirsting and the coming are followed by the drinking: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me AND DRINK." Right here many earnest seekers grow sadly confused. We are so confirmed in the "seeing-is-believing" viewpoint that it is not easy for faith to receive what sight does not first perceive. Anyone who has experienced conversion, receiving Christ by faith for salvation, ought have no difficulty with this further step. Just as we receive the Saviour for forgiveness and sonship, just so do we receive the Holy Spirit for power in service. Of course, the Spirit came at Pentecost in a special sense at the beginning of the dispensation. Also, He regenerates the believer and indwells Him (John 3:5, 6; I Corinthians 6:19), and by the Spirit we are baptized into the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13). The filling of the Spirit has been provided and should be ours from the very outset, but what is ours by provision is not always ours in conscious possession. Therefore, the Christian who, although saved, is conscious of lack of power and peace and joy must definitely appropriate the Spirit, receive the power, drink of the living water, just as he received Christ for salvation.
The Scriptures speak of being "baptized" with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5), "filled" with the Spirit (Acts 2:4; 4:31), of the Holy Ghost "falling" upon believers (Acts 10:44) and "coming" upon them (Acts 19:6), and of believers "receiving" the Spirit (Acts 8:17). Good men have differed greatly about the meaning of these terms. It has been pointed out that baptism is the act and the filling the result, just as a cup is filled when it is immersed. As usual, Christians have argued over the expressions more than they have enjoyed the experience. Just as we speak of regeneration as the work of God, and believing as the "under side"—our side of regeneration—so the experience of the Spirit's fulness is spoken of as a falling upon or coming upon believers from above, while the believer's part is, of course, the receiving. We cannot afford to minimize either side. There is much teaching today about "claiming promises" that would have us easily take what we want and go lightly along imagining we have it, only to realize down the road that we are acting a sort of glorified auto-suggestion and self-hypnosis. The emphasis is upon the subjective and not enough attention is paid God's side, the tremendous overwhelming from above. Many teachers discredit long prayers and waitings before the Lord, failing to see that, although sometimes they are false exercises, they are necessary to humble and quiet the believer before God and do indicate a real thirst. It is natural that this generation, not disposed to "wait" for anything, should prefer a quicker way to get the blessing with the least amount of trouble. But such short cuts tend to magnify the human side and obscure the stupendous truth that this blessing is God overwhelming men and submerging them in His flood tides of power, by which we become not mere pitchers to be filled but fountains sending forth torrents of living water. And the results of this teaching are evident today in rather tame experiences which, for all their receiving, seem poor products of Pentecost.
But it is also possible so to think of this blessing as a coming-down from above that men expect God to do it all, and so they wait and pray for what they should receive. When one genuinely thirsts, and has come to the Lord in utter surrender and abandon, and has waited until the depths have been sounded and the soul quieted, then we must drink, faith must appropriate the Spirit's filling. "Drink" is not passive, it is something we are to do. The thirsting man might contemplate and appreciate water set before him, might wait before it for "something to happen," but the next thing to happen is for him to drink. Here earnest seekers have lost sleep and fasted and beaten their heads on the floor, even as Whitefield lived for some time on sage tea without sugar, and coarse bread, and prayed one night under a tree in the coldest weather, and practiced severe austerities in vain until he learned to look unto Christ. Others have fancied that they must have rare experiences like Finney, with waves of feeling like electricity sweeping hungry nerves, and so have dictated terms to the Lord. All this is beside the point. There must come that definite moment of contact when faith takes what the eye cannot see. It takes both giving and receiving to complete the gift. All God's giving without our receiving would be an incomplete transaction. To come to Christ and drink, therefore, is to receive, after the antecedent conditions have been met—the filling of the Spirit as provided and promised in the Word. It should be a fixed and definite step at a certain hour and moment, a clear-cut act of faith regardless of feeling.
Dr. Torrey waited for days in his study until the Lord spoke to his heart, "The blessing is yours. Now go and preach." Dr. Len G. Broughton tells of attending a convention after he entered the ministry and was convicted of powerlessness. Invited to come forward to kneel and surrender wholly to Christ and by faith accept the blessing, he went and received. A friend asked how he felt. "I didn't ask for feeling," he replied, "I was asking for the Holy Spirit." "How do you know you have anything more than you have had?" "I know it," he said, "just as I know I have Christ; I know it by faith." He had gone for filling, not feeling, and he received.
On this feast day our Lord not only invited us to drink, but said further: "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water." "He that believeth on me" applies first of all, of course, to the initial faith in Christ for salvation, but it is also the secret of the Spirit-filled life. We are not only to drink of Christ in one initial filling of the Spirit but we are to drink and keep on drinking—"being filled with the Spirit"—and that is done by faith that continuously believes on Him and looks unto Him. Christ lives in the believer, and this life is lived "by the faith of the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20).
Here is the supreme difficulty with earnest seekers after the fulness of the Spirit. Many have thirsted, have come to the Lord, have surrendered, have received the Spirit's filling, yet they dolefully lament that they see no difference; it did not last, the peace and power have departed. The reason is evident: they drank but they have not kept on drinking. "He that believeth on me" means more than believing on Him for the first filling; it means a continuous believing, an off-looking unto Jesus day by day. The rivers of living water are not flowing because the fountain of the heart is clogged and choked with doubt. "YET BELIEVING, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (I Peter 1:8). "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" (John 11:40).
Right at this point we fail to walk by faith and try to walk by sight. For a few days after receiving the blessing it is easy usually to walk in the light of the new experience. But soon one is struck with a dull mood; he may withdraw something that has been committed, or fail to obey on some point; he may look away from Jesus to his own feelings, circumstances, problems; he may have expected one filling to carry him through; he may become self-centered and seek merely to enjoy the blessing instead of overflowing in blessing to others. At any rate, crisis is not followed by continuance, and we forget that the same faith which appropriates the blessing at the outset keeps on drinking, so that the fountain keeps on springing up and overflowing in torrents of living water.
Our Lord said to the woman at Jacob's well: "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). We are accustomed to speak of ourselves as empty vessels, to be filled each day with the Spirit, but that is not Scriptural. We are not empty pitchers to be refilled each morning: we are fountains that should evermore be springing up and overflowing, and our part is not to come empty each morning to be filled, but so to abide in Him by faith that we shall continually, night and day, be active channels of His Spirit. We are empty only as we allow the heart to be choked with sin, so that the stream cannot flow. It is not service that exhausts our power so that we need replenishing; sin clogs the inflow and needs to be removed. We are never emptied because of the outflow of blessing but because of trouble with the inflow of power.
So, as we drink and keep on drinking by believing on Him, there is the blessed experience of overflowing: "From within him shall flow rivers of living water." This, our Lord said, is according to what the Scriptures had said. There is no such statement given verbatim in the Old Testament, but the blessed figure of the well-watered life runs throughout. "I will pour out my spirit upon you" (Proverbs 1:23). "A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters" (Song of Solomon 4:15). "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water" (Isaiah 41:18). "I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" (Isaiah 43:19). "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring" (Isaiah 44:3). "And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not" (Isaiah 58:11). "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28).
Certainly the Scriptures describe for us a life continually-well watered and abundant, a fountain springing up and overflowing. But when one looks around at most Christian lives, he sees not gardens with waters that fail not, but dried-up and unproductive hearts living in a spiritual drought, with only occasional showers of blessing, perhaps at the annual revival. In the Acts it was surprising to meet believers who were NOT filled with the Spirit (19:1-7); now it is a surprise to meet a believer who IS filled with the Spirit!
And where is that exuberant joy of those who draw water from the wells of salvation? If these Jews at the feast could so rejoice over a hollow ceremony of pouring out water from Siloam that it was said "whoever has not witnessed it has never seen rejoicing at all," how hilarious should we be who drink of His living water! Leaving our figure of water for a moment, it is interesting to note that three times in the New Testament wine and the Holy Spirit are spoken of in the same connection. John the Baptist was not to drink wine but to be filled with the Spirit (Luke 1:15); the Spirit-filled believers at Pentecost were accused of being full of new wine (Acts 2:13); we are exhorted, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). Wine changes the face, the walk, the talk, creates a commotion, and stimulates to hilarity, though it be a false joy; but the Holy Spirit fires the soul with heavenly wine and produces a holy hilarity. Immediately after reading in Ephesians, "Be filled with the Spirit" we read, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (5:19). There is the fountain overflowing with melodious joy!
It must ever be remembered that these rivers of living water must overflow in testimony and service. There is no reference to the blessing of the Spirit in the Bible that is not connected with its practical outflowing for the good of others. So long as this blessing is sought as an end in itself, it never can be obtained, because the purpose of it is to give power for service. It is not a true fountain that keeps its waters within itself and does not overflow. The primary purpose of His infilling is neither to make us holy nor happy, although it does both, but to empower us to testify and serve. If it does not issue in love for souls and testimony and faithful labour for the Lord, it is a false blessing. "Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8, R.V.).
Some think the gift of an evangelist is the mark of every Spirit-filled believer. Some think every one who has received must have a spectacular experience like Finney's, and fall into a trance or see visions. Others expect a certain rush of feeling or ecstasy of joy, and are disappointed when they must go on "dry faith," trusting the plain promise in the Word. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal, the Spirit dividing gifts to every man severally, as He will. We are not to dictate to Him the manner of His manifestation. It may take the form of a wonderful joy or a vision. It may issue in a quiet peace. We may see the evidence in new freedom in preaching or testimony, in greater results in soul-winning. There will be a manifestation, you may be sure of that. But ours is to drink and then believe the work is done because of the statement of the Word, leaving God to give the witness when and as He will.
The dissatisfaction so evident among Christians today arises, therefore, from many causes. Some have never really thirsted, so the satisfaction is shallow. Others have thirsted but have not come in utter surrender to the Lord or, if they have, they have not abandoned what has been committed, or else they have withdrawn something that was committed. Others have never taken the definite step of drinking, by faith receiving the filling. With some the fountain has become clogged by disobedience at some point, by failure to read the Word and pray, and by looking away from Christ to self. Others have sought the blessing for personal enjoyment, or have wanted some peculiar manifestation which the Spirit was not pleased to give. And perhaps by far the most have thought that one experience would automatically take care of everything from then on, instead of daily believing on Christ, yielding to Him, abiding in Him, keeping the channel clear so that Spirit may ever well up and out in rivers of living water. There is no experience which will, as if by magic, relieve us of the need of moment-by-moment looking unto Jesus, for then we would not need faith.
If the experience is defective, it is always because somewhere along this road of thirsting, coming, drinking, daily believing and overflowing, there has been neglect or disobedience. The doctrine is true: the defect lies somewhere in the lapse of duty.
Observe, finally, that the Spirit within the believer is "a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Just as Christ in us is but the hope of glory, greater glory to come (Colossians 1:27), and as the Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, foretaste of more to follow (Ephesians 1:14), so the Spirit-filled life ever increases from joy to joy, from power to more power, until it comes to perfection in heaven. "Spiritual life springs up toward its own perfection in eternal life." The Spirit-filled believer abounds more and more, day by day, in holiness and love and testimony and service, ever rising toward the glorious consummation in glory. "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18).
There is all the difference between this life of conscious power and peace and victory and the cheap "believism" current today,—as much difference as between the pouring out of the water from Siloam and the living waters of the Lord. This is no vague experience of trying to imagine that one has what it is more and more evident that he does not have. Whoever has known vividly this consuming thirst, who has come and received by true faith, not an easy assent to a fact, will find that the Spirit will soon bear witness with his spirit to the reality of the transaction. The confirmation will come: it may not come immediately; it may not come in blinding, dazzling fashion; it may not come in the manner expected or desired; but come it will if we drink and keep on drinking by simple faith in Him. Mind you, we are distinctly promised that we shall not thirst again (John 4:14). If we have received and are still drinking, and the channels are clear, we shall never thirst again. That part of the experience need never be repeated. Meet His simple conditions, and you will be conscious day by day of His Spirit welling up into everlasting life and flowing out in rivers of living water. "Up" and "out," those are the two directions of His power, upward ever toward perfection, outward ever in streams of blessing.
Hear Him Who still stands among the hollow ceremonies of earth, the futile outpourings of water from Siloam, calling, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." "Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (The Secret of Christian Joy)
Context is always critical for accurate interpretation in Bible study, but is especially important to set the stage for Jesus' dramatic invitation in John 7:37-39. Therefore it is important to be familiar with the historical and cultural context of the Feast of Booths (Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Ingathering, Festival of Shelters, Festival of Tabernacles, Sukkoth, Sukkot). We will begin with the Biblical command to Israel to celebrate this feast and then look at the extra-Biblical descriptions.
In Leviticus 23 Moses records God's commandment to celebrate the Feast of Booths which was to began on the 15th day of Tishri (the 7th month), which was five days after the Day of Atonement. ...
The Feast of Booths was a memorial ordained by God to help Israel remember how He had graciously and tenderly cared for them during their 40 years of wilderness wandering. In Exodus 16 Israel grumbled against the Lord and He provided them with meat and manna (Ex 16:12-13) to satiate their hunger and water to quench their thirst. In Exodus 17 we read of the Jehovah's provision of water in a no water environment which created a deep physical thirst in the people of Israel...
The dedication of Solomon's Temple took place at the Feast of Tabernacles at which time the Shekinah glory of Jehovah also dramatically appeared. One cannot help but see in these events a foreshadowing of the time when Jesus (Who displayed "glory as of the only begotten from the Father" = Jn 1:14-note) appearing in the Temple area at the Feast of Tabernacles some 900 years later in John 7:37-39!.
Even before the destruction of Solomon's Temple by the Babylonians, the glory of the Jehovah departed from the house of the LORD (Read about this progressive departure in Ezekiel 8-11 - see especially Ezek 8:4, Ezek 9:3, 10:4, Ezek 10:18-19, Ezek 11:22 and the last description of God's glory in Ezek 11:23 = "The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city." - Click for pictorial description of the departure of the Shekinah Glory). As an aside Ezekiel envisioned not only the departure but also the return of God's glory returning to the Millennial Temple (Ezekiel 43:2-5). However before this will be fulfilled in the future, we note that the glory did return for a brief time in the presence of Jesus (Jn 1:14-note), but Israel "did not recognize the time of their visitation." (Luke 19:44) Jesus' statement in Luke clearly indicates that the nation of Israel (especially the religious leaders) should have been able to discern the time when the Messiah was coming the first time!
After the 70 years of exile in Babylon, a portion of the Jews returned to Jerusalem. At this time Ezra read from the Book of the Law about the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (Neh 8:1-11). Read this great section of Scripture, which records the returning exile's great reverence for the Word of God and the impact the Word had on their hearts! O Father, might this to be the Spirit wrought effect in every church, every time the Word of Christ is read and explained! Amen. Indeed, the Word of God is living and active and cutting! Heb 4:12-13.
In Nehemiah 9 after reading "the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day" (Neh 9:3), the Levites offered up a long, profound prayer (Neh 9:5-38) of praise to God, including praise for His provision during their wilderness wanderings...
In the NT, Paul explains God's physical provisions in Exodus 16 and Exodus 17 were a foreshadowing of God's spiritual provision in Christ (cp Col 2:16-17) writing
Thus Paul explains that the SMITTEN ROCK in Exodus 17 was in fact a type of Christ, “a SPIRITUAL ROCK which followed Israel; and the ROCK WAS CHRIST.” (1Cor 10:4) Fanny Crosby pictured this NT fulfillment writing "Though my weary steps may falter, And my soul a-thirst may be, Gushing from the ROCK before me, Lo! A Spring of joy I see." Amen! Just as life giving waters flowed from the rock smitten by Moses to quench the thirst of a multitude, the smiting of the rock prefigured the life giving waters that flowed from Christ's pierced side (Jn 19:34-note), providing "LIVING WATER" to many, the Rock Himself declaring that "whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." (Jn 4:10, 14-note). All who drink of this water may joyfully sing "I've got a river of life flowin' out of me. Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see. Opens prison doors, sets the captives free. I've got a river of life flowin' out of me. Spring up Oh Well. Within my soul. Spring up Oh Well And make me whole. Spring up Oh Well And give to me That life abundantly." (P. Wickham)
The Jews were required to attend 3 festivals each year, Moses recording that...
Jewish Encyclopedia on etrog - Etrog is the Hebrew name of the citron fruit of a tree of the orange and lemon family....The etrog is used with the "lulab" at the Feast of Booths or Sukkot. Of the four species of plants enumerated in Leviticus 23:40, on which the carrying of the lulab is based, tradition takes "the fruit of splendid trees" (ESV)...to designate the citron....It is evident from Josephus and the Talmud that the custom of carrying the lulab and the etrog was well established in the time of the Maccabees.
Jewish Encyclopedia on lulab - Name given to the festive palm-branch which with the Etrog is carried and waved on the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). The three constituents of the lulab are: (1) a shoot of the palm-tree in its folded state before the leaves are spread out this must be at least three handbreadths long, so that it may be waved, and must be bound round with a twig or tendril of its own kind (2) three twigs of myrtle of the species which has its leaves in whorls of three and (3) two willow-branches of the kind of which the wood is reddish and the leaves are long and entire (Suk. 29b, 32b, 34a). In the Temple...The use of the lulab is closely connected with the reciting of the Hallel (Ps 113-118). In the Second Temple it was waved during the recitation of the passages expressive of thanksgiving or prayer...After the additional sacrifices of the day had been offered the lulab and etrog were carried in procession around the altar in the court while Ps 118:25 ("O LORD, do save, we beseech You; O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity!") or the refrain, was chanted....The ordinance of the lulab is derived from Leviticus 23:40 : "And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook: and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days." Aside from the palm-branch and the willows the passage does not specify what shall be used and the interpretation of the "fruit of goodly trees" and the "boughs of thick trees" to mean the etrog and myrtle respectively, as also the precise manner of using the four species, rests on tradition
Sukkot (Festival of Booths ["tabernacles" Leviticus 23:34 Deuteronomy 16:13 ]), lasting seven days, from the fifteenth to the twenty-second of the tenth month (Tishri), the first day being a holy convocation. For seven days offerings had to be brought (Numbers 29:13 ), the eighth day being also a holy convocation ("' Aẓ eret" Numbers 29:35 ). Labor ceased on the first and eighth days. This feast was also known as "Ḥ ag ha-Asif" ("the festival of ingathering" Exodus 23:16 ). The celebration was marked by the erection of booths, in which to dwell during seven days, and by the waving of palm-leaves with the fruit of the "' eẓ hadar" ("goodly tree" Leviticus 23:40 ). See Tabernacles, Feast of .
Kent Hughes on the celebration associated with the Feast of Booths - Rabbinical literature tells us that each morning great multitudes would gather at the Temple of Herod. They would come with a citrus fruit in their left hands, known in Hebrew as an etrog. The etrog was a reminder of the land to which God had brought them and of their bountiful blessings. In their right hands the people would carry a lulab, which was a combination of three trees—a palm tree, a willow, and a myrtle, emblematic of the stages of their ancestors’ journey through the wilderness. Each morning the people gathered together, and after the priest was sure everything was in order, he would hold out a golden pitcher. The crowds would then follow the priest to the Pool of Siloam, chanting some of the great Psalms and waving their lulabs in rhythm. As they approached the Pool of Siloam, the priest would dip his pitcher into the water,] and the people would recite some beautiful words from Isaiah 12:3-note: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Editorial Comment: The Hebrew word for salvation is yeshuah derived from yasha which means to deliver gives us the Greek name "Jesus" = transliteration of Hebrew Yeshua - 03091. And so this sentence could be read: "You will joyously draw water from the springs of Jesus!") Then the crowd would march back to the temple, entering through the Water Gate to the blast of the priests’ trumpets. The priest would then circle the altar once, ascend with accompanying priests to the platform, and pour the water out. This was a daily event.
Isaiah recalls God's kindness and His gracious gift to ungrateful grumblers...
The historian Josephus referred to the Feast of Booths as the holiest and greatest of all the Jewish feasts.
The Jewish writings in the Mishnah help us understand something of the prevalent joyful mood and celebratory atmosphere of the Jews in Jerusalem at the time of this great festival...
“The pipes [were played sometimes on] five [days], and [sometimes on] six days. This means, the pipes [music] played on during the water-drawing, which does not supersede either the Sabbath or the festival. They [the sages] said, "He who has not witnessed the rejoicings at the water-drawing, has, throughout the whole of his life, witnessed no [real] rejoicing." (Mishnah Sukkah 5.1)
So clearly the Feast of Booths was a time of great joy for the Jews in Jerusalem.
How was the pouring out of the water? A golden pitcher, that held three lugs was filled with water from the [brook] Siloah. When they came [with it] to the water-gate, they blew a blast, a long note, and again a blast. The priest then ascended the stair [of the altar], and turned to the left; two silver basins stood there. R. Jehudah saith, "they were of gypsum [stucco], but had a dark appearance from the wine." Each was perforated with a small hole, like a nostril [at the bottom]. The one [for the wine] somewhat wider, the other [for the water] narrower, that both might get empty at once. The one, to the west, [was used] for the water; the other, to the east, for the wine: but if the water was poured into the wine basin, or the wine into the water basin, it was legal. R. Jehudah saith, "They poured out one lug on each of the eight days. To him who poured out the water the people called, 'Raise thy hand;' for once it happened that one [priest charged with this duty] poured the water over his feet, and all the people pelted him to death with their citrons." (Mishnah Sukkah 5.1)
Lev 23:36 ‘For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the LORD; it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work.
Andrew Lincoln - In the first century CE (the Feast of Booths) celebrated the completion of the harvest and was associated with God’s guidance of Israel when the people lived in tents during the wilderness experience at the time of the exodus, but it had also become linked with the salvation God would provide at the eschaton (cf. Zech. 14:16-19)....The chief element in the celebration would have been the making of booths, in which the men slept and ate during the first seven days. On these days there was a procession to the Pool of Siloam to gather water and four large menorahs were set up in the court of the women, providing light to enable the celebrants to dance there through the night. Both the water/rain and the light imagery are taken up in the depiction of eschatological salvation in Zech. 14:6–8, 17. Both kinds of imagery would also have been linked with the provision offered by Torah. Here in John the former will be applied to Jesus in chapter 7 and the latter in chapter 8. The manna or bread, also associated with Torah, has just been depicted in chapter 6 as embodied in Jesus and the thematic sequence of the Christological application of bread, water and light imagery makes sense of the present arrangement of chapters, despite the geographical disruption caused by placing the material of chapter 6 between the Jerusalem controversies in chapters 5 and 7. (The Gospel according to Saint John, Black's New Testament Commentary)
The Hebrew word ṣukkāh is rendered in the King James Version as "booth" or "booths."
Booths (05521)(sukkah from sakak = to weave together) meant a shelter, a hut, a booth or a thicket. Sukkah described temporary shelters for animals (Ge 33:17), soldiers (2Sa 11:11), prophets (Jonah 4:5). In Lev 23:42-43 it refers to the booths constructed for the harvest feast, the Feast of Booths (Hebrew transliterated = hag [feast] hassukkot), which was held in the Fall (15th of Tishri - late Sept to Oct - see table for the Seven Great Feasts of Israel)
The Feast of Booths is often referred to as “the feast/festival” (without using the word "Booths" or "Tabernacles") (1Ki 8:2, 65, 12:32, 2Chr 5:3. 7:8, Neh 8:14, 18, Ezek 45:25.) The dedication of Solomon’s temple took place during the time of this festival and so it points to the importance of this feast (1 Kgs 8:2, 65–66). The location of the feast is now “at the place the LORD will choose,” and this probably indicates the centralizing of Israelite worship in the Jerusalem temple (Deut 16:15).
TWOT - Most commonly, (sukkah) is used in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles. Once a year the Israelite left his home to tabernacle in a “booth,” made from tree branches (Lev 23:34ff.). The feast marked not only the joy and thankfulness of a grateful people for God’s provision at the end of the agricultural season (Lev 23:39–41), but was to be a perpetual reminder (Deut 16:13ff.) to the people of God’s care for his own whom he had rescued from Egypt during those long years in the wilderness (Lev 23:42–43). The feast was closed by a day of rest, featured by a holy convocation, marking not only the climax of the religious year but symbolizing the rest of the believer in his God (Lev 23:39). Prophetically, the feast finds final fulfillment in that grand day when God will raise up the fallen booth of David (Amos 9:11) and give shelter to his repentant, redeemed, and re-gathered people (Isa 4:6). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)
TWOT on the derivation of sukkah - The basic meaning of the root (of sukkah) is that of blocking, or stopping up something....This important root is productive in both a physical and figurative sense, particularly with the idea of “covering.” In the former sense, it was frequently used in the building activities relative to the sacred places of worship. The cherubim’s wings were to cover the mercy seat in the tabernacle (Ex 37:9) and the temple (I Chr 28:18). A veil screened off the ark and the mercy seat which were located within the holy of holies (Ex 40:3, 21). The participial form yields the denominative sōkēk, a covering erected to protect besiegers from the defenders’ missiles (Nah 2:5 [H 6]).In a figurative sense, it pictures God’s protection for the one who comes to him for refuge (Ps 5:11; cf. Ps 91:4; 140:7)....
The Septuagint often translates sukkah with the noun skene which described temporary, easily moved lodging places (tents, booths) for nomads. It is fascinating that this same word (skene) describes our "eternal dwellings (skene)." (Lk 16:9). Skene was also used to describe the "portable sanctuary," the Tabernacle (Ex 27:21, 29:4, Lev 1:1, Heb 8:5)
Sukkah - 29v - Ge 33:17; Lev 23:34, 42-43; Deut 16:13, 16; 31:10; 2 Sam 11:11; 22:12; 1Kgs 20:12, 16; 2Chr 8:13; Ezra 3:4; Neh 8:14-17; Job 27:18; 36:29; 38:40; Ps 18:11; 31:20; Isa 1:8; 4:6; Amos 9:11; Jonah 4:5; Zech 14:16, 18-19 and translated in the NAS as - booth(1), Booths(9), booths(8), canopies(1), canopy(1), hut(1), lair(1), pavilion(1), shelter(4), temporary shelters(3).
The following Scriptures use sukkah in the context of the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles - Lev 23:34, 42-43, Kt 16:13, 16, 31:10, Ezra 3:4, Neh 8:14-17 and in the Millennial (see descriptions of this glorious time) reign of Messiah - Zech 14:16, 18-19.
The first use in Genesis 33:17 is interesting as the related proper noun Succoth is used twice - "Jacob journeyed to Succoth (derived from sakak), and built for himself a house and made booths (sukkah derived from sakak) for his livestock; therefore the place is named Succoth."
In Psalm 31:20 we see God's promised protection for the righteous - "You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man. You keep them secretly in a shelter (sukkah; Lxx = skene) from the strife of tongues."
Isaiah uses sukkah to describe the time of Messiah's reign on earth (Isa 4:1-5-see discussion of "in that day") when He promises that "There will be a shelter (tabernacle - sukkah) to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain." (Isaiah 4:6-see note) In Amos, Jehovah uses sukkah to describe the time in the Millennium when "I will raise up the fallen booth (sukkah) of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old." (Amos 9:11 - note the abrupt change of emphasis from Amos 9:10 from doom to hope! Prophecy of destruction gives way to prophecy of restoration for Israel [Amos is not speaking of the Church but the nation of Israel!] - cp Acts 15:15-17) John MacArthur writing on Amos 9:11-15 notes that "Millennial blessings await the final faithful remnant, when Messiah personally reigns over all nations in Jerusalem upon the throne of David, and the Jews are never again pulled up from their divinely inherited land." (Study Bible)
Abridged Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon on sukkah - thicket, booth (prop. of interwoven boughs) — 1. thicket, lurking-place of lions (cf. [סֹךְ] 1). 2. booth, crude or temporary shelter, for cattle (distinct fr. בַּיִת), but also for warriors in the field; for watchers in vineyards (sim.) (sim. of frailty), for man’s shelter from sun; poet. of fallen house (dynasty) of David; of clouds as (temporary) enclosure of ˊי in storm. 3. specif. of booths, made of boughs, in which people lived at harvest-feast, hence called חַג הַסֻּכוֹת.,
Holladay on sukkah - 1. thicket, as lion’s den Job 38:40;—2. hut made of branches & mats: a) in vineyard Isa 1:8, shelter fm. sun Isa4:6; for cattle Gen 33:17, travelers Lev 23:43, military camp 2Sa 11:11; metaphorically for those fearing God Ps 31:20; David’s empire = Am 9:11; b) ag hassukkôt, feast of huts (trad. transl.: of booths, or of tabernacles) Lv 23:34