John 4:10-15 Jesus answered and said to her, "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." 11 The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 "Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?" 13 Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 "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." 15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."

We are studying the make-up of a local church, and in particular the local church of MBF. To do this we are looking at a number of teachings and illustrations found in the Word of God. At the present time, our attention is on a few of the teachings of Christ in which He gave us insights into the make-up of the church, as well as our present worship and in eternity. To see these teachings, we need the background and context in which they were given. In order to get the background and context, we obviously touch on, and pass over many other subjects. Most of these other subject are really just passed over. As a result, questions concerning these other subjects arise and are often troubling questions. In our last lesson we passed over just such a subject, and several had very similar questions as a result. It is exciting to see that you are consciously thinking through these passages even though we are not teaching on every given subject. These questions are easily answered, but not always understood with the same ease. I will take the first part of this lesson to answer the questions, and then you can begin the process of digesting the answers and working on the understanding of them.

Let me state again my hoped for and desired policy concerning Biblical questions. Please ask them! There are no dumb questions, except those which have been muted because they were never asked. If you have a question, others probably have the same or similar question brought about either by the subject of the text, or more often because of my presentation. It is through your questions I get some direction as to what needs to be taught, and what is not being caught from the current teaching. I will certainly be glad to answer a quick question at the close of the service. However, I don’t want to engage in a lengthy theological discussion at that time. After giving a message, my brain is fried and I just don’t have the go power to properly think through questions with eternal implications. Plus, if I try to answer your question after the service, it will require most of my time, and other people will miss the thrill, and blessing of shaking my hand. You wouldn’t want to deprive others of such a high and holy privilege, would you? Heh! So if you will write out your questions, it:

Last week’s questions were spawned because of the phrase in...

John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 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."

The confusion centers around the phrases “will become” and “springing up”. These seem to indicate a passing of time before receiving this everlasting life. Therefore, it would not be a single transaction as salvation is supposed to be. As the minds of these questioners wandered to other passages referring to everlasting life, the confusion grew. So this answer does not become a separate study all of its own, let’s look at several passages so we can see the problem, and give an explanation, you will need to continue to do comparative studies on these passages. By spending this brief time in this manner, I hope to give you the tools to resolve the questions without diverting us from our subject.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
John 5:24 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
John 6:47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

These, and other passages point out that everlasting life is something we receive, and the only condition for receiving this everlasting life is simple belief in Christ as our Savior. Someone once told me, “Now that’s the Calvinistic way of salvation!” Well, I don’t think Calvin had anything to do with this salvation, except to receive it by faith like any other Believer. However, to listen to some, you would think Calvin invented the whole idea of salvation and eternal life. He was an excellent teacher, and was a student of the Word of God, but we must be careful to keep that fact in mind, and not allow him to become the fourth person in the Trinity. This is not a put down to Calvin. He was a great man of God, but some of his disciples do not measure up to the same standard. Calvin’s standard for teaching was the Word of God. Too many, in this day age, have made Calvin’s writings the standard of their teaching. I doubt if he would be happy with that turn of events.

However, salvation through grace alone is the teaching of the Word of God (which Calvin agreed with), and that salvation or everlasting life comes as a gift from God to us by means of faith and trust in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. There are all those other verses which seem to say something different. There are several verses, when taken by themselves and out of context seem to indicate that you must work in some way for your salvation or eternal life.

John 6:27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.

If we were to take this verse on its own merit without carefully comparing it with the total context, it would seem to indicate that we are to labor to get something, in this case food, which will eventually become everlasting life.

John 4:36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
Galatians 6:8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Once again, here are verses that when seen only from a surface reading without the total context would indicate we are to do something to receive eternal or everlasting life.
John 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. Some would tell us, based on this verse, that we must gain information about God the Father. When we have matured enough in the knowledge of God the Father, we will from that point on have eternal life. If you were to allow some of these folks into your living room, they would tell you over and over again that Christ was a good person and a great prophet. They would go on to tell you that Christ’s only ministry was to reveal the Father, and through that knowledge you will receive eternal life. They can spin quite a tale and build a good case for this teaching if they are allowed to use this verse WITHOUT the total context.

John 12:25 "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

There are those who use this verse along with bits and snatches of other verses to tell you that you have to learn to hate everything about yourself, and totally die to self, your life will be preserved for eternity.

Romans 2:5-10 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds": 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Paul, of all people, seems to tell us in these passages that eternal life is based on what we have done and how we do it.

I can’t emphasize strongly enough, or often enough that we need to know the definitions, how the words are used, the intensity of the passage and how it fits within the immediate context and the total context. To properly answer each false teaching, we would have to study each verse and its context. A journey we will not undertake at this time. The use and intensity are absolutely vital in each of these illustrations. For instance the word or phrase eternal or everlasting life is used as the state of being. This phrase of everlasting life is used in that manner in John 3:16 have everlasting life”. This is a state of being. If a person believes, they are in possession of this thing - everlasting life. John 3:36 is in that same mode “he who believes... has eternal life”. Again in John 5:24 “he who hears My word and believes.... has everlasting life”. Likewise in John 6:47 “he who believes..... has everlasting life”. As used in this way, the phrase would be a state of being. It’s the real thing, or the possessing of the real thing, or reaching out to the real thing, etc. All these are a reference to the item or thing itself in contrast to doing something because of the thing, or doing something that you can only do because you possess the thing, or things that you can enjoy or are available to you only because you possess this thing.

Let me give you an illustration. Remember it is only an illustration. Don’t fall in love with the illustration and miss the truth. A bank account is a state of being, it is the real thing. There are many way of possessing a bank account, so the illustration breaks down at this point. So we can understand it, let’s say that the only way you can have this bank account is by faith in the bank. Don’t get so excited, it’s just an illustration. You have faith, so you now possess a bank account. You have the real thing. You don’t have to do anything more to get it, or keep it.

However, there are many things you can and should do with this bank account after you are in possession of it. None of those things you do with the bank account will change the fact that you have a bank account. None of these things will make the bank account any more of bank account. It is a bank account and you possess it. You didn’t create it. You didn’t do anything to get it. There are many things you can do because you have a bank account. Much of what you do will enhance or make the account more useful and enjoyable, both now and for the length of time you have the account, which in the case of our illustration there is no end to your possession.

Please, I only use this illustration as an illustration, but let me show you some actions you can perform because you have the real thing that will enhance the usefulness, enjoyment and future size of your account. None of these things will give you the real thing, but you can participate in these activities because you already have the real thing. You can make deposits of funds you’ve gained through your own labor or funds that are yours through a gift, etc. Those deposits will cause the account to grow, but those deposits did not cause the bank account to exist. The deposits make the account of greater value to you, but you did not create the fund by this action, nor did your action make it a bank account. You were only able to act in such a manner because you already have or possess the account which your received by faith, as per our illustration. You can do things because you possess the account that will enhance your future. Such as putting money in that account to be saved for future use. That effort, on your part, will certainly make your future brighter, but you couldn’t do any of those things unless you already had the account.

Although this is a flimsy illustration, some facets of it will possibly aid in the understanding of these passages, so hang in there. Eternal life or everlasting life is used as:

A quick look at some of the verses we’ve already covered will help to establish these truths. Almost every time everlasting or eternal life is used, more than one of these five fix points apply. However, one will be more prominent than the others. Sometimes this cannot be established without a thorough study of the complete context. We have already seen that John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 6:47 all have to do with the state of being or the real thing. They also have to do with the quality of that life, but this is secondary.

John 6:27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.

Notice in John 6:27 you are to gather or deposit things to everlasting life. Not to obtain the life, but to put these things into what you already have. You would have to already have the life if you are to gather or deposit non-perishable food within that life. The contrast is: If you, as a farmer, gather things and store them in this physical life, which you already possess, they will perish. However, if you, as a farmer, gather spiritual things and store them in this everlasting life, which you already possess, they will last forever. You don’t or can’t store these things in something you do not already have. The act of storing them does not create the storage area. This act of storing can only uses what already exists.

John 4:36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.

In John 4:36, we are to reap and receive wages because of, or because we have eternal life. If a person came to fix your air conditioner, he would receive wages for air conditioning service. You wouldn’t give wages to the garbage man for air conditioning service. A person must already have the skill of fixing air conditioners to receive wages for such action. If you did not possess eternal life your could not reap or receive these spiritual wages. When we compare Scripture with Scripture, we find that the wages of sin is death. Therefore, there is no way a person could work long enough or hard enough to get eternal life. The sinner’s work would only reap more and more wages of death, not Eternal Life. So from a comparative study, we know that it is a wrong conclusion to say that a person must reap and gather to receive eternal life. Also from a textual study we can see that we are not commanded to work for our salvation. John 4:36 says we are to “reap and gather fruit for eternal life”. That little word for has caused problem in a lot of passages, and it really shouldn’t. It has a definition by demand. In other words, its meaning changes according to how and where it is used in conjunction with the flow of the text around it. That is true in Greek as well as English. Let me illustrate:

Wanted: Jesse James for Bank Robbery

In the rough and ready days of our nation’s development, there were posters similar to this all over the wild west. Now if we were to take the rules of interpretation that some apply to our passage in John 4:36, and apply them to this poster, we would have to conclude that the sheriffs of all those frontier towns were advertising to get Jesse James to come to their little town and do a bank robbery. You say, “Don’t be silly! They wanted Jesse James, for trial and punishment, because he had already committed the bank robbery.” Then, I say to the interpreters of this great spiritual stupidity, we are not to reap and gather to obtain Eternal life. We are to reap and gather because we already have Eternal Life. This reaping and gathering is a privilege only to those who already possess Eternal Life. You can’t do spiritual or eternal deeds until you yourself are in the realm of the spiritual or the eternal. A human, outside of Christ, can only perform physical, human or carnal actions. When that person accepts Christ as Savior, they are placed in Christ. When we are in Christ, we can, through the power of the Holy Spirit, produce spiritual or eternal actions. However, a person who is not in Christ cannot, by human actions, gain a position within the spiritual or eternal realm. Humanity, or physical actions cannot become spiritual by any human activity. Humanity, and physical actions can become spiritual by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

My guess is that just this slight application of intensity, meaning and usage has pretty well cleared up the questions in those verses. We could have looked at each of those verses in greater detail, and the facts would become even clearer. I wish we had time to take each of these passages and make a proper comparative study, but I have given you some tools that, if used, will make your personal study of these passages a rich experience.

Back to our study in:

John 4:15-21 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." 16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." 17 The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' 18 "for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." 19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship." 21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Jesus has shown His interest, love and concern for this human who would be despised and rejected by the normal Jew. Christ has created an interest in spiritual things, and set the course of the conversation that will follow. Even with this high degree of interest by the woman, her thinking is still on temporal things. Before this conversation can be of eternal value to her, she must:

Up to this point, she is comparing what Christ says and does with the standard of what others say and do.

2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

This woman, after poking sarcastic jabs at Christ for not being prepared to draw water from the well, yet offering her water that was far better than well water, comes to the realization that she would really like to have what Christ is offering. However, she still wants the gift of God only for physical reasons.

She wants this water so she will not have to put out the effort to come back to the well. Sounds a lot like us, doesn’t it? It’s all right. Go ahead and admit it’s true in your life. The admission of our condition is the first step in God’s provision. Many of us want this spiritual life so we can benefit from it in a physical manner. In effect we say, “OK God, I’ll go along with this spiritual bit: so my health will.... so my finances will... so my kids will... so my social life will... so I’ll never have to come to this ‘well’ of trouble again” Oh, that smarts when we hit it right on the head, doesn’t it? We have a lot in common with the woman at the well. Yes, our sins are more refined than her sins, but our purpose for our spiritual life is pretty close to the same. True spiritual character demands that our motive be is that we want the spiritual life for the spiritual life itself, not just for the physical benefits that might come along with it.

We need to be brought face to face with ourselves, our motives, and eyeball to eyeball with Christ and His motives. It is a terrible shock when we quit comparing ourselves and actions with others who live in the gutter of life, and start comparing ourselves and actions with our real standard, Christ. Be honest for a moment, and yes, it will hurt to be honest even for a moment. When was the last time you went to prayer just to praise and thank God for Who His is and what He has done. I mean a prayer of longer that 15 seconds? If most of us were honest, we would have to admit that most of our spiritual life is lived with an eye on the benefits physically that might come our way, or the trouble we might miss if we’re being good boys and girls.

We are pretty carnal! No, we aren’t carnal in the same manner as this woman was, but if the truth were known, our life is equally filled with carnal things, instead of spiritual things. If we were put on the scale of carnality, we might even out weigh this woman. This woman had a fair knowledge of some Scripture, and was able to intelligently discuss those issues with Christ. Many of us can’t even discuss Biblical things with our friends and family. This woman could see herself as she was, and realized what the offer of God really was, so, Christ asked her to do something. The doing of this event would not make her better, it would only make her realize how bad she was. Christ said, “Go get your husband, and come back.” Seems like such a small request. As this woman stood in the light of the presence of God’s Son, maybe, for the first time in her life, she wanted to have some moral integrity. So, she answered honestly. “I have no husband.” Christ complimented her on her honesty, and He went on to show that an act of moral correctness could not justify an act of moral incorrectness. “You’re right”, Christ said, “You’ve had five husbands, and the one your are living with now is not your husband.” Not only did this declaration show that Christ was the Messiah, it also allowed this woman to understand that Christ knew all about her, and yet He still loved and cared for her, and His offer was still valid despite her poor moral record.

Wow, what hope! If you are like me, you know of thoughts, actions, attitudes, etc. within the recess of your life and soul that if you were God, you would hold against yourself. If you were God, those things would have to be cleaned up before you would give yourself this living water. Aren’t you glad you’re not God! Hey, God knows all about you, and still loves you. He accepts you where you are, but He doesn’t want you to stay where you are. He wants to elevate you to heights you’ve never even dreamed of. Before any of us can know the fountain of living water, we must honestly face two areas:

No person ever really sees themselves until they see themselves in presence of Christ. Christianity begins with the overwhelming sense and reality of our sin, and the vastness of Christ’s provision. Real Christian living begins with the realization that life, as I am now living it, will not cut it. (Compare Romans 7 to Romans 8)

We can only awake to our ourselves, when we awake to our desperate need of God. We’ll really began living spiritually when, we want God for Who He is, and not for what He can do to make my living easier. It is out of this two sided revelation, of self and of God, that Christ tells us how real worship will or should work now that He has come and the Holy Spirit will be given.

John 4:21-24 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

In that statement we have the very essence of the Church. A fact that we will see up close and personal next week.

As we close this lesson, it would be good to take stock of how and why you worship God. Do you really worship God because He is God, or do you worship Him because you think of Him as a big sugar daddy. Do you have the attitude that if you do all the right things, and make all the right moves, then God will be impressed and open His wallet of physical blessing, and you can just breeze through life? Or do you stand in awe at the greatness of the only wise God, the Great I Am?

John 4:23-24 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998