An Attempt to Kill

Monday, March 23, 2015, 8:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Living Water.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 7:1-39 (Selected vv. ESV).

It Hates Me (vv. 1-9)

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. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

In America, so far, we have not, as the church as a whole, been threatened with the reality of literally losing our lives for our testimonies for Jesus Christ, though that time is most certainly coming. Many of us can see various ways in which a case for such a scenario is presently in the works. This does not mean, nonetheless, that Christians do not face persecution here in America for their faith and testimonies for Jesus Christ. We do, but not yet to the point of death for most of us.

Yet, it is not the casual and worldly Christians, usually, who are the ones being persecuted, but it is “those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” who are facing persecution (See Rev. 12:17; cf. Rev. 2:13; 14:12; 20:4). It is the ones who preach the gospel as taught by Jesus and by his apostles who are being charged with being intolerant, judgmental, legalistic, fanatical, and/or out of touch with reality, etc., and who are most likely being pushed or kicked out of many modern-day church fellowships because they fail to compromise their convictions in order to appease the world.

Jesus said, though, that we would be hated and persecuted as he was for the sake of his name, and for the sake of his gospel message. If we are not offending people with the gospel, then maybe we are not teaching the right gospel, or maybe we are not sharing the gospel at all. If everyone likes us and we have no enemies, or very few, maybe it is because we are not separate from the world, and thus we are not a threat to anyone, and it may be that we have compromised our convictions and have blended in with the world in order to be accepted. Jesus did not call us to be liked and accepted by the world, though. He called us out from the world, and to be holy (unlike the world because becoming like Christ).

The people who wanted to take Jesus’ life, nonetheless, were not the people “out in the world,” per se, but were rather those among the people of God, and among the leadership of the people of God. And, those who persecuted him and who did not believe in him were some of those within his own family, too. So, this was close to home. This is the place where he was to be loved, cared for and cared about by those of his own flesh and blood, and those of his own Father’s household. Yet it was these who were his strongest opponents, and it was these who eventually did put him to death.

And, it may be the same for us. It has been for me. My greatest rejection and persecution has come from within the family of God, not because of some sin in my life, though, but because of my deep convictions of faith and my obedience to my Lord and to the truths of his Holy Word.

A Right Judgment (vv. 20-24)

The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man's whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

One of the reasons the world, and/or the worldly church, will persecute and reject us is because they are judging us by their own human standards, rather than by God’s standards. They will do so, as well, because they are living by worldly standards, and they will think we should join in with them and not be so radical in our faith. They may even try to convince us that their way is the better way, and “Why can’t we be more like them?” Yet, we will stand out like a sore thumb, because we don’t live our lives by worldly standards but by God’s standards, which stand in stark contrast to the world. And, so they may convince others that we, who abide by God’s word, are disunifiers and troublemakers, and that we need to be avoided or cast aside for the sake of “unity” within the body of Christ, but not unity with Christ, but with the world around them.

For the Pharisees, theirs was a legalistic religion based on following a set of external rules, thinking that by following these they would somehow gain salvation. In their attempts to escape legalism today, many modern-day church movements have swung the pendulum the other direction to an adherence to liberalism or to libertinism, yet theirs is still a faith based on man-made rules. It is just a different set of rules. Their rules dictate that you don’t share Christ with people until you have developed a friendship with them over a long period of time. Their rules state that you should not confront a brother or sister in Christ with sin, because that might offend them, and then they won’t want to come back to church. Their rules state that we need to entertain people, and that we need to “stay in our own lane,” so that the world will be comfortable in our meetings. Their religion is still focused on appearance and what is seen of men. So, although they claim to be free, they are not.

Their rules also state that one can come to faith in Jesus Christ by praying a prayer to “receive” Christ, but absent the cross of Christ in their lives. They don’t teach that we must die with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, that we must be changed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and that we must now walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. They don’t teach that true belief is not just a one-time experience, but it is ongoing and continuous, and part of that is the problem with translation from Greek to English, because we don’t have a verb tense which shows continuous action. Yet, we learned in chapter 6 of John that whoever “is believing” in Jesus will never thirst, and that John 3:16 uses the same verb when it says that whoever “believing” in Jesus will not perish, but has everlasting life. They also teach that God requires nothing of us – no obedience, no repentance, no surrender, no death to sin – and that he is pleased with us no matter what we do. These “rules” are of human origin, though, and not of God’s Word.

So, not only is much of today’s modern church hating and rejecting God’s true servants and messengers, who teach the true gospel of salvation, but they are trying to “kill” them and the true gospel of salvation so that the worldly church can remain comfortable in their sin, and so they can continue on in their worldly ways using their worldly methods without interference from those who might try to bring to the light what God’s word really teaches.

If Anyone Thirsts (vv. 37-39)

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. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 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.

Jesus was not speaking here about physical thirst, but about spiritual thirst (or hunger). When God created man and woman and placed them in the Garden of Eden, they were without sin and they had perfect fellowship with God, their creator. Then they sinned against God, and thus all humankind has been under a curse ever since then. We are now born in the image of Adam (1 Co. 15:49), i.e. we are born with sin natures, separate from God, and destined to spend eternity in hell. So, we have a God-void in our lives. Yet, God placed within us the knowledge of him, and he reveals himself to us through his created works (see Ro. 1), so that we are without excuse. Many people try to fill this God-void in their lives, though, with many things other than God, and nothing ever satisfies.

To thirst for God means to desire him and to have a yearning for him as one might feel if he or she was truly physically hungry or thirsty. Jesus was saying that if anyone yearns for God, or to have that God-void filled in their lives, that they should come to him and drink. To drink means to swallow (accept), to take in, receive and/or to partake (participate) in this drink Jesus was offering, i.e. this “living water,” i.e. the Spirit of God. He said whoever “believing” (continuous) in him, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. This “believing” has to do with no longer walking according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, partaking or participating in the Spirit via new life in Christ Jesus, our Lord. This involves death to sin, being born anew of the Spirit of God, and now walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Then, out of our hearts should flow the Spirit of God.

Yet, many of God’s people are trying to “kill” the true gospel of salvation, and the working of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives, and in the church, and have, instead, gone to follow after a gospel of human origin, which is not the gospel at all. And, so God/Christ is calling out to his church to forsake their man-made religion and their idols, for they will never satisfy the thirst of their souls, and he is calling them to return to him as their only Lord, for only in Jesus Christ and in his true gospel can we have our hunger and thirst for God truly satisfied.

Living Water / An Original Work / November 21, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

My people have forsaken Me,
Their Savior, who died on a tree;
Made idols, and they worshipped them;
So empty, they will ne’er fulfill.

Lord, You are the hope of Your chosen ones.
Those who turn away from You will be shamed;
The Spring of Living Water left behind.

Living Water satisfies.

The thirsty, let them come and drink;
Believe in Jesus as their King;
The gift of Jesus given them,
So they will never thirst again.

Indeed, the Living Water flows within.
It springs up like a fountain cleansing sin.
Eternal life in heaven promised them.

Living Water glorifies.

Oh people, won’t you come to Him?
Obey Him and repent of sin.
Let Jesus come and live within.
Surrender all your life to Him.

My people, won’t you turn your hearts to Me?
Forsake your idols and then you’ll be free.
Won’t you come now to Me on bended knee?

Living Water sanctifies.