REVIVAL – THE LIVING WATER (3)
Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled Revival – The Living Water (3). Her main text was taken from the Book of John. “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ… Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” … 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 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” (Jn 1:16,17; 4:13,14; 7:37-39)
We shall revisit the subject of Revival. We feel led to pray without ceasing for an extraordinary move of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, homes, in our church and for this land (Warri/ Effurun/ Nigeria). This time we shall seek God for the fullness of the Spirit, described as the Fountain of Living Waters. Our Lord teaches the Samaritan woman the meaning of true worship. We shall learn with her how to be filled with the Holy Spirit, how to worship God and how to participate in revival. Too many Christians are too easily satisfied. When they are saved an ‘amount’ of the Holy Spirit is given to them. This is because without the Holy Spirit you cannot be born again. After that, they are supposed to press on closer to God, to receive the fullness of God’s Spirit. Few do that! Revival is like ‘a fountain of Living Waters that springs up to everlasting life’. This fountain produces a peculiar water. It is the all-satisfying living water. The promise is that ‘you will never thirst again’. The word ‘never’ is categorical and definitive. Few believers press on until they arrive to that place of ‘never thirst again’. We should pay the price to experience the manifestation of this wonderful promise! The manifestation of revival is under the sovereign will of King Grace. May we please Him! Jesus Christ came ‘full of Grace and Truth”. Out of His fulness we have received Grace and more Grace. The word ‘fulness’ means a container filled to the brim. There is no empty space. The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is a manifestation of His fulness, as the Lord of all. It affects every area of our lives. Both is quality and quantity Grace is eternally creative. We need the Holy Spirit to understand and appreciate the Grace of God. Grace is a King helping His humble servants just because He takes pleasure in helping. Because of this fullness of Grace in Christ, we can never lose our salvation! Christ in us the Hope of Glory! Halleluiah!
Too many believers, after they become saved, live a life of spiritual ‘maintenance’. There is no excitement, no bubbling joy of growth and expanding testimony. They live ‘in past glories.’ Like a honeymoon of long ago, almost forgotten, their best has passed. This is the opposite of the true Christian life. God keeps the best for the last (John 2:10). We are going towards the glory ahead! Selah! “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]” (Jn 10:10; AMP). Eternal Life that comes thru Jesus Christ is not just a lengthy life. It has a special quality. It is a living life! It is powerful. It overflows. It is joyful and satisfying. Life in Christ is like food that is more than we can consume. It is water in greater quantity than we can drink, all our lives. It never ends. You will never see the bottom of the bucket filled with the Living Water of Christ. One thing this Living Water cannot do: It cannot disappoint you! The more you drink, the more it fills the soul. The devil is called ‘the thief’. He wants to kill the sheep and steal their pasture. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is the opposite. He cares for the sheep. He finds ‘green pastures’ for them. ‘He leads them beside still waters and He restores their soul’. He prepares for them a table of healthy food. No enemy can stop this holy feast. He anoints the sheep’ head with oil of gladness. He adopts the sheep like they are His own children (Psalm 23). This is just a sample of the promised ‘abundant life’. Grace has the same effect. It overflows! “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Rom 5:20). Revival is always connected with Grace. Revival is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, blessing many believers at the same time. The unbelievers become attracted by this powerful life working in the Christians. The result is that they become converted. Many people look down on the Church. This is because they do not see much difference in behavior between the worldly people and the so-called believers. Once the Holy Spirit convicts the religious people of sin, true repentance and conversion happens. The believers will manifest the fruits of repentance. The world notices that. The Church has authority over the world only when the children of God pay the price for sanctification and the fulness in Christ. Like butterflies come to the light, so the unbelievers are attracted to truth and love, manifested in their fulness, in the lives of the believers. This is a good question: Since you became saved, do you experience this fullness of life? Are you truly filled with the Holy Spirit? Is the fountain of Living Water springing up in your spirit? Is your spirit ‘bubbling’ life toward others? Is your testimony changing others around you? Have you experienced this Niagara Falls-like ‘Glorious Rich Grace’ (Eph 1:6,7)?
HINDRANCES AGAINST REVIVAL, AGAINST RECEIVING THE FULLNESS OF THE SPIRIT (THE LIVING WATER)
1-PrejudiceApart of the prejudice against people of a different race, gender, social status and religious affiliation, man’s greatest prejudice is against Truth. Man is born a sinner. He is born hating God and God’s Word, which is truth. He sees The Lord Jesus Christ as his enemy and the Bible as foolishness. “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14). Our Lord said this about the Holy Spirit: “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (Jn 14:17). The religious unbeliever ‘cannot receive’ the Holy Spirit of Truth. He cannot see Truth and cannot know Truth. He has no option than to lie and deceive continuously. But once a sinner repents, he immediately stops fighting the truth. He now loves God, the name of Jesus, the Bible, prayer, worship, and the fellowship of the brethren. This change is dramatic, and it is a sign of conversion. It is totally the work of the Holy Spirit.
2-The evil spirit of religion The evil spirit of religion is also a great hindrance against revival, or spiritual maturity. There is great difference between an unbeliever and a child of God. There is great difference between a Living Church and a ‘dead’ church. In fact, a ‘dead’ church is an abnormality. What are some of the qualities of a living church? A living local church acknowledges and welcomes the Holy Spirit. The pastor preaches the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ Crucified and Resurrected. Truth has a power no lie can destroy. As the pastor preaches the Truth, in the power and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the congregation is fed with ‘organic spiritual food’. Because of the authority of God’s Word, the congregation remains calm during preaching. Nothing changes the hearts of men except the Word of God that penetrates thru the Holy Spirit! Changes happen in the congregation. These changes lead to revival. The unbelievers repent of sins and eventually become saved. The believers love truth and desire to grow in Grace and in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ! But when the pastor and the leaders grieve the Holy Spirit thru unrepentant sin, the atmosphere of the church changes. The Holy Spirit withdraws from the people. They lose that sense of freedom and joy of salvation. An evil spirit replaces the Holy Spirit. It is a counterfeit ‘holy spirit’. It is called the spirit of religion or the spirit of antichrist! The pastor now preaches stories and not the Word of God. The church now loves ceremonies and religious entertainment. The people think worldly. Sin does not look evil to them anymore. From the leaders to the youngest member of the church, they all follow this evil spirit of religion. They are deceived and they deceive others. They now backslide. Many people join the church who become religious but have no desire to be truly saved. The leaders in the church become ‘famous’ and the congregation worships them. This is a tragedy. The Holy Spirit will intervene and discipline the leaders and the people. The church belongs to Jesus Christ! He died and shed His Blood for the church to be born. The Church is the Bride of Christ. The Bridegroom is jealous and will discipline the wayward Bride. This phenomenon has happened again and again in the history of the church. Revival is the answer to backsliding. We need to do spiritual warfare to keep the doctrine and the behavior pure, to please our Lord! Selah!
The influence of the evil spirit of religion upon a religious unbeliever, or upon a congregation manifests itself in many ways:
*Ignorance of God’s Word and lack of interest in prayer From the discussion of our Lord with the woman at the well, you can see that there are two basic conditions in receiving the Living Water: knowing the Lord Jesus and specific prayer. Our Lord said to the woman: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (Jn 4:10). The woman was ignorant of ‘the Gift of God’ who is our Savior and Lord. Only Him can save a soul. Only Him can give this Living Water called Eternal Life. During the discussion, the woman believed and asked for the Gift. “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw” (Jn 4:15).
What are the lessons? You need to come to Jesus! You need to surrender your life to Jesus, as your Savior and Lord! You need to pray that He will forgive all your sins and fill you with the Holy Spirit! Then you shall indeed know the Gift of God, and His Grace to men! You need to be saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! You need to know and believe the true Gospel. Jesus died and rose again for you! You need to understand the true doctrines of the Bible. Faith in the Word of God is basic to the Christian life. The devil does his best to stop sinners from reading the Bible and praying. When doing evangelism, you need to combine it with spiritual warfare. There is a false Gospel and a false ‘Jesus’. These false doctrines cannot save a sinner. But Truth always prevails!
This is a reminder of the responsibility of the pastor in caring for the flock of Christ. We preach Christ Crucified and Resurrected! This is the only true Gospel who has the power to change men’s hearts! The Gospel reveals to us the need for salvation, the need to be filled with the Holy Spirit! Ignorant of the need, we will not ask for the Living Water! Praise the Lord!
*False brethren The evil spirit of religion produces false brethren. They look and sound like Christians, but they are not saved. They do not produce fruits of repentance. They stand in times of peace and prosperity, but during times of trial, they fall. Their aim in the church is to infiltrate and attack from the inside. They are dangerous because they are hidden among the true believers. False brethren are easily satisfied with a little religion. They do not pay the price for spiritual maturity. They do not offer sacrifices of praise! They are ‘busybodies and spies’ in the church! They are wolves in sheep’ clothes (Mt 7:15). They do not care about Jesus! They only care about themselves. They gossip and create divisions in the church. We are commanded to avoid such people. “We command you, believers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by His authority, that you withdraw and keep away from every brother or sister who leads an undisciplined life and does not live in accordance with the tradition and teaching that you have received from us… Indeed, we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined and inappropriate life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies [meddling in other people’s business]” (2 Thess 3:6;11; AMP). The false brethren infiltrate the church like spies of the devil. They pretend to be Church’ members. They do the things other Christians do and speak the right words. But they are not saved. They do not even desire to be saved. They study the weakness of the church to give information to the devil. They can damage the unity of the Spirit in the Church. They desire positions of leadership in the church. They use manipulation and intimidation so that they take control over the church. They do not submit to the authority in the church, but they compete with the leadership. Apostle Paul recognized them and opposed them. As a Christian, you cannot submit to these agents of darkness. “And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Gal 2:4,5). The solution is to continue to “preach the Word” (2Tim 4:2). Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot quench the light! Amen!*Lukewarm (backsliding) Christians The disciples of Jesus went to buy food. When they returned, they saw Him talking to a Samaritan woman. They were surprised and possibly upset but no one had the courage to rebuke Him for breaking the social rules (Jn 4:27). Our Lord knew that they too are prejudiced against the Samaritan woman. That is why He allowed them to go and buy food in the town, so that He can be alone with her. The disciples (except for Judas) stand for immature or backslidden believers. Later, the Lord teaches them lessons taken from His conversation with the woman. Humankind is divided into two groups: believers and unbelievers. The believers are also divided into two groups: There are ‘baby Christians’ and there are ‘mature Christian’s. All believers go to heaven when they die. But there is a difference between them, in the way they live their lives on earth. The difference is found in this ‘fullness of Living Waters’. The Baby Christian only drinks the milk of the Word. He is ‘carnal, a mere man’. He is not full of the Holy Spirit. The mature Christian has a different ‘diet’. He eats ‘the strong meat’ of God’s Word and is filled with the Living Waters. Apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian believers because they were not willing to pay the price for spiritual maturity. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1Cor 3:1-3). A Christian who is envious on others, who is a fault finder, a troublemaker and who divides people in the church, is surely a victim of the evil spirit of religion. He may be ignorant of the fact that he serves the devil, but this is the truth. He is a backsliding and lukewarm Christian. He causes a lot of harm in the body of Christ. He is in a dangerous position too (Rev 3:14-16). He walks in the same way with the false brethren. That is why we challenge and encourage people to pay the price for spiritual maturity. Listen to me, please… Humble yourself! Study the Word of God! Fast and pray! This is the royal way of the Cross! It is not easy, but it is the only way. There is no short-cut to maturity! Spiritual laziness, refusal to mature spiritually, is one of the greatest hindrances to revival in the church. Our Lord said: “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Mt 12:30). He who ‘gathers’ the harvest with Jesus, will be filled with His Living Water! It is a terrible thing to come to church for nothing. You do not listen to the Word of God. You are passive, sitting in the congregation. That is a waster of opportunities to grow and Grace. You need to repent!
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb 5:12-14). The word ‘unskilled’ means to be ignorant of the basic doctrines of the Gospel. The baby Christian has only a ‘head knowledge’ of the Gospel. He has not learned how to apply it daily in his life. He does not have a personal testimony. He has zeal, sometimes even Bible knowledge, but he lacks wisdom. He is still restless. He is still thirsty. He still needs to draw water daily with the bucket. He is not a teacher yet. “Therefore, with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Is 12:3). A baby Christian has joy, but he labors much to extend his joy to others! A baby Christian who refuses to mature, will surely backslide. He will persecute the mature Christians and ignorantly, will oppose revival in the church! *Religious spirits in the church are witchcraft spirits Apostle Paul said: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?” (Gal 3:1). False prophets, false doctrines, love of money, and religious witchcraft are part of church ‘entertainment’. The evil spirit of religion is one of the greatest enemies to revival. Spiritual warfare is necessary before the Holy Spirit moves freely in the church. The woman at the well is seeking for truth. But she tries to deflect the discussion towards her advantage. She changes the subject easily. She tries to sound smart, intelligent, spiritual. She tries to impress Jesus. But she fails to distract Him. Look how the Lord directs the conversation towards the revelation of Himself so that the woman can be saved. This is how the sinner tries to run from the conviction of the Holy Spirit. This is how we behaved too. Why did we do that? Why do we avoid the questions of our conscience when convicted of sin? This is because nobody loves painful words. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin because we do not believe in Jesus (Jn 16:8,9). We try to be smart. We are skillful in running away from repentance, trying to silence our conscience. We underestimate the power of the Gospel. We deceive ourselves in thinking that we know all the answers and we do not need salvation. Like the woman at the well, she had her own bucket and water. She thought she needed nothing else. The Lord stirs her interest in ‘a better’ water. Her curiosity is aroused by the free offer of Jesus! All her manipulations fail in the presence of Him who alone can save her soul! Lastly, we want to say that except the Lord Jesus Christ thru the Holy Spirit reveals Himself to you, you cannot see Him! Selah!
THE NEED FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Christianity is not just a teaching. It is a way of life. It is a spiritual phenomenon. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for sinners and to save them. He sent the Holy Spirit that bonded all believers into one body. The devil hates God and hates the believers. He tries to destroy the church, but he will always fail. Our Lord said: “on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18).We are soldiers for Christ! “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor 10:3-6). Glory to God!
THIS IS THE MINDSET OF A CHAMPION:
The Olympic champions have something in common. They think in the same way.
1-A champion believes in God and in God’s vision for him
2-A champion is a student, loves to learn. Because of this desire, he remains humble and teachable
3-A champion has mastered his mind. He is bold, focused; not easily distracted. He kills his anxiety and doubts. He remembers the prize ahead
4-A champion has mastered his body. He kills his fleshly desires and lusts. He does not give up until he finishes his race.
5-A champion surrounds himself with others who have a similar mindset (mentors, teachers, pastors…) and avoids losers
RUN THAT YOU MAY OBTAIN IT!
One of the greatest weapons against the discouragement of the devil, is to have ‘a champion mentality’. Athletes train their bodies and also their mind. They need to have a vision of victory before they can be champions. How much more we, the true worshippers of the only Living God! We should have the mind of Christ! By the power of the Holy Spirit, we should kill all fleshly ideas, inferiority complexes, fears, and doubts about the victory our Lord gained at the Cross. The devil has lost forever! In Christ, we go from one triumph to another. For His glory! Apostle Paul said that we are like Olympic Champions. We are runners and boxers. The saints who are in heaven, they watch and encourage us to continue to the end. Apostle Paul said: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore, I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Cor 9:24-27).
*I do not run with uncertainty! The word ‘uncertainty’ means doubt, lacking a purpose, hiding from others, obscure, fearful, shy. Paul says: I run with the assurance of my goal! I run to the end! I do not hide! I run in the light! Dear believer, how can you run if you do not know your lane, you do not know the rules of the game and where the finishing line is? As for me and my household, I will run the Christian race until my last breath! I will see Jesus, face to face! I am sure of that! He is my Reward!
*I do not fight as one beating the air! A boxer may exercise by ‘beating the air’ but once he enters the ring, he must punch the enemy and win the battle! In the boxing world, ‘a perfect punch’ is said to be the punch that takes the opponent by surprise and defeats him. The professional boxers say that it is not so much a matter of strength, but that of wisdom. You need to take advantage of all opportunities, including the weakness of the enemy (the devil). You need to be dead to self and alive only to the Holy Spirit. The Cross is the only sure victory ground! Just like David who knocked down Goliath with a single stone, you can ‘punch the devil in his eyes’ and defeat him! We see that we should run for the medal, for the crown, for the reward in heaven! ‘Run in such a way…’. Stay focused! Encourage yourself and others! Christians are not in competition with one another! They help one another as they run together! You do not win the prize by comparing with others. You must focus on the prize promised to you and not to other runners! The Christian race is not a 100metre dash. It is a marathon. It is 42 Kilometers. Life is long! It is a marathon! Your testimony is a marathon! You should think like that! It is not how well you start but how well you finish it!
Every athlete practice self-control in all things: diet, exercise, and sexual abstinence. There is no success without discipline! You need to take dominion over self! To be champion is not easy! It is Self-mastery! The athlete even abstains from good things if these things hinder him to gain the crown. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Gal 5:23).
Paul is a spiritual champion and mentor to us! He leads by preaching the Word and by personal example! He said: “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Tim 4:16). Let us follow the example of Apostle Paul! He was a man of ‘one thing I do’. Thru the power of the Holy Spirit he was leaning towards the future. You need the Holy Spirit to remain focused and forget the past, with its failures and successes. You need to be excited about the future, the glory ahead. That is having the mind of Christ, the mind of a heavenly champion! Pressing Toward the Goal “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have [d]apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let us, as many as are mature, have this mind” (Phil 3:12-15).
Paul lived with a holy fear. He was not afraid to lose his salvation. But he was afraid to damage his testimony and lose his reward as a servant of Christ! This is a warning especially for the preachers! As a believer, you cannot lose your salvation. But thru sin, you can be disqualified from ministry and lose your reward from God! May God forbid! Say with Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim 4:7, 8 )Finally, let us run the race like Jesus! He is our Best Example, Mentor and Champion forever! It is a race or faith that ends in joy! “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the [a]author and [b]finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1, 2)