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The Spirit of Life

June 9, 2019 Speaker: Brian Wilbur Series: Pentecost Sunday

Topic: the Holy Spirit Passage: John 7:37–7:39

THE SPIRIT OF LIFE

An Exposition of John 7:37-39

By Pastor Brian Wilbur

Date:   June 9, 2019

Series: Pentecost Sunday

Note:   Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard   Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

INTRODUCTION: PENTECOST SUNDAY

“The Comforter has come!”[1] Yes and amen! His coming is a vital part of the gospel that we proclaim. During Advent we remember that our Lord came. During Holy Week we remember that our Lord died and rose again. Now on this Pentecost Sunday we remember that our risen and ascended Lord, acting with sovereign authority from His heavenly throne, gave the Spirit to His people.

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on God’s people is no small thing; the Old Testament promised it, and the Lord Jesus Christ brought it to pass. The Holy Spirit enriches the believer’s relationship with the Father, empowers us to live a godly life, and equips us with spiritual gifts for building up the church and advancing Christ’s mission. Without the Holy Spirit, our doctrine is relegated to words on the written page. But with the Holy Spirit, our doctrine is set ablaze in transformed lives that are characterized by worshiping God in spirit and in truth and by walking in holiness, love, and evangelistic mission.

To celebrate this special day, let us turn our attention to John 7:37-39.   

THE SCRIPTURAL TEXT

Holy Scripture says,


37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37-39)

JESUS AT THE FEAST OF BOOTHS

Our passage is set in the context of a feast. Jesus gave this invitation “[on] the last day of the feast,” and as we turn back to the beginning of the chapter we learn that the feast in view is the Feast of Booths. Chapter 7 begins,

“After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand.” (John 7:1-2)

The Feast of Booths, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, and also known as the Feast of Ingathering, was a weeklong festival that the Lord established for His people, Israel. The purpose of the Feast of Booths was to remember that the Lord had brought Israel out of the oppression they faced in Egypt, that the Lord had sustained them in the wilderness when they lived in booths (temporary dwellings), and that the Lord continued to bless them by blessing their labor and providing them with food and drink.

The Feast of Booths took place in the fall after the people had been able to collect and process the harvest of the fields and vineyards. During this festival the people had an opportunity to rejoice before the Lord for all of His generosity and grace toward them, and to worship the Lord in His holy temple. All this took place in Jerusalem, which means that Israelites had to travel from their homes in order to spend an entire week in the holy city. They would construct booths and live in them for the week, thus reminding them very tangibly of how the Lord had provided for Israel during the wilderness years. In the wilderness years, the people didn’t have permanent abodes, and yet the Lord provided manna from heaven and “gave them water for their thirst” (Nehemiah 9:20), and their clothing didn’t wear out and their feet didn’t swell (Deuteronomy 8:2-4, Nehemiah 9:20-21). Only a humble people who have learned to trust God in the wilderness can handle the blessings of wealth; only a people who know that every good thing is a gift from above can keep on worshiping the Lord when their hands are full of blessing (Deuteronomy 8:1-20). And it was the Lord’s intent to bless His people with great abundance:

“For the LORD your God is bring you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.” (Deuteronomy 8:7-10)

It was imperative that Israel remember that all her blessings came from the Lord’s loving hand, and the energetic observance of the Feast of Booths was one tangible way to remember this and to “bless the LORD” for His many gifts. Indeed, God’s design for this feast was that it be a joyful, weeklong festival celebrating His gracious redemption of Israel and His generous care for His people. The Feast of Booths wasn’t an exercise in grim religiosity in which we abstain from God’s good gifts in a futile attempt to feel more spiritual. Instead this was God-ordained, God-centered joy in which we give thanks for the fat of the earth and trust God to keep the harvest plentiful and the vats full.  

And there was more: beyond the bounty of earth, the faithful looked forward to that time when the Messiah would come and bring about the days of blessing, righteousness, and peace.

Now, in John 7, the Lord of the feast goes up to the festival and announces that the day of fulfillment draws near.

COME AND DRINK!

There is obvious progression in John 7, from the day Jesus arrived at the feast, into and through the middle days, leading finally to the end of the feast. The festival is moving toward its conclusion and climax – as “the last day” is called “the great day” – and the Lord of the feast is likewise moving to a climactic moment of instruction and invitation. He “went up” to the feast (v. 10), then He “went up” to the temple where He taught (v. 14), and now finally He “stood up” (v. 37) – and the special importance of what He is about to say is indicated by the phrase “cried out.” All of Jesus’ teaching is of vital importance, but especially this: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

It is significant that Jesus made this statement about “rivers of living water” in relation to the Feast of Booths. For water had become an important part of the celebration of this feast. To begin with, keep in mind that part of the goodness of the land that God had given to Israel was that it was “a land of brooks and water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills” (Deuteronomy 8:7), and this abundance of flowing water was essential to the production of fruits and vegetables. And the successful production of fruits and vegetables was part of the background to the annual Feast of Booths: “You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress.” (Deuteronomy 16:13) So the wheat is first gathered, then threshed and stored away; the grapes are first gathered, then pressed and put into vats. Then you celebrate the faithfulness of God during the Feast of Booths: “For seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.” (Deuteronomy 16:15)

O Israel, the Lord is blessing you and your land and your labor, and therefore your joy is full! It is an earthy joy that partakes of bread and wine, pomegranates and honey, fig cakes and fresh salads, tender beef and roasted vegetables. And yet, this earthy joy is a gift from heaven and the joy returns there in the form of praise and thanksgiving to “the LORD your God.” And part of the Lord’s promised blessing was the gift of rain: “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full.” (Deuteronomy 8:13-15) So you can see how water – both the water flowing forth from fountains and springs and the water falling from the rainclouds above – was an important part of the backdrop to the Feast of Booths. In this vein, a tradition grew up in the Jews’ celebration of this feast, and they would pour out water as a drink offering, and they would pray for rain for the next growing season. They would pray, “Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!” (Psalm 118:25) As Don Carson points out, they would also “[anticipate]… God’s promises to pour out spiritual ‘rains’ in the messianic age.”[2] They would ponder the promise: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3)

Water is a precious gift; water satisfies a parched and thirsty land; water makes it possible for life to spring up and bear fruit. And the physicality of water and land, orchard and vineyard, pasture and grain field, is a truly good thing – one of God’s good gifts to the children of men. And yet, there is a far more pressing need that runs deeper than the springs and streams that cut their course through the earth. So Jesus looks out upon a people who are legitimately thankful for the water that was supplied during the last growing season and who are legitimately prayer for water to be supplied for the next growing season, and who know – or at least ought to know – that there is a spiritual reality that transcends the physical, and He calls attention to that thirst of soul that can only be satisfied by spiritual water: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”

Notice three things: the great need; the great invitation; and the great promise.

1) The Great Need

First, the great need: “If anyone thirsts.” Jesus has in mind not the parched land or the dry throat, but the parched soul and the dehydrated heart. Sinners, precisely because they are alienated from God, have dry hearts and impoverished souls. Although they are physically alive, they are spiritually barren and unfruitful. To be spiritually thirsty means that you are far from God: you don’t have His life pulsating within you, you don’t have a satisfied soul, you don’t have a joyful heart, and spiritual fruit isn’t growing on the tree of your life. Instead you are experiencing angst, dissatisfaction, and lack. You attempt to fill the void with other things, but they never deliver. You are always ‘coming up short’. You chase meaningful experiences – films, festivals, friendships, financial progress – but after the effect of short-term excitement wears off, the gage on your heart reads empty again. You try your hand at religion, but your religious devotion doesn’t bring God near. Sometimes the busyness of life or the sound of company distracts you, but sooner or later you return to the quietness of your own little room, and when there you know that all is not well. You thirst, but don’t know where to go.

Do you remember the parable about the younger son who took his share of his father’s inheritance and went into a far country? In that far country he wasted his wealth on what he thought was the good life, but then his wealth ran out, his fair-weather friends scattered, and “a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.” (Luke 15:14) The famine in the land was indicative of the deeper famine in his heart. He became a slave whose job was to feed pigs, and his soul continued to waste away. In the face of extreme poverty, he finally reckoned with the fact that he was hungry: “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father….”” (Luke 15:17-18)

O sinner: have you reckoned with your spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst? You who are older in years: have you settled for religiosity and ignored the deeper hunger within? Children and youth: are you coasting along on your parents’ faith and missing the spiritual refreshment that could be yours? You will not come to the fountain and drink, until you are sensibly aware of your thirst. “If anyone thirsts”: thirst is the great need that each and every human being must address.

2) The Great Invitation

The great need leads into the great invitation: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” Jesus alone is the great Satisfier of the thirsty soul, and it is to Him that we must come. Even within a Christian context we are apt to replace the centrality of Christ with some nice-sounding religious alternative.

The Bible is foundational for Christian life and growth, but the Bible will not help you unless you come to Jesus. Jesus said to the religious leaders: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)

The Church is central to God’s plan for Christians being the faithful people that God calls us to be, but the Church is not the giver of life. Relational connectedness to each other is important, but it is no substitute for “holding fast to the Head” (Colossians 2:19).

Utilizing our gifts in ministry is important for loving each other and advancing God’s kingdom in the world, but the activity of ministry is not the spring of salvation. What advantage is it to perform good works in the name of Christ, and yet not know Him? Jesus said, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast our demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:22-23)

Worship services and religious observances are important in expressing and growing our faith, but they do not generate spiritual life in the worshipers. Isaiah 1 describes a people who were dutiful in terms of formal religious services, but their formal piety was no substitute for their ungodly lives. And what was the root of their ungodly lives? “They have forsaken the LORD” (Isaiah 1:4).

Forsaking the Lord is humanity’s fundamental problem. “Be appalled, O heavens, at this: be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:12-13)

Now in John 7 “the fountain of living waters” stands up on “the great day” of the feast and says: “come to me and drink.” He is the eternal Word by whom all things were made (John 1:1-2). He is the true light who shines in the darkness (John 1:5, 9). He alone knows the Father because He has always been “at the Father’s side” (John 1:18), and then at the turning of the ages He “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) He is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) He is “the living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:51). He is the faithful Son who is able to release sinners from their captivity to sin (John 8:34-36). He is “[the] good shepherd [who] lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) He is “the resurrection and the life” who conquers death and brings us into the realm of eternal life. He is the sovereign Lord who washes His disciples’ feet, the Prince of heaven who goes to prepare a place for us in the Father’s house, the Great High Priest who intercedes for us, the unblemished Lamb who died for us and now lives for us, the triumphant King who overcame the world and grants peace to His people.

If you would know the Father, if you would stand in the truth, if you would be forgiven of the guilt of your sin and be freed from the power of your sin, if you would be transformed into a son or daughter of light who walks in the light, if you would have your thirst quenched and your hunger satisfied, then come to Jesus and drink.

Believing is Feasting

By using words like thirsting and drinking, Jesus shows us that true faith is not a merely mental agreement with certain theological doctrines. Praying the sinner’s prayer on the basis of mere mental agreement never did any good to anyone, because mere mental agreement isn’t faith. Mentally affirming the electrolyte replenishment capability of Gatorade doesn’t replenish you; you must actually take up and drink. Just as physical drinking quenches physical thirst, so spiritual drinking quenches spiritual thirst.

Spiritual drinking involves the innermost person of the heart, the inward affections and desires and longings of the soul – this is where the thirst is, and this is what Jesus addresses as we drink Him. Coming to Jesus and drinking is what it means to believe, as verse 38 shows us: “Whoever believes in me” – in other words, whoever does what I just invited the thirsty to do, whoever comes to me and drinks – “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Likewise in John 6: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) True faith involves our inner person in the nourishing and satisfying activity of spiritual eating and spiritual drinking. Believing in Jesus means feasting on Jesus and feasting on His words, for Jesus said in John 6: “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)

3) The Great Promise

So the great invitation is for anyone who has the great need of spiritual thirst to come to Jesus, the great thirst-quencher, and drink. And Jesus has a great promise for any thirsty person who comes to Him and drinks, for any bankrupt person who believes in Him: “as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Here is a great promise that goes back to the Old Testament Scripture. Just consider some short clips from the prophet Isaiah:

“For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.” (Isaiah 35:6-7)

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.” (Isaiah 44:3-4)

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1).

“… and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)

Scriptural glories such as these are now proclaimed by Jesus to everyone who trusts in Him. Jesus’ great promise about “rivers of living water” show us at least three things.

The Believer is Satisfied

First, the great promise is that everyone who believes in Jesus will be satisfied with the spiritual life that Jesus gives. What was once a parched land now has “rivers of living water” flowing through it. What was once a wilderness is now a well-watered garden. What was once an unproductive field is now full of life and health and growth and fruit. These “rivers of living water” are not small, stagnant pools nor tiny, little drops; instead they are mighty rivers that are ‘on the move’. Kevin Howard says that these “rivers of living water” are like “brooks and rivers which are fed by springs” and are thus “replenishable”.[3] You may recall that in John 4, when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman who had come to draw water from the local well, He told her: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14) Jesus promises eternal satisfaction to everyone who believes in Him.

Having drunk from the fullness of Christ, the believer’s heart becomes a perpetual spring of living water and this spring creates “rivers of living water” that are flowing out of the heart, thus bringing life and vitality to the entirety of the believer’s life. Are you full of these rivers?

Notice how the shift in metaphor points to the great miracle that God does when He saves a sinner. You come to Jesus for a drink, and you drink and you are satisfied. So far, so good. But by drinking you are immediately transformed into a vast world – a vast spiritual ecosystem – that contains rivers of spiritual refreshment. The thirsty man’s soul becomes a deep well that feeds into five rivers! Do you see how this describes a miracle? When the wilderness comes under the influence of Jesus, it is transformed into paradise. And so it is – as we sang in that wonderful hymn – that “a child of hell” becomes a man or woman who shines in God’s image.[4]

The Satisfied Believer is a Conduit of Spiritual Blessing to Others

The great promise of verse 38, however, seems to go beyond the believer’s satisfied soul. Just consider the words: ‘Out of [the believer’s] heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Not: In the believer’s heart will sit large pools of standing water. But: ‘Out of the believer’s heart will flow rivers of living water.’ As I said earlier, these rivers flowing out of your heart, which is your innermost being and the control center of your life, will necessarily infuse spiritual vitality into every nook and cranny of your life. But why should these rivers stop their flow at the borderline of your individual life? Why should this vast world that contains rivers of spiritual refreshment be a self-enclosed world?

So second, the great promise is that everyone who believes in Jesus will become a conduit of spiritual life to others. In other words, the “rivers of living water” within you are not for you only. These “rivers of living water” are also for the benefit of others. Therefore these lively rivers are flowing “out of [your] heart” and, through your words and deeds, these lively rivers are able to bring spiritual refreshment to others.

This double spiritual dynamic of being satisfied in the Lord and being a conduit of His blessing to others, is found throughout Scripture. The thing that really matters, says Paul, is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6): faith drinks in the fullness of Christ, and love pours it out on others. Jesus said to Peter and Andrew: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) We trust Jesus so as to follow Him closely, and He transforms us into people who work with Him in order to win others into His kingdom. The righteous man in Psalm 112 has a firm heart, “trusting in the LORD” (Psalm 112:7) and, at the same time, a generous heart that blesses other people (Psalm 112:4-5). The wise man of the Proverbs is wise, in the most fundamental sense, because he what? Because he fears the Lord and because he knows the Lord (Proverbs 9:10). But what does the wise man do for others? “[The] tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) The faithful, righteous, and wise disciple has wonderful inflow because he draws near to the Lord and drinks in the Lord’s grace and steadfast love. Consequently the faithful, righteous, and wise disciple has wonderful outflow, because living water is flowing out of his heart for the good of others.   

Those who know you best, what would they say about you? Your spouse and your kids, your parents and siblings, your close friends and colleagues, the people with whom you work side-by-side in ministry – would they say, ‘When I am in your presence, it is obvious that I am in the presence of Christ, because “rivers of living water” from Christ are flowing out of you?’ I am not asking if you agree with the theological reality of which I speak – I hope you do agree with it, but that’s not what I’m asking. What I’m asking is if the people around you would say that you are obviously a man or woman who lives in the presence of God, who drinks from the fountain of living water, who is receiving satisfaction and joy from the Lord – would they say this on the basis of their experience that healing streams and refreshing waters are always flowing out of you for their good and the good of others? Brother, sister, stranger, friend: what is flowing out of your heart? David Powlison, a faithful leader in the evangelical world, went home to be with the Lord on Friday. A man paid David this great compliment: “Without exaggeration I can say that I walked away from every encounter with David wanting to know God more and love people better.”[5] This is what happens when living water is flowing out of your life.

The Presence and Activity of the Holy Spirit

Third, and most foundationally, this great promise of “living waters” that satisfies your heart and becomes a source of spiritual refreshment for others is, in fact, all about the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in those who believe. The great promise is that believers will receive the life-giving and life-sustaining and life-spreading ministry of the Holy Spirit. Look at verse 39 – verse 39 is John’s inspired commentary on what Jesus just said. Verse 39 says:

“Now this [‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’] he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

A thirsty, parched, dry, and barren land is a powerful metaphor for spiritual death. Then we come to the metaphor of rivers flowing through the once barren land, and this is a powerful metaphor for the gift of spiritual life. Now there is vitality, nourishment, and growth. Now fields can grow their crops, and trees their fruit, and pastures their grass; now the animals can graze, and the birds can nest in the trees, and the bakery and winery and cider mill can get to work, and the marketplace can open. Life! And you should ask yourself if this metaphor reflects the reality of your life, if not a small pool of standing water or a few puddles scattered about but large, powerful rivers are coursing through your heart and soul, filling you up and pouring out of you for the benefit of others. But when we come to verse 39, what we realize is that the metaphor doesn’t overstate the spiritual reality, but actually understates it. What is the spiritual reality? The Holy Spirit, the third person of the glorious triune God, indwells His people, fills His people, and makes His people a profound blessing to one another and to the world. Is the Spirit of the living God within you, or are you still athirst in a barren land? Is the life of Almighty God pulsating in your heart, or are you still trying to manufacture your own pseudo-religion? Is the Holy Spirit causing you to pour yourself out for the good of others such that others get a taste of Jesus when they spend time with you, or are you walled up (not welled up, walled up!) in your own little self-protecting world?

Friends, verse 39 is about God’s mission to the world – and in God’s wise and perfect plan, the Holy Spirit would not be poured out on God’s people until Jesus had accomplished His saving work: “for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” In just a short time from the events of John 7, Jesus would go to the cross and He, the Lamb of God, would lay down His life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Then He rose from the dead and, for forty days, He interacted with His disciples and gave them further instruction about the kingdom of God. Then after those forty days He ascended into heaven and sat down at the Father’s right hand, being thus installed as the King of kings and invested with sovereign authority over heaven and earth. Only after the suffering and death, and only after the resurrection and return to glory, would Jesus then carry out the next part of the plan: to give the promise of the Holy Spirit to His people.

The Holy Spirit brings the life-giving power of heaven into our ordinary earthly lives and propels us into God’s mission: “rivers of living water” flow out of us as we proclaim the gospel, make disciples, build up the church, edify believers, care for one another, help the weak, bring back the strays, show kindness to our neighbors, and reflect the joy of the Lord in all that we are and do. And this is not something we pull off in our own strength. These “rivers of living water” are not under our control, but Jesus puts them within us, that is, He gives to us His life-giving Spirit, and it is the Spirit working through us, the rivers flowing out of us, that brings spiritual refreshment to others.

ARE YOU LIVING IN THE REALITY OF JOHN 7:37-39?

It is good and well to pray for the gift of physical rain upon the land. But there is another gift of another kind of rain that is so desperately needed upon our land, upon our people. How many people outside of the church are athirst in a spiritual wilderness, far from God and destined to perish? How many people inside the church are weak, weary, and wobbling about? Would you like to do something about it? Well, look no further than John 7:37-39. God’s plan to get “rivers of living water” to a dissatisfied and dying world is though the Spirit-filled Church that proclaims and embodies the good news about Jesus.

Are you part of this conduit of life? The promise stands: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

I say to every unconverted, thirsty soul: Come to Jesus and drink! Turn away from the dead-end path of sin, and entrust your famished soul to Jesus, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!

I also have a word of application for people whom we might call ‘dehydrated saints’. I wonder if there is a man or woman here this morning who experienced this “rivers of living water” reality some years ago (or at least you think you did), but now after a string of apparently small missteps, you’re basically burned out and dried up. Scripture shows us that it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), to quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19), to get out-of-step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:13–6:10). Scripture calls us to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) – this isn’t something that we do once at the beginning of the Christian life, but something that we must continually do: continually surrender to the Lord, continually rely on God’s strength, continually yield to the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit. But at some point along the way, you became a ‘dehydrated saint’ and lost your way. What now?

There was a song written back in the 1970s that may speak to your heart:

“There was a time of tenderness in me

And in that tenderness was liberty

But through the cares of life I built a shell

That hardened me from hurt, but God as well

“Our lives, they get so stale, they get so cold,

How often we are found in hardened mold,

But God, I recognize my need again,

Come by Your Spirit, revive my soul again

“Lord, move me with your message once again,

It’s been so long since I have broke within,

Please take me back once more to Calvary

‘Till one more time Your message moves me.”[6]

O weary saints, come to the Lamb of Calvary and drink! Ask for His strength to visit you in your weakness, and for His grace to make you tender again, and for His life to refill your empty cup, and for His Spirit like a mighty flowing river to flow through you and out of you, so that you might truly share the blessing of God with those around you.

Brothers and sisters: “The Comforter has come!” Live in the abundance of this free and precious gift! Be the “fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills,” who bring life to the Oxford Hills!

Let us pray.

 

ENDNOTES

[1] From the hymn “The Comforter Has Come” by Frank Bottome.

[2] D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (The Pillar New Testament Commentary). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991: p. 322.

[3] Kevin L. Howard, “Sukkot – The Feast of Tabernacles.” In Kevin Howard and Marv Rosenthal, The Feasts of the Lord: God’s Prophetic Calendar from Calvary to the Kingdom. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997: p. 147.

[4] Quote and concept from the hymn “The Comforter Has Come” by Frank Bottome.

[5] Kevin DeYoung, “Remembering David Powlison.” Published by The Gospel Coalition, June 8, 2019. Available online: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/remembering-davi/.

[6] Brandt Gillespie, “Move Me With Your Message.”

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

The following items were among the resources helpful in understanding the Feast of Booths.

Block, Daniel I. Deuteronomy (The NIV Application Commentary). Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012

D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (The Pillar New Testament Commentary). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.

Kevin L. Howard, “Sukkot – The Feast of Tabernacles.” In Kevin Howard and Marv Rosenthal, The Feasts of the Lord: God’s Prophetic Calendar from Calvary to the Kingdom. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997.