Sermon 2623. How Faith Comes
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MAY 21, 1899.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, FEBRUARY 2, 1882.
"And many ofthe Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman who testified, He told me all that I everdid. So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they sought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days.And many more believed because of His own word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe not because of your saying: for wehave heard Him ourselves, and know that this is, indeed, the Christ, the Savior of the world." John 4:39-42.
WHEREVER faith exists, it is the gift of God. It is a plant that never sprang up spontaneously from the soil of corrupt humannature. Whether it is little faith or great faith, it is equally of Divine origin, and wherever it is found- whether in thechild of pious parents who was brought up with the utmost care, or in one who has lived all the former part of his life inthe vilest sin-it is equally and alike the fruit of the Spirit and the effect of God's Grace. From this fact I gather greatencouragement because, if it needs Divine power to implant faith in the heart that looks more favorable, it needs no moreto implant and preserve it in the soul that appears most unprepared to receive it. Casting our eyes over the whole map ofPalestine, we might have said that Samaria was probably as unlikely a place as any in the entire country in which we mightexpect to find followers of the Lord Jesus, for, at the very threshold of Christ's announcing Himself, there would be foundthis prejudice, that the Samaritans would not believe in a Jew.
They would not even listen to a Jew, for, while the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans, the Samaritans reciprocatedthe feeling and had no dealings with the Jews. Yet it was among the Samaritans, the members of the mongrel faith into whichJudaism had deteriorated, that Christ was to find a large number of His followers! My Brothers, you will be wise to go, first,to those places where there seems to be least likelihood of conversions. You will often find that God judges not as man judges-"Manlooks on the outward appearance"-but God, who reads the hearts of men, can see a certain readiness where we reckon that thereis the most unreadiness! The Lord knows that the soil where the Seed of the Kingdom is sown may be in the best condition forfruitfulness even when we fancy that it cannot possibly yield us any return for our labor. If faith is the work of God-a supernaturalthing-as it certainly is, what have you and I to do with judging according to natural appearances?
You may go and speak, my Brother, feeble as you feel yourself to be, for the Seed owes very little, indeed, to the hand thatsows it. And you may go, my Brother or my Sister, and scatter this precious Seed upon what you may regard as waste soil, butthe Seed owes very little, after all, to the soil! God can make it spring up like a root out of a dry ground and, as of oldHe brought water out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock, so can He bring a harvest to His Glory where everythingseems utterly barren. If it is God's work, let us have no doubts, much lese any despondencies, concerning it, but let us continueto put ourselves into His hands that He may use us anywhere that He pleases, for we know not where He will most glorify Hisname through our feeble instrumentality.
I am going to talk about faith-faith as it came to these Samaritans. And we shall notice, first, faith's annunciation-"Nowwe believe." Secondly, faith's nativity-where it is born. Thirdly, faith's upbringing-faith's Nazareth- for, according tothe text, it grows and takes higher ground as it develops. "Now we believe, not because of your saying: for we have heardHim ourselves." I give these names to my three divisions in order to assist your memories.
I. First, then, I call your attention to FAITH'S ANNUNCIATION. Here we have it, in the 42nd verse-"we believe."
Genuine faith may, through timidity, be hidden for a little while, or, possibly, the love of carnal ease may lead some toconceal their faith in Christ. But it is of the very nature of faith that it should make its appearance known and felt. AsChrist had what our Church of England friends call His Epiphany, when He was manifested to men, so faith, though it may, fora while, be swaddled and laid in a manger, and kept in a stable, must have its coming out-it must have its manifestation andmen must see it! Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea managed, for three years or so, to conceal their faith to a great degree.Every now and then the light would burn a hole through the bushel, for they could not quite hide the fire that was withinthem, but when Jesus died, then the thoughts of many hearts were revealed and both these men stood out in the clear lightof day as His avowed disciples. They could not help it! The occasion had come when their faith must be manifested and theymust, by their actions, say, "Now we believe." Our Lord has always put, side by side with the faith that saves, the duty ofconfession of that faith. His own words are, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." And Paul, guided by the HolySpirit, wrote, "If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Himfrom the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is madeunto salvation." Christ loves not a tongue-tied faith-He would not have Faith dumb, but would have her speak to the glorifyingof her Lord on whom she depends! So these Samaritans, when they had come to believe in Jesus, must confess their faith andthey did so by saying, "Now we believe."
Possibly, dear Friends, they felt some little difficulty-I suppose that it was but little in their case-in saying, "Now webelieve," because they had previously undergone a period of doubt Evidently these people did not receive the woman's testimony,although others had done so. They listened to it and were sufficiently moved by it to go out and see the Teacher of whom shespoke, but they were not brought to faith by it. Perhaps they even battled with her and raised questions-I will not say quibbles-but,at last, to her great joy, they said to her, "'Now we believe.' We have got out of all the muddle and confusion in which wewere. We have left the darkness, the doubt and the difficulty. And 'now we believe.'"
Are there any of you, dear Friends, who have been amusing yourselves for years with the notion that you were infidels? Haveyou tried to make up, in your own minds, a sort of belief that you were "agnostics"? I think that is the favorite word forthose who are proud of being know as nothings or ignoramuses. Have you tried to bolster up in your mind the idea that youwere something very amazing in the form of a skeptical person-all the while, I doubt not, believing a great deal more thanyou liked to admit-believing and trembling at the same time? But have you played that foolish game out and have you now trulytrusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your own Savior? If so, then do not be ashamed to say, "Now I believe." You may have toeat your own words-well, then, eat them! You may have to be very humble when you meet your old friends-well, then, be humble-therewill be no harm to you in that! And, perhaps, they will bring against you some of your own arguments. Well, it will serveyou right if they do and, besides, it will give you the pleasure of breaking those arguments in pieces and, perhaps, of winningyour friends for Christ, for you have seen those fallacies broken in your own case and you may be the means, in the hand ofGod, of breaking the bow and cutting the spear in sunder in the case of those who have been your fellow doubters!
Do not be ashamed of confessing your past folly. I think a man who says, "I was wrong," really says, in effect, "I am a littlewiser, today, than I was yesterday." But he who never admits that he has made a mistake and who claims that he has alwaysbeen in the right, has evidently never made much growth in knowledge of himself. So, do not be ashamed to say, "Now I believe,"though that confession may have been preceded by many a doubt.
And do not hesitate to say it to the person who has, up to now, been baffled by you. I expect the tears were in that poorwoman's eyes when she said to the men, "You remember what sort of person I used to be, and you see the change that has beenworked in me. You know that I always spoke straight out what I believed, and this blessed Man, who read my very soul, is theChrist! I know He is. Then, why do you not believe what I say about Him?" I should not wonder if she pleaded very hard withthem, and prayed, and entreated them to believe her testimony. And now, at last, when they did believe, it was due to herthat they should cheer her heart by saying, "Now we believe." And, even though they had to add, "not because of your saying,"that qualification would not grieve her. "Oh," she would say, "so long as you believe, I do not mind how you came into thathappy condition! I would have been glad if God had used my saying to bring you to faith, but, inasmuch as He blessed the sayingof the great Preacher, the Lord and Master, Himself, I am the more glad on that account, for He will have all the glory ofit and, so long as you do but believe, you give gladness to my heart."
There are some of you, dear Friends, to whom I have preached in vain for a long while and God knows that when I have beenlaid aside, I have often felt a holy joy in my heart at the thought that the man who has been preaching for me will be blessedby God to some who have never been converted under my ministry. Sometimes, when I have longed to be fishing for souls, butcould not even stand and, therefore, had to lie at home in pain, it has been my hope that some other fisherman would throwthe fly better than I might have done, and that you would take the bait from him, though you have often refused it from me.And when you come forward to join the Church, and say to me, as many have done, "Sir, we believe, but it was through Fullertonand Smith's mission," or, "it was through the teaching in the Sunday school," or, "it was through the agency of someone whospoke to us in the aisle," I am sure that I have been just as glad and happy as if you had told me that it was by my own personaltestimony that you had found the Lord. Glad, indeed, am I to be the instrument of saving souls, but still, if you are saved,the instrumentality by which that blessed result is reached is, after all, a very small matter! But, when you do really believein our Lord Jesus Christ, take care that you tell us, for we have wept over you and prayed for you. And when you are converted,it seems but a fair and honest recompense that you should say to the individual whom God has honored to be your spiritualparent, "Now we believe." By doing so, you will strengthen and encourage him to go on with his work more earnestly than before!Perhaps you will even stave off a heartbreak and make the Christian sower fill his hands the fuller and scatter the seed moredeftly because he knows that he has not labored in vain, nor spent his strength for nothing!
In this annunciation of faith, I want you to observe, also, that it was very speedy. The Lord Jesus Christ was only in thatplace for two days, so that those who said, "Now we believe," must have testified very speedily after they believed. I donot think that it is the duty of people to wait several months before they come forward and confess Christ-it may sometimesbe the wisdom of the officers and members of the Church to say to some persons, "We would like to see a little of your life,that we may judge by your fruit, before we receive you into fellowship." It may even be their dutyto say that, and to keepthem waiting outside the Church for a while to test their genuineness, but it is not the duty of the candidate, himself. Hisbusiness is, as speedily as may be convenient after he has believed in Jesus, to confess his faith and to seek to be baptizedand added to the Church. You do not find Paul waiting several months, after he was converted, before he was baptized. Yousee, in Scripture, no trace of what our old people in the country used to practice, namely, "summering and wintering" converts,to see what they were like before they permitted them to make a confession of their faith in Jesus. No, no-if you have believedin Him, come along with you!
The next step is to say so, and to say it as quickly as you can, "Now we believe." If tonight you are brought to faith inJesus Christ, I would say to you, find some Christian Brother and tell him at once that you have believed in Jesus. When thisprecious child of the Spirit of God, namely, Faith, is born, let it be known to the King's house that it has come! In Heaventhey make such blessed tidings known for, "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents."Though it is but the initial stage of faith, hold not the glad news back from the Church of God, but let it be speedily proclaimed,"Now we believe." What a joyous moment it is when any can say, "Now we believe!" It is the end of suspense-it is the end ofthe kingdom of darkness, it is the end of fear, it is the end of despair-it is the dawn of hope, it is the dawn of Heaven!Oh, what a world of meaning there is in those three words! What glory is opened up to the poor tearful eye by faith! Whatsights are visible when we can say, "Now we believe!"
O my dear Hearers, can you all say, "Now we believe"? If you can do so, truthfully, you can say a greater thing than Ciceroor Demosthenes, with all their eloquence, ever uttered! Have you been seekers for months and years? Have you been tempest-tossedand driven up and down upon the sea of doubt? May you now cast your anchor overboard into the depths of Jehovah's love andwhen you find that it holds, may you cry out, with ecstasy, "Now we believe!" There, then, is the annunciation of faith.
II. Now, very briefly, I want you to look, in the second place, on FAITH'S NATIVITY. How does faith come into men's hearts?
According to the plain teaching of Scripture, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." But faith is not alwayscreated in the human heart by the same form of instrumentality. It is always the fruit of the Spirit of God but it comes indifferent ways. Some of these Samaritans believed because of the saying of the woman and, I suppose that in the ChristianChurch, a very large number derive their faith through the power of God's Spirit, from the personal witness of others whohave been converted. Now look, dear Friends, all of you, at this woman, and be encouraged to use your personal testimony forChrist! She was the spiritual mother of many a Samaritan believer, yet she was a woman of bad character. An ill savor wasabout her name-everybody in Sychar must have looked upon her as a dangerous person of fickle love and of foul ways-and yet,after she had found Christ, she did not hesitate to tell her neighbors about Him-and God did not refuse to bless her testimony!I believe that there are thousands of persons whom no man would ordain, but who are ordained of God, for all that-and thereare many whom we would say that the Church could not employ, whom the great Head of the Church employs, and employs grandly,too! What if you have been converted from great sin? Be careful and watchful that you sin no more, lest a worse thing comeunto you, but let not shame with regard to the past make you ashamed to confess the Christ of the present, and to acknowledgethat He has worked a great work upon you! Here was a poor fallen woman and yet, after her conversion, she became a missionaryof Christ to the city of Sychar! She was, altogether, quite an unofficial person. She does not appear to have been calleda sister of mercy, or to have put on any peculiar garb, but she ran straightway to the people with whom she had lived and,perhaps, to the very men with whom she had sinned! She went to tell the story that Christ had come to her and had given toher that Living Water, of which, if a man shall drink, he shall never thirst again! Well, Believer, if no man sends you, goall the same, for Godsends you! Perhaps no man has laid his hands upon you, but of what use is the laying on of hands? Fulloften I fear it is only empty hands laid on empty heads-so, if no man has laid his hands on you, go without the laying onof hands, in the name of Him who has laid His pierced hands upon you and said to you, "Fear not, for I am with you: be notdismayed, for I am your God: I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of Myrighteousness."
If you ask, "What shall my message be?" let your message be your own personal testimony-what you have, yourself, seen, heard,tasted, handled and felt of the good Word of God. I do not suppose that this woman arranged her discourse under three heads,or that she had an introduction and a conclusion and all that, but she just went to the men of the city and said, "Come seea Man who told me all things that I ever did-is not this the Christ?" That was her little sermon and as often as she repeatedit over and over again, she spoke out and bore her personal testimony-and so she brought the men of Sychar to Christ. "Gohome," said Christ to one whom He had healed, "go home to your friends and tell them how great things the Lord has done foryou, and has had compassion on you." It is amazing how attractive a personal narrative is! If you begin to explain to somepeople the doctrines of the Gospel, your audience will diminish one by one. But tell them your own experience of the powerof Christ and they will listen as listened the wedding guest when "the ancient mariner" laid his hand upon him, detained himand told him that strange legend of the sea! You will have attentive hearers when you speak about your own dealings with Christ,the wonders that Christ has worked in you and for you, and of which you can testify because they are your own experience!That is, in many a case, the nativity of faith. The mother tells her child, the husband tells his wife, the brother tellshis sister and, more often, still, the sister tells her brother. One man communicates it to his co-workers-a gentleman speaksof it in the drawing room to those of his own class-and so faith is born in other hearts as the result of the personal testimonyof Believers!
But, dear Friends, there are some persons who do not seem as if they would ever be converted by that means. Personal testimonyevidently fails with them as it did with some of these Samaritans. What, then, remains? Why, it will suffice if personal testimonyleads the way and excites attention to the subject! Then, if the man is wise, he asks for time and thought-and our Lord Jesusis always ready to attend to those who are anxious about spiritual matters, but are not quick to believe. Two days did Heremain in Sychar and those unbelievers who were candid sat at His feet and heard Him through the two days. Now, what did Jesuspreach during those two days? Turn to your New Testaments and find the sermon. Even though you look very carefully, you willnot discover it, for it is not there! And it is a very curious thing that when the woman preached, we have notes of her sermon,but when Christ preached, we are not told what He said. Very remarkable is it that, frequently, we have those discourses ofChrist which did not convert anybody and we have not those discourses which didconvert people! Why is that? I suppose thatthe Holy Spirit gives us the discourses which were rejected in order to let us see that there was no fault in the sermon,but that the fault was in the people. But as for those that were received, He simply tells us the result and does not statethe particular form of the discourse. I would infinitely rather preach sermons that win souls and are then forgotten, thango on preaching and having my discourses printed from week to week, and hear of no results! Happily, I have not to chooseeither alternative, but these people who were not persuaded to believe by the witness of the woman, were converted throughhearing Christ, Himself.
"Well," says one, "but we cannot personally come to Christ right now." No, I know that you cannot, but you can do what isvery much like it. I recommend every man who finds faith to be a difficult thing, to carefully read through the four Gospels,asking the Holy Spirit to enable him to believe what is recorded and revealed there. I usually find that the greatest doubtersare the people who do not read the Bible. Holy Scripture has within itself a mighty convincing power-and when men lie soakingin it, it soon penetrates into their very souls! A man says, "I cannot believe," and yet he does not read or hear about thevery thing that is to be believed! He keeps out of the way of it and yet says, "I cannot believe it." If there is somethingin the newspaper today, about which you felt compelled to say, "Other people seem to believe it, but, somehow, I am unableto do so-I would be very glad to believe it, but I cannot"-what would you do? You would read the statement again! You wouldrefer to any other account that would be likely to confirm it. You would candidly examine the whole affair to see whetherit was true or not. Yet how few-how very, very few have thus come to Holy Scripture, itself, and virtually listened to Jesus,Himself, and then have gone away and still said, "We do not believe." Unless they are really given up to hardness of heart,the result, in every case, seems to be that when they search the Scriptures, and seek to know what Christ did and said, theyare soon subdued by His sweet power and are found sitting at His feet, believing in His name! If anybody has not done thisand yet remains an unbeliever, I charge his unbelief upon himself as his own fault and sin. If I will not examine the evidence,I am to blame if I do not believe the
Truth of God!
Do you ask, "What evidence shall I examine?" I say again, examine the documents themselves! Let Christ speak for Himself."Had I not better read a, 'Life of Christ'?" Listen, there is no, "Life of Christ," extant but the one written by the fourEvangelists. All the attempts that have been made at lives of Christ, whatever value they may have, are not biographies ofChrist! They are somebody's idea of what He may have been. We need no other, "Life of Christ," than the fourfold one givento us in the Gospels! Those Inspired Evangelists have told us all we ought to wish to know. And if you read those Books-notmen's books which have been written upon those Books-I believe that through the blessing of God the Holy Spirit, you willyet be able to say, with these Samaritans, "Now we believe." God grant that it may be so! It is in this way that faith isoften born. Holy Scripture is the Bethlehem of faith! There is this blessed Child brought forth and happy are they who takeit, and nurse it, that it may grow.
III. This is our last point, FAITH'S UPBRINGING, or, as I called it, "faith's Nazareth."
It is possible that there were some of the Samaritans who believed and who, when they said to the woman, "Now we believe,not because of your saying, for we have heard Him ourselves," meant that they did, at first, believe because of the woman'ssaying, but, after a while, they outgrew that first stage of faith and they came to believe in Jesus still more strongly becausethey had heard Him themselves.
This was a higher form of faith. The beginnings of faith are as a spider's web. It would be difficult to say how little athing faith may be at first. I doubt not that many believe the Bible because they were always taught by their parents thatit is the Word of God-although they have never thoroughly examined that question for themselves. Some have believed the Truthof God, at first, because their minister preached it. Well, I would not discourage even that form of faith, for it may belike a very tiny thread which may be fastened to a string-and the string may be tied to a rope and the rope be attached toa cable-and, at last, the shipwrecked mariner may thus be saved from drowning! Anything that links men to Christ may, nevertheless,be overruled of God to their salvation. When that woman said, concerning our Lord, "If I may but touch His clothes, I shallbe made whole," I fear that there was some superstition in the notion, but, nevertheless, Christ overlooked that and, seeingthe real faith that lay hidden underneath, took care that it should live. Do not discourage anything that tends towards faithin Christ, but it is a grand thing when men grow, by God's Grace, till they can say, "Now I do not believe simply becauseof what my dear mother taught me. I do not believe merely because of what my minister preached. I do not believe because ofany human being at all, but I believe because I have heard Christ for myself, I have had personal dealings with Him and, now,'I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.'"
The faith that sprang from Christ's own testimony would also be much more vivid faith. The other day there was a meeting heldto protest against the barbarities indicted on our Jewish brethren. All the speakers spoke very strongly, but if any one ofyou had seen what has been done and had come fresh from the deeds of blood, I guarantee that you would have spoken very intensely,indeed. Your indignation would have flamed fiercely if you had seen the homes of the people burned down and men murdered andwomen ravished, for the sight of the cruelties and abominations would have affected you far more than merely hearing aboutthem! So, when Faith gets to deal with Christ for herself-when she sees sin forgiven-when she feels the weight taken fromher troubles-when she realizes the great possessions of joy which Christ has given to her-to her, herself-then she becomesmuch more vivid and truly living than the faith that rests simply upon the testimony of others!
And, Beloved, as our faith becomes more vivid, so, also, it becomes more independent. We need more independent Christian peoplein the present day! I hope that we are growing a race of them, here, and I pray that we may grow far more of them. I haveseen young people and, for all that matter, old people, too, behave excellently and seem to be admirable Christians whilethey have lived here in the midst of other warm-hearted Believers. But they have gone down into the country to live and ithas been very grievous to see how cold-hearted they have become-how some of them have even, at last, forsaken the assembliesof God's House and, if they have not utterly turned aside, yet they have been very different from their former selves! Beloved,if you have seen Christ and are truly one with Him, you will live with Him when all Christian association is withdrawn! Lookat many of the houses in our London streets. If a giant were to pull one of them out of the middle of the row, they wouldall come tumbling down! They only stand because they lean on one another. But Christians should be detached houses-no, semi-detached-forthey must be attached to Christ-but they ought to stand alone, apart from men, because of their living faith in Him!
This kind of faith has grown beyond that which was at first exercised and it has become broader. If you will kindly look atthe chapter, you will notice that all the woman could tell the men was this, "Come, see a Man who told me all things thatI ever did-is not this the Christ?" But these men had learned more than that, for they had listened to Jesus Himself! Theywondered, at first, that He, being a Jew, should care for them. But, by-and-by, it darted into their mind that He had notcome to be the Savior of Jews, alone, so they said, "We have heard Him, ourselves, and know that this is, indeed, the Christ,the Savior of the world." Oh, that was grand, broad faith, when they saw that this Christ was not the Jews' Christ alone,but the Christ of the Samaritans-the Christ of the Gentiles, too-the Savior of sinners all over the world! May your faithand mine, dear Friends, grow broad! May we believe for others! May we hope for others! May we expect to see God's salvationextending even unto the ends of the earth and, moved by this faith, may we be stirred up to go out and find the lost sheep,that we may bring them to the Great Shepherd, that He may fold them in safety by His tender care! Let us be so much with Christthat we may catch His spirit, and that our faith may grow exceedingly, and our love to all the saints be increased!
The Lord give His blessing, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JOHN4:1-42.
Verses 1-6. When, therefore, the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,(though Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again into Galilee. And He must needs gothrough Samaria. Then came He to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave tohis son, Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus, therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well: and itwas about the sixth hour Do not be surprised, dear Brothers and Sisters, if you sometimes grow weary in the Lord's work. Itrust that, even then, you will not be weary of it, but that you will believe that your blessed Master can still use evenHis tired servants and bless their labors. The Lord Jesus Christ worked great marvels even when He sat wearily on the brinkof Jacob's well-and you, perhaps, are at this moment as fatigued and worn as you well can be-yet, will you not awaken allthe energies of your soul if you should see an opportunity of doing good, even if it should be to some poor fallen woman,as in the case here mentioned? It is a blessed thing never to be too tired to pray and to never be too tired to speak to ananxious enquirer!
7. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water Providence was at work so that when Christ reached the well, this woman wason her way there. It was very late in the day for anyone to go to draw water, but, probably, the other women, who went tothe well early in the morning, were not willing to associate with her, so she had to go by herself. Late as she was, however,she was all in good time, for she reached the spot just when Christ was waiting to bless her!
7, 8. Jesus said unto her, Give Me to drink (For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat). Or else they mighthave drawn water from the well to refresh Him.
9, 10. Then said the woman of Samaria to Him, How is it that You, being a Jew, asks drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If you knew the gift of God, and Whoit is that says to you, Give Me to drink; you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water. See the deadlymischief of ignorance concerning spiritual things? If she had known, she would have asked, and Christ would have given! Butthe first link was missing and, therefore, the rest of the chain was not drawn on. Sometimes all that people need is a littlewise instruction and they will then trust the Savior. God grant that we may always be ready to give it! Alas, there are somewho need much more than that, but Christ could truly say to this Samaritan woman, "If you had known, you would have asked,and I would have given." O dear Hearers, do not perish through ignorance! You have your Bibles-then, search them! You havea Gospel ministry among you-take care that you give diligent heed to what you hear from the servants of the Lord!
11. The woman said unto Him, Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from where, then, have You that livingwater?Christ told the woman that He could give her living water, but it puzzled her to know how He could get at it. The wellwhere they had met was deep and He had nothing to draw the water out of it-how, then, could He go still deeper to get theliving water of which He had spoken? She could not understand His simile and, to this day, it is the same with many of ourHearers. The simplest language of God's ministers goes right over the heads of the people. They take our words literally whenthey ought to see that they are spiritual and, on the other hand, I have known them spirit them away when they ought to beaccepted literally. Such is the perversity of man's mind that, often, he will not understand the Truth of God.
12-14. Are You greater than our father, Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself and his children, and his cattle?Jesus answered and said unto her, Whoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: but whoever drinks of the water that Ishall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlastinglife. These words set forth the wonderful nature of Divine Grace! They greatly err who suppose that we can receive it andyet, after all, be left to perish without it! No, but when it is once imparted to us, it continues to spring up within uslike a well that never runs dry! It is the living and incorruptible seed, "which lives and abides forever." It is of the verynature and essence of the Grace of God that it is indestructible-it cannot be taken away from the heart in which it has beenimplanted by the Holy Spirit!
15, The woman said unto Him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come here to draw. This was an ignorant prayeron the part of the woman, but it is one which I would commend to every enlightened soul-"Sir, give me this water." Do youwant a form of prayer? Here is one for you! "Sir," Lord-"give me this water." The Lord is ready to hear that petition andto give this precious living water even now.
16, 17. Jesus said unto her, Go, call your husband and come here. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. The LordJesus knew all about her character and here He touched the weakest point in it. His plainest teaching had so far missed themark, for He had not reached her conscience-but He was about to do so.
17, 18. Jesus said unto her, You have weel said, Ihave no husband: for you have had five husbands; and he whom you now haveis not your husband: in that said you truly. You can imagine her astonishment-her blank amazement as the secret story of herlife was thus repeated to her!
19. The woman said unto Him, Sir, I perceive that You are a Prophet I t would have been a sign of better things if she hadsaid, "Lord, I perceive that I am a sinner," but that confession had to be made a little farther on. How apt people are ratherto think about the preacher than about themselves! If half the criticisms which are passed upon ministers of Christ were bestowedupon the hearers, themselves, how much sooner they might receive the blessing they need! The woman then asked our Lord a questionabout religion which was strangely out of place from such a woman as she. Yet, often, those who have least morality will havethe most ceremonialism and concern about the externalsof worship!
20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain. This Mount Gerizim-
20. And You say that in Jerusalem is theplace where men ought to worship. This she thought was a very important matter.
21. Jesus said unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour comes when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem,worship the Father ' 'There shall be an abolition of all specially-holy shrines, for all places shall be, alike, holy. Thereshall be a putting an end to all your traditions and your forms of worship, for God shall be worshipped after another fashionthan that which is merely formal and superficial."
22-26. You worship what you do not know: we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour comes and nowis, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship Him. Godis a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. The woman said unto Him, I know that Messiahcomes, who is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things. Jesus said unto her, I that speak unto you am He.That majestic word of Christ carried conviction with it-the woman believed it then and there!
27, 28. And upon this came His disciples, and marveled that He talked with the woman: yet no man said, What do You seek? or,Why do You talk with her? The woman then left her water pot She was too glad, too happy to recollect so poor a thing as awater pot! It was much to her before, but very little now. As one who finds a precious pearl forgets some trifle that he carriedin his hands, so she "left her water pot."
28, 29. And went her way into the city, and said to the men, Come, see a Man, who told me all things that I ever did-is notthis the Christ?Her notion was that when Christ came, He would tell all things. Here was a Man who revealed her innermostsecrets-was not He the Christ?
30-32. Then they went out of the city and came unto Him. In the meantime, His disciples urged Him, saying, Master, eat ButHe said unto them, I have meat to eat that you know not of O Beloved, there is a wonderful fascination about the blessed workof soul-seeking! When one is really anxious to bring a sinner to the Savior, eating and drinking are often forgotten! As thehunter of the chamois, in the heat of the chase leaps from crag to crag, and is oblivious of danger, and forgets all aboutthe time for his meals, so he that hunts after a precious soul, to win it for Christ, forgets everything else! He is altogetherabsorbed in this holy pursuit-the Master was more absorbed in it than any of us are ever likely to be.
33-35. Therefore said the disciples, one to another, Has any man brought Him anything to eat? Jesus said unto them, My meatis to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work Say not you, There are yet four months, and then comes harvest?Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes and look on the fields for they are white, already, to harvest. That was probablyan old Oriental proverb, used by lazy men who never thought it time to get to work, but Jesus said, "Do not use the idler'slanguage any longer. Now, at once, there is work for you to do."
36-42. And he that reaps receives wages, andgathers fruit unto life eternal: that both he that sows andhe that reaps may rejoicetogether And herein is that saying true, One sows, and another reaps. I sent you to reap that whereon you bestowed no labor:other men labored and you are entered into their labors. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the sayingof the woman, which testified, He told me all that I ever did. So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Himthat He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days. And many more believed because of His own word and said unto thewoman, Now we believe, not because of your saying: for we have heard Him, ourselves, and know that this is, indeed, the Christ,the Savior of the world. The Lord bring us all to trust in Him for His dear name's sake! Amen.