“The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” – Revelation 22:17
The theme of our recent FWCC conference keeps coursing through my thoughts and reminding me of the need to let people know its thrilling call: “Let the living waters flow!” In his wonderful message, our final speaker, Kelly Kellum, reached all the way back to Genesis 2:10 where we read, “Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.” This one great river nourished the whole Garden of Eden and went out from there to water the world. So right in the beginning, a river was at the heart of Paradise and, sure enough, at the end of time we find that river again: “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2)
The truth is, people are indeed thirsty. As I write these words, the skies have opened up and the rain is falling – thank God! But we know that here in California we are still far behind in our rainfall and snow pack totals. As great as our literal drought is in California there is a much greater drought, one that encompasses the whole world. That drought is for the living waters. This is not because there is a lack of supply – far from it! God has provided for all a limitless stream of the waters of life. Christ put in the plumbing to this endless supply through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. It was as if each of us had a mountain of sin separating us from the River of living waters. Christ, by offering up His body and soul on the cross, removed that mountain of sin and laid in the pipes from the River right to our hearts. What remains between us and quenching our spiritual thirst is turning on the tap! But we don’t do it. Why is that?
Unbelief is the reason. It takes faith to turn on the tap to the waters of life. But if we refuse to believe the waters are there or that Christ made them available to us, we will not turn to Him for their supply. We treat it as a fairy-tale or an ancient myth in which our gullible ancestors could indulge but which we modern, scientific and educated people cannot treat seriously. Our substitute for the waters of life will then be anything man can contrive, be it money, entertainment, pleasure, power or worldly recognition. At the root of unbelief is pride, a form of selfishness. We like to think that we are so clever we can work it all out with our puny minds. But how can that be? We know infinitely less than what we would need to know to answer the most important and basic questions, such as, what is reality? Where do all things come from? Why do we exist? What are we, as humans? What is our destiny? What is our duty? These are questions we cannot avoid. We must act as though some answer to them is true. But how can we know the truth unless a Mind that is infinite and knows all things tells us?
That brings us to the second reason people do not “turn on the tap” to drink of the living waters Christ provides. While some think that “science” or mere “common sense” tell us where to go to satisfy our spiritual thirst, others realize that we indeed lack the capacity on our own to quench the thirst of our souls. For that reason they seek it from spiritual sources that are not, sadly, able to meet the need. Yes, these sources claim to tap into the spiritual realm but they are not from God. As the Bible says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) The Bible agrees that the spiritual realm is quite crowded with beings who offer us ways to quench our spiritual thirst but they are inadequate at best and destructive at worst. I once followed one of these false prophets and I was indeed given a substitute for the living waters. But when I began sincerely to consider Christ and the credentials which He offered, I realized that I had been drinking from a sandy mirage, not the fountain of living waters. Nor did I have to spend years in “meditation” or yoga or many lifetimes of reincarnation to work off karmic debt. All that had to be done had been done by Christ. He had paid the real debt I owed, my debt to the Law of God because of sin. The only thing left for me to do was to turn on the tap of faith, faith in Christ, and the living waters to quench my deepest thirst flowed in abundance. As that wonderful hymn says,
“’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise; just to know ‘Thus saith the Lord.
'O how sweet to trust in Jesus, just to trust His cleansing blood;
Just in simple faith to plunge me ‘neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, ‘tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking, life and rest and joy and peace.”
You may think, “That sounds too easy” and perhaps my metaphors have tended to trivialize the transaction, for it is the profoundest change anyone can undergo, this turning from doubt to trust, from self to the Savior, from idols to Christ. It is a simple change, but often not an easy one. And, sad to say, the soul thereafter may often slink back to seek a drop of water in those “cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). Such is the power of old habits, the weakness of the flesh and the cunning of our enemy, but even so, it all turns on faith – not the amount of it, mind you, but the blessed Object of it. If we let our eyes stray from Christ, we will be led away from the living waters He provides. How quickly we forget the emptiness of those dry wells! But then we suddenly remember – “I know where peace flows like a river, joy bubbles up like a fountain and love rolls like a mighty ocean!” Then we hurry back to Jesus, beg His pardon and, with no recriminations, He restores them to us. So, if you have never tasted the sweet waters of salvation, “The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come’. And if you have tasted but you became distracted and the connection of faith was broken, “let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Revelation 22:17)