"Are You Thirsty?"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2016 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
OK, John chapter 7, beginning to read at verse 37: "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart'", his innermost being, "'will flow rivers of living water'. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, 'Truly this is the Prophet'. Others said, 'This is the Christ'. But some said, 'Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?'. So there was a division among the people because of Him. Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him".
Let's just bow in a moment's prayer. Father, we thank You for everything that has happened already, and we just want to reverence, invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We want to praise the name of Jesus. We believe the Holy Spirit loves to exalt the name of Christ, and so we want to join with Him, according to His agenda, and we want to worship at the feet of the Lord and Saviour, the Son of God, the Man of Calvary, the One who is risen from the dead, the One who has ascended up on high at the right hand of the Father - we declare that He is Lord of all. We desire that He would be Lord of this meeting tonight, of the very atmosphere, of everything that will transpire. We covet the exaltation and the preeminence, the supremacy of Jesus Christ, and that the Holy Spirit might come and minister His truth to all our lives. For His glory we pray, Amen.
Well, I want to speak to you on the heading: 'Are You Thirsty?' - a question. Of course [these meetings] are 'Are You Thirsty for God?'. I'm a wee bit slow on it, I have to tell you, I had this message before I realised the connection with the name of the meetings - but that must show you God is in it somewhere! It says here in verse 37: 'On the last day, that great day of the feast'. Some of us are so familiar with these verses in particular, that we don't know the context and background of them. What was this feast, and what was the last day of it? Well, some of you may be aware that this feast was the Feast of Tabernacles. We don't have time to look at this, but you find the background, historically, to this in Leviticus chapter 23 - save to say that this feast came five days after the feast of Yom Kippur. Who knows what the feast of Yom Kippur is? 'The Day of Atonement', yes - and we see that as a type, a picture of the death of our Lord Jesus, His redemption, His shed blood, His sacrifice as the Lamb of God. So, five days after this (and five, incidentally in the Bible, is the number of grace), five days after they would hold this festival of Tabernacles, or it's also called 'The Feast of Booths'. The reason for that is that they would commemorate their wilderness wanderings - after they were delivered by the lamb out of Egypt, walked through the Red Sea salvation, into the promised land, they lived in booths, little tabernacles - and they commemorated it by building these little huts for themselves; it's called 'sukkot' in the Hebrew.
It was a great festival of joy, Yom Kippur was more of a time of solemn commemoration and a little bit of mourning in a sense, but Sukkot, the festival of the Feast of Tabernacles was a time of great joy, celebration, and rejoicing. It lasted seven days, and every single day in the Feast of Tabernacles the High Priest would go to the Pool of Siloam. Now, you will have heard of the Pool of Siloam - that's where Jesus, remember, anointed the blind man's eyes with mud and water - but the High Priest would go down in great procession and draw water from the Pool of Siloam in a golden pitcher. Then he would bring the water to the Water Gate in Jerusalem, and pour it into a silver basin at the altar. Then - this is every day of these seven days - then he would take that water, quite an amount of water, and he would pour it out from the Temple, down the Temple steps, and it would run into the Temple Court and into the precinct. While they were doing that they would recite many scriptures, some of which we find in Psalm 118 and other parts of Isaiah, but one of the main scriptures that would have come to people's minds and they would have been saying is Isaiah 12 and verse 3: 'Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation'. Now, incidentally, the word 'salvation' there in the Hebrew is 'Yeshua', which is the name 'Jesus': 'Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of Yeshua' - isn't that wonderful?
The water pouring was to commemorate - just like the making of their little tents to commemorate the booths and the Tabernacle - the water pouring was to commemorate how God supernaturally provided water for them from the rock right throughout their wilderness wanderings. But the rabbis taught that this was more than just commemoration, and it was more than just asking God, a request and petition in prayer, for winter rains - but they believed in their hearts that this was actually an illustration of the messianic redemption that would come, that the waters of the Holy Spirit would be poured out as a sign - because that's Isaiah 61: 'The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me'. They understood the prophetic significance of this.
Now, what does it say here in verse 37? 'On the last day, that great day of the feast' - seven days this water has been poured out, and the water is running down the steps of the Temple into the precinct, and to that backdrop Jesus cries out: 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water'. Do you see the significance of this? Now there is a bit of debate, as there usually is with scriptures, whether this is the seventh day or the eighth day - because although the feast lasted seven days, there was an eighth day that through history became tagged on, and it was a solemn assembly, it was a day when the water wasn't poured out. So it could have been that the backdrop to these words of Jesus was the water being poured out; but it may also have been that this was the eighth day, which became known as 'the great day of the feast', and that actually the water wasn't being poured out that day - but Jesus was saying: 'Come to me, and I will give you real water'. I don't know which it is, it doesn't really matter - all that matters is that we know where to go to get it, and that's Jesus.
The Feast of Tabernacles also commemorated not just the booths and tents that they lived in, but the Tabernacle. Moses was given the pattern of that when he went up the Mount, and of course that was the place of worship, the centre where God's presence dwelt in the wilderness. In Hebrew, the word for 'Tabernacle' is 'Hamishkan', and the root of that word is significant, it's the word 'shekan' - we derive a word from it, 'Shekinah' glory. So 'Tabernacle' literally means 'the dwelling place of the Shekinah glory of God'. The Shekinah glory is what we understand as we go through the Old and New Testaments as the type phenomenon that appears when God shows up - there can be clouds of smoke, darkness, pillars of light, angelic hosts, all sorts of things can take place when God is around. The Tabernacle was the dwelling place where God was.
Now, we've got to fast forward and come right up to date into the Gospels. We read in John 1 verse 14 that: 'the Word was made flesh and dwelt', literally the word is 'tabernacled', 'among us'. So what happened was a new thing, God is always into new things, but this was entirely new. This was not Shekinah glory that was a physical manifestation when the invisible God was around, this was a physical manifestation incarnate, in human flesh, of the invisible God made visible in His Son. John says: 'We beheld His glory, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth'.
Now, fast forwarding again, Jesus dies, He rises again, He ascends to heaven, and God's other new thing is the church. On the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, God makes a new Temple - God does not dwell in temples made with hands, but He now dwells in living stones, that's people from all cultures, from all classes, from all backgrounds and nations across the world; He is building a new edifice. The book of Ephesians says 'we are being made a holy Temple in the Lord'. Each individual stone in that Temple - you, as a Christian, if you're born-again tonight - God's word says to you, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 'Do you not know that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, whose you are?'. God indwells the Christian.
Now I want you to understand: the Feast of Tabernacles, commemorating the little booths, commemorating the water being outpoured supernaturally in the wilderness, but also commemorating the dwelling place in the tent that is the Tabernacle, that God dwelt with His people - but now there is something that monumentally surpasses all of that, and that is: God, not dwelling in the midst of his people, but God indwelling His people! That's New Testament Christianity! That is far beyond anything that the Old Testament ever knew about!
So here Jesus is standing in front of this edifice of the Temple, and all that it enshrined, and this practice of pouring out the water, commemorating the Tabernacle, the dwelling place of God, and what is He saying? 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me', and He is contrasting established religion, dead form, those who've got all their doctrines right and their practices exact, but actually it's empty. It's a form of godliness that denies the power, but He is standing there as the poor Rabbi from Nazareth, and He is saying: 'If you really are thirsty, you need to come to Me! Come to Me and drink!'. That has always, really, been - right throughout the ages since Jesus and even before Him - it has always been the tension between empty religion, external allegiance to certain practices and beliefs, and those who truly know God and have got life and have got heart.
I wonder what you've got tonight? Do you have true Christianity as opposed to the form, the form of godliness that denies the power? Our land of Ulster, and indeed Ireland, is just littered, it's glutted with false religion - Protestant, Roman Catholic, and other. I don't know what you've got tonight, whether you've got these water pots, whether you've got all the pomp and the ceremony. It looks good, it sounds good - I mean, they blew trumpets and all to tell everybody they were doing it, they had all sorts of things to wave in the air, and it was a great festivity - but it was nothing. It was empty of spiritual significance. Anybody who looked at Jesus would have thought there was nothing there, but - boy - anybody that came to Him thirsty, discovered that they found water and they would never thirst again. Have you got that water tonight? Listen: we've got so many stained-glass window pictures of Jesus - I'm not against stained-glass windows by the way - but, you know, even kiddies storybook pictures of Jesus. I think it was last year I talked about anger, Jesus being angry and clearing out the Temple of all this rubbish - we don't picture Jesus as angry, do we? Here we have Jesus shouting, shouting! That's what it literally says, He cried with a loud voice, He shouted to the crowd: 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink!'. He maybe needed to shout because there was a whole lot of commotion going on, I don't know - but He shouted! Listen: this is something worth shouting about!
God gives the Spirit without measure. Now right away some people jump in there and say, 'Oh, He only gave the Spirit without measure to Jesus'. Well, I'm not sure about that, that's not what the verse says. It does say that in the context of referring to Jesus, but it says: 'God gives the Spirit without measure'. It doesn't say He gives the Spirit to Jesus without measure, it says 'God gives the Spirit without measure'. I think what you're floundering at is perhaps the fact that Jesus had perfect capacity to receive the Spirit that God was pouring out without measure. But you need to understand tonight, as the apostle Paul said, God's desire is to fill us with all the fullness of God - now, is that not without measure? The word 'without measure' literally means 'limitless', God gives the Spirit without limit.
Do you want that? Are you thirsty for that? Are you? Well, if you are, I'm going to give you seven things - and don't worry, they'll not be too long - seven things that you need to do from these verses in order to realise this power of the Holy Spirit in your life, OK? You might want to jot these down or get the recording afterward, and I'm going to be as practical as I possibly can be. The first thing that you need is: you need desire. Now I spent a whole evening, when I was last here, talking about this - but I need to say it again: look at what Jesus says, 'If anyone thirsts'. Now that, if you like, is the primary qualification, the primary qualification to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to know more of God, to be filled with all the fullness of God, to receive a baptism in the Holy Spirit, to know this unction from on high, to know this power of God that will transform your life and transform your ministry if you have one: if anyone thirsts - and 'anyone' means male or female, it doesn't matter what your creed is, it doesn't matter whether you're a Protestant or Roman Catholic, it doesn't matter whether you go to church or you don't - do you understand now? I know that's hard for some of you to swallow, but God isn't interested in any of that stuff, He's not! All He is interested in is whether or not you have a thirst. He doesn't care where you come from, He doesn't care! I'm not saying He doesn't care what you believe, but He doesn't care where you come from. He wants to know: are you thirsty after Him?
Maybe your problem is, as Ryan has said (and it was a great lead-in), you're thirsty for things that are not God. You desire and have passions for things that are wrong, you've got wrong desires. This was the problem of God's people right throughout their history. In Jeremiah 2 and verse 12 we read: 'My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and have hewn out for themselves cisterns; cisterns that can hold no water because they are broken!'. You see, that's what society is doing, they're trying to satisfy desires, passions, and lusts through the things of the flesh - and it is very, very tempting, very hard to resist, even as Christians, because there is a pleasure and there is an immediate fix from it. But, you see, we as Christians are meant to have the living water, and the problem is not - now, stay with me here - it's not so much that we desire the wrong thing, the problem rather is that our desire and our lust is not great enough for the right things! I know it's strange using that word 'lust', but the Authorised Version actually uses it, and it is rather strange there in Galatians where it talks about the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit lusting against the flesh - it literally means it is 'striving against'. But what I'm trying to get into our heads just now is this idea of passion and desire - that it's not, in fact, that they are too great, they are too weak! Listen to what C.S. Lewis says: 'It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased'.
Now listen: if you want to know the Spirit's fullness in your life, you've got to desire Him, you've got to desire God. Do you remember the last time I was here, those of you who were at the meeting, I talked about that appetite test? Do you remember that one? It shocked me. I'll tell you what it is if you weren't here: it encouraged you to write down normal human appetites, so things like food, sleep, rest, leisure, sexuality, various things like that that are normal to the human being. Then put other things that you might like as hobbies, or interests, and so on and so forth. Then it asks you to put those into some kind of order, pecking order from 1 right through, and ask yourself honestly where your desire for God was on that list. Now I thought, before I did this exercise - well, I wasn't so proud to think that God would be up there at number 1, OK, I was realistic enough for that, but I thought He would be round about 3 or something like that. Do you know where He was? I can't remember exactly - which is convenient - but it was between 13 and 17, somewhere around there. Now that shocked me, if that's shocking you, that shocked me - but really this is what the test is (you might say, 'Boy, you're some preacher'), but this is what the test is, listen: in the moment when you're faced with doing one of those things that is a normal, not necessarily sinful, but a normal human appetite that you have a desire and passion for, when you're faced with that or you're faced with spending time with God, which do you do? Who wins out?
Now, when you look at it like that, it's very different, isn't it? I'm not suggesting anybody can sustain such a level of passion, but what I want to ask you is: have you ever had that? If you want to go on with God and go through in a breakthrough way with the Holy Spirit, you need that. Don't let anybody short-change you and think that you can just come laissez-faire and get everything that you need from God without desiring it. It is all free, it's all by grace, but you've got to desire it. God wants to be wanted! 'Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness', Jesus said, 'for they shall be filled. I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. From the time of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force' - it is a prize to be seized, righteous people are pressing through unto these blessings. God says: 'Seek Me, and you will find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart'.
So, are you thirsty? That will mean you desire - what do you desire? What are you thirsty for? What have you got a passion about? Some people have got a passion about church - how could you get a passion about church these days? Seriously, if that's your bar, God help you - passion for church? Now, God loves the church, but I couldn't get a passion for church - it's got to be more than that for me. Or you've got a passion for Calvin, God help you again if you've a passion for Calvin! Or John Wesley, or Arminius - I don't like any of those things in the sense that (you see, they thought I was one of them, and then I shot you down!) - what I'm saying is this: there are people who have got passion for doctrine, they've got passion for practices, they've got passion for persuasions, prejudices, all sorts of things, and do you know what they all are? They are all idols in place of a passion for Jesus! They are, that's what they are! They couldn't have the complete and utter surrender and consecration of their heart to the Lord Jesus, that was too high a cost, so they give way for some kind of system.
Look at Revelation 21 for a moment please, here's desire, and this is wonderful, Revelation 21 and verse 6: 'He said to me, 'It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts'' - to him who thirsts. Look down at chapter 22 verse 1: 'And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb'. If you look down chapter 22 to verse 17, the call goes out: 'And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!'. And let him who hears say, 'Come!'. And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely'. Do you have desire? I know people say, 'Oh, here he goes again, fullness of the Spirit, gifts of the Spirit', well listen: I'm only bringing to you in these meetings and any meetings what I feel the Lord has led me to, alright? Number one, but two: if people that do believe in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit don't talk about them, who is going to talk about them?
There is a deficit of this teaching, correctly, biblically. When you go to 1 Corinthians - you don't have to turn to it, but if you want to, go to 1 Corinthians chapter 12, why not, just to show you I'm not making this up, it is in the Bible. First Corinthians chapter 12 and verse 31: 'But earnestly desire the best gifts', or greater gifts, or better gifts. Earnestly desire greater gifts. Now I hear people say: 'Oh, if God wants to give you a gift of the Spirit, you just passively wait and God will give you it' - that's not what the Bible says: 'Earnestly desire greater gifts'. This was a very charismatic church in Corinth, and there was a lot of disorder and abuse of these gifts, but nevertheless look at what Paul is saying. He's not saying: 'Boys, calm down! Calm down! Get into the word! Forget about all that bubble and squeak, get into the word!'. No, he says: 'Earnestly desire greater gifts'. It's interesting, isn't it? Then you look at chapter 14 verse 1: 'Pursue love', let's not underestimate that, that's greater than every gift, but 'Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy' - there is desire again. Look at verse 39: 'Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues'. Are you getting this? Desire is important, a passion for God's Holy Spirit - do you have it? You need it if you want this experience, from your innermost being flowing living waters!
The second thing you need is: you need direction. Look at what Jesus said in John 7: 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me'. You don't need to go to a church, you don't need to go to a preacher - I'm not saying churches are all wrong and preachers cannot touch you with the power of God, they can at times - but it is Christ who is the One who has this gift. John the Baptist said: 'I baptise you with water, but He who comes after me, I'm not worthy to loose His sandals, He shall baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire' - this is the ministry of the Son of God. So go to Him! Evan Roberts, in the Welsh revival, his famous prayer was: 'Father, send the Holy Spirit for Jesus' sake' - that's good, isn't it? Short and sweet, but it gets to the point, that's the whole core of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament: 'Father, send the Holy Spirit for Jesus' sake', for His glory.
You need direction. Yes, the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, He's not obsessed with Himself - but listen: you can't talk about the Holy Spirit, you can't desire the Holy Spirit, you can't move in the Holy Spirit without talking and teaching about the Holy Spirit! Thirdly: you need desire, you need direction, you need action. Look at what verse 37 says: 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me', that's where a lot of people would leave it, you know, those fatalist people, tread carefully here - those fatalistic ones. 'Oh, God will do it, God is all-powerful, you just wait upon Him and He will do it', but what does it say here? 'Come to Me and drink'. He's not putting an IV line up on us, is He? We have to drink, we have to take of this water freely that He gives. This is not passivity. He does the pouring, but you do the drinking!
Now Ephesians 5:18 is a wee bit different, the fullness of the Spirit, it's a bit different - but the same idea is there. It's in the present continuous tense: 'Be continually being filled by the Holy Spirit'; but It's also in the passive mood which means you're being filled - someone else is doing the filling, but it's emphatic, which means it's a command! That's why people get boggled with this, because it is a wee bit confusing: how can you be commanded to do something that you actually don't do, somebody else does for you? But that's the whole essence of it: it is given by grace and it is received through faith. Maybe some of you have been passive? You need to get up and get at it, and you need to take it by faith. You need to pursue God, you need to have desire, you need to have direction to Jesus. Give Him no rest, and you need to put faith to works, for faith without works is dead - you need to take action. Whatever it means to set aside those other distractions, to put away those other passions, just for a period of time - the legitimate ones, put the sinful ones away forever - but the legitimate ones, just for a period, that you might say: 'Lord, You and You alone, my goal is God Himself!'.
Fourthly, I've already alluded to this: you need faith. Look at the verse: 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He', or she, 'who believes in Me'. You know, don't you, that without faith it is impossible to please God. He that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Whatever is not of faith is sin - that's staggering! Whatever is not of faith is sin. In John 14 verse 12 Jesus said, and this is one the commentators love to fudge - you know what a fudge is, if you follow Ulster politics you'll know what a fudge is! To fudge things, to cover things up, to wipe people's eye, superficiality. I pray for the politicians, don't get me wrong, but it's politics right throughout. It can be business, it can be society, there is a lot of fudging goes on. But listen to this verse, Jesus is speaking: 'Assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father'. Now I've heard all sorts of weird and wonderful ways to fudge that one, but it means what it says. We may not have realised it yet, certainly in the church here we haven't - but it means what it says. But who is the promise to? 'Assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me'. The problem we have today, generally speaking, is: we've got churches filled - and I'm not talking about whether they're Pentecostal, Charismatic, or don't believe in these things, I'm not interested in that just now - we have buildings filled with unbelieving believers across the spectrum! This word 'believe' in the Bible, we interpret it as synonymous with conversion: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved'. Well, I agree with that one, but if you think that every time you read 'believe' in the Gospels it's talking about the night you were converted, you're very, very wrong - because you will not realise the works of Jesus and greater works by just the faith that you get saved by. Mark chapter 16: 'These signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; they will drink deadly poison, and it will not harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will be made whole' - that is believing believers, people who take God at His word and believe Him.
If you want these rivers of living water, you need faith. But I want to ask you here tonight: what have you believed for? What have you believed for? You may have believed to get out of hell and get to heaven; or you may have believed truly because of repentance and remorse for your sin; and you may have believed because you know Jesus deserves your life, for He shed His blood for you. I don't know what you believe for, but I urge you tonight to believe for these rivers of living water and for God's sake don't limit what you believe for! It says of the Israelites in the wilderness, Psalm 78:41: 'Yes, again and again they tempted', the tested, 'the Lord, and limited the Holy One of Israel'.
Some have believed a lie, and I know I believed this lie. I feared the Holy Spirt because of the way I have been taught. I had been taught that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, anything being portrayed as those today was the flesh at best and demonic at worst. But the teaching of Christ, the teaching of our Lord says: 'Any of you having a son, if he asks of you bread, will you give him a stone? If he asks of you a fish, will you give him a snake? If he asks you for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him'. Do you know what that means? If you wouldn't give your child a rock to chew on when he's hungry, or a snake to bite him when he's looking for a bit of food from fish, or a scorpion to sting him when all he wants is an egg; and you're depraved, and you're fallen, and you're sinful like the rest of us - if you wouldn't dream of doing that, do you think God, your Heavenly Father, when you ask Him for the Holy Spirit, is going to give you a demon? If that's what you think, you've got the wrong Father, because that's not my Father.
I'm not saying there aren't counterfeit spirits out there, of course there are - and that's why you have to be careful what authority and covering you're coming under - but there's an awful lot of scaremongering, an awful lot of fear has been spread in the church. It's been said of me as well, and I'm not going to defend myself at all - but people say that about me, would you believe it? 'He works on people's emotions, that fellow, he's got very Pentecostal', that's what they're saying now! 'He's got very Pentecostal'. I don't call myself Pentecostal, I call myself a Christian, a Bible believing Christian. You see, what that means in code language is: 'He's got it wrong, he's gone heretical', because that's what they think, that Pentecost teaching is heretical, that's what they're saying subliminally. If Pentecost is true, I want to be very Pentecostal, because to me that is being very Christian, very empowered by the Holy Spirit. I want everything that God has for me, do you not want that? I'm not taking it from any church, from any denomination, I'm going to Jesus Christ who says: 'If any man believes in Me, as the Scriptures say, out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water'. I don't want to limit God in my life, do you? It says that God limits Himself to our faith or unbelief, did you know that? It says in Mark chapter 6 that when Jesus went into His hometown He could do no mighty work, no miracle there, because of their unbelief. It's not that He couldn't do it, it's that God has set things up so that He does things, He does His miraculous deeds usually in response to our faith. So if the faith isn't there, you can be sure, probably, things are going to happen - that's why we don't see things happening.
Now, I love that verse. I mean, it is actually quite funny: He could do no mighty work there, except lay His hands on a few sick folk and they were made well. Well, I'll have that, thank you! That's what it says, but He couldn't do the big stuff because of their unbelief. You need faith. Look at the response - we're skipping ahead a wee bit here, verse 40 - look at the response to this teaching of Jesus: 'Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, 'Truly this is the Prophet'. Others said, 'This is the Christ'. But some said, 'Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?'. So there was a division among the people because of Him. Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him'. Do you see the response? There was a division because of what He said about the Holy Spirit. Now, they didn't know it was the Holy Spirit, but His teaching caused division. It must be one of the greatest tragedies in the heart of God that the third Person of the blessed Trinity, the One we most need, the Person of the Godhead - not that He is the most important, but the Person in the Godhead who we are to have most direct dealings with to get through to Jesus and the Father - is one of the greatest causes of controversy and division in the church. Is that not one of the greatest coups of the devil?
I know some of the people who believe in the Holy Spirit and His work haven't helped matters, there is no doubt about that - but there were some in the crowd here who got it, they got what He was saying! 'This is the Christ, this is the Anointed of God, He's got the Spirit of God on Him and He can give us these real living waters!'. Then there were others, and what did they do? They used Scripture against Him. They questioned Him. 'Oh, but it doesn't say anything in the Bible about Him coming from Galilee, sure it doesn't? Scripture says He has to come from Bethlehem' - that was ignorance, because He came from Bethlehem, didn't He? They didn't know that, so there was a lot of ignorance. I have shared with people who don't believe in these things scriptures from 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14 and honestly - I'm just being honest before you - I think they've never seen the verses in the Bible. Because if you're told that those are irrelevant for today, you're not going to spend much time on them, are you? But people actually use the Scripture against this teaching, and some even - this is the way the enemy works, OK - look out for this: they try to discredit the messenger to discredit the message. Have you ever seen that happen? They didn't like what He was saying, so they tried to pull the carpet out from under His feet and attacked Him personally: 'He's not the Messiah, sure He doesn't come from the right place'. Maybe that's the way you work, or maybe that's the way you've been taught. Do you know something? We have turned so many scriptures on their head, it is unbelievable. The Protestant crowd can look down their noses at the Catholics: 'Oh, look at what they're doing wrong, they're reinterpreting Scripture, no mediator only Jesus Christ between God and man' - OK, but what scriptures are you twisting, are we twisting, to suit ourselves, to suit our unbelief, to suit our doctrinal deadness? Listen to the scriptures: 'Do not forbid to speak in tongues', 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19, 'Quench not the Spirit, despise not prophesyings' - oh, but 'that's not for today'. Oh, is that right? Can you do that? Can you say 'That's not for today'?
We're meant to quench our thirst, not quench the Spirit. People think you're being really negative and all the rest, I really am trying not to be - but honestly: where would you go today, where would you go to slake your thirst? If you're a child of God of any description, you will have a thirst deep within you. Where would you go? I've got to move on, the fifth thing: you need to appeal to Scripture. You need desire, one; you need direction, two; you need action, three; you need faith, four; and you need to appeal to Scripture. Look at what Jesus says in verse 39: 'As the Scripture says, out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water. This He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified'. He is appealing to Scripture, the Scripture has said, the Scripture has spoken all of this. Jesus said in Acts chapter 1 when those were gathered in the Upper Room: 'The promise you have heard from the Father and from Me'. When you go to Acts chapter 2, that great day of Pentecost, what is it you hear Peter standing and saying? He says: 'This is that which you have heard from the prophet Joel: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy'.
A lot of people were confused, utterly confused, bamboozled by what was going on. Some of them said: 'They're drunk, they're full', that's what they said, because they were so filled with joy. Have you ever been accused of being drunk as a Christian - for the right reasons? Have you? They were accused of it, but Peter knew what was happening: 'This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel'. You need to appeal to Scripture, and listen, if you want it, look at verse 39: 'For the promise', Peter says, 'is to you'. 'Oh, that's the people of the day' - alright, 'To you and your children' - 'Oh, that's their children, and maybe their grandchildren' - 'And to all who are afar off'. That's not people in the North Pole and South Pole, 'to all who are afar off' is a chronological term, 'to all who have not yet come in the future', this promise. 'And to as many as the Lord our God will call' - has He called you? Hello? Has He called you? This promise is to you! Do you believe it? This is what Scripture teaches: 'Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you'.
What are you thirsty for? What are you using Scripture for? Do you know something? Scripture is full of exhortations to seek after God, and seek after more of Him. I'll tell you more than that: the sixth thing you need is experience. Now this is where I really get into trouble here, experience. Look at what Jesus says in John chapter 7: 'He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart', or his innermost being, 'will flow rivers of living water'. Now that's an experience, OK? Rivers of living water, it's an experience. Now when we say 'experience', people think 'Oh', your hair stands on end, you feel like you've been struck with lightning, or you're lying on the floor unconscious - that's not what we're talking about. Now, God can do all that, and I hope you would let Him do it if He wanted to do it, because it would only be for your good - but that's not what we're talking about. Salvation, is it not an experience? Yes, it is, but it's different for different people. Some people have a Damascus Road experience, some people trust Christ very simply as a child - but it's still an experience, isn't it? The fullness, or the baptism, or the anointing, or the unction, or whatever name you want to call it - that is an experience. Yet the teaching that is predominant in conservative evangelicalism today is: don't seek experiences!
Now, I'm going to be stronger than that statement: that is from the pit, because the whole Christian life from start to finish is an experience, it's a love experience, it's a romance, it's a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ, through the personality of the Holy Spirit. Your daily quiet time is meant to be an experience as you talk to God and God talks to you. I've had conveners after meetings stand up and contradict what I've preached, and say to people: 'Don't seek experiences with the Holy Spirit' - that's how ingrained it is within Christendom! Imagine saying to King Solomon: 'Don't seek experiences with the Shulamite', you wouldn't have the Song of Solomon if that was the case. If people didn't have experiences with God, do you know what you wouldn't have? You wouldn't have this book, because that's all this book is, people's experiences with God. On the contrary: everything in the Bible is saying 'Seek after this experience, that out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living water', and that's speaking of this expression of joy at the feast of the Tabernacles. Jesus said to the woman at the well, isn't it interesting, drawing at the well: 'Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give them will never thirst again, but the water that I shall give them will be in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life' - this replenishing flow of the very life of God that actually outflows from you and touches others around you! It's joy, joy!
Do you know what Jesus said? There's so much rubbish talked, you know - He didn't say that, I'm saying that - but there is so much rubbish: 'Don't ask God, don't be asking God for things for yourself'. Now I know we're not to ask for a Ferrari or whatever, I know that. Jesus says: 'Ask that your joy may be full'. Have you ever asked for that? 'Oh, I don't know whether I could ask for that', well, Jesus said you could ask for it. I want to ask for everything He said. 'Up to now you have asked nothing in My name', He said to the disciples, 'but then you will ask, and your joy will be full'.
This is joy, rivers of living water. But quickly, the seventh and last thing is: you need expectation. Yes, you need experience, but you need expectation. Look at what it says in verse 39: 'But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given', the word 'given' is added in our translation, 'the Holy Spirit was not yet', that means the age of the Holy Spirit was not yet, 'because Jesus was not yet glorified'. I've got news for you tonight, guess what: Jesus is glorified. He was glorified at the cross, that's often what John is talking about, not shame but glory; He was glorified when God horizoned Him from the dead, declaring Him to be the Son of God with power; He was glorified when He was exalted to the right hand of the Father, far above all principalities, powers, might, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but that which is to come. All things were put beneath His feet, the highest place that heaven affords is His by sovereign right - He is Lord of All. Because He is glorified, remember what John 14 says, verse 12? 'Most assuredly, I say to you, the works that I do, those who believe in me will do also; and greater works, because I go to My Father'. He has led captivity captive, and He has given gifts to men - and because of that, Pentecost came and the Holy Spirit was poured upon all flesh, and is still being - that's a continuous thing - still being poured out upon all flesh in this day and age.
Do you know what John Owen said? 'The church is stuck somewhere between Calvary and Pentecost' - that was John Owen. The church is stuck somewhere between the cross and Pentecost. Where are you stuck? Jesus said in John 16: 'It's to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go the Comforter will not come'. I used to, as a wee lad, think: 'Wouldn't it be great to live when Jesus was alive, and see the miracles, and walk about and follow Him in the crowd!'. No! No! Jesus said no! 'It's to your advantage if I go away!'.
Are you thirsty? Are you thirsty? Well, if you are, and you put yourself in the right direction, and you take action, and you put faith to work, and you appeal to holy Scripture, and you seek that experience and many experiences - I'm seeking umpteen experiences, I just want them all, every one - and if you have expectation, because Jesus is glorified, that all can be yours, for all is Christ's and Christ is God's: therefore, with joy you will draw water from the wells of Yeshua. He's got it all, all you need. Let's pray.
Now, we're going to take a moment or two, OK? Just take a moment or two in the presence of God, what is God saying to you? What's He saying to you personally? Alan spoke a very very challenging word last night, maybe there are sins that you need to repent of, those secret things, those hidden Achan-type sins. Listen: Alan is right, and you can't reach out one hand to God for blessing and fullness and still hold onto sin with the other hand. But, having said that, if you can get nigh perfect before you are filled, you don't need to be filled - are you with me? - you can do it yourself. So I would encourage you to bring your sin into relationship with God through repentance. Say: 'Lord, this is what I'm struggling with, this is where I'm at'. It's from faith, it's by grace through faith like salvation. Just the way you don't clean yourself up before you come to Jesus, you come just as you are, but there has to be repentance; in the same way, if you want to be filled, there has to be that repentant heart - but don't wait until you have everything sorted. Take it by faith and say: 'Lord, Your word says that this is for me', everything in His word says that. Will you come and say: 'Lord, I ask You, through faith in Jesus, to fill me completely, to immerse me in Your Holy Spirit. Fill me with all the fullness of God'. Just pray to the Lord yourself, confess any sin, surrender yourself and say: 'Lord, here, cleanse me with Your blood, here is an empty vessel, I ask You to fill me'. Cast down every idol - that's for you to do, not the Lord - you cast down every idol, and let Him rule and reign in your life as Lord of all. Ask Him to come and possess His Temple suddenly. Don't be looking for feelings, don't be looking for those subjective things just at the moment: take it by faith, because His word says it, and believe that He hears you. Listen, this is the confidence that we have in Him: if we ask anything according to His word, He hears us; and if we know that He hears us, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. So is this His will? Yes. Are you asking according to His will? Yes. You just believe that He has heard you, just take it by faith, don't be looking for any buzzes or any experiences, take it by faith and then ask God to demonstrate it to you. Just the way you get saved by faith, but you need assurance, don't you? You also need subjective assurance that the Comforter has come. Ask Him to do that, to make you sure.
Maybe you're not saved here, and you haven't understood a word of what I've said, but you know there's something going on. God is here, and you need saved, and you need this power in your life. Well, just repent of your sins. Believe Jesus died for you, ask Him to save you. Come to the foot of the cross and trust Him as your Saviour. Just do that now, say: 'Lord, I'm coming as a sinner, forgive me; save me, because Jesus died for me'.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Loughbrickland Mission Hall in N. Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "Are You Thirsty?" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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