John 3:3-6 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
John 3:7-8 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
John 4:7-9 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
John 4:10-12 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
John 4:13-14 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Focus Verse John 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
Focus Thought When we receive God’s gift, the Holy Spirit, we receive the nature and Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Introduction It is a simple yet amazing truth that God is a giver! Inherent in His nature is God’s love for us and His desire to bless our lives. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (II Peter 1:3). This aspect of God is the very foundation for our relationship with Him.
Introduction Among the most beloved words of Scripture are these: “For God so loved the world, that he gave” (John 3:16). His love for us became the impetus for the openhanded nature from which we benefit so greatly. God is a giver!
Introduction We who have tasted God’s grace know by experience His readiness to give. He gives joy, peace, and salvation. He gives healing, deliverance, and direction. The list is virtually endless. But among the gifts that God lavishes on His children is one that stands alone in its significance. The greatest gift of God is the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Introduction In today’s lesson, we will examine God’s giving nature by viewing His interaction with two needy people. We will examine what was promised to each of them, and by extension to us, as well as the nature of our responsibility when His gift comes. As we are blessed of God with the infilling of His Spirit, we become accountable to be governed by that Spirit.
Introduction Further, Jesus calls us to be worshipers, and He clearly specifies how that is to be done. As we give ourselves to worship, we show proper gratitude for the gift of His Spirit in our lives. However, we do not worship God as payment for His marvelous gift, for then it would be a purchase. God is not a merchant; He is a giver!
I. The Giver Meets... Man (A) The Giver Meets an Unborn Man The concept of an “unborn man” seems like an impossible description. How could a grown person never have been born? His very existence speaks to the fact that he can point to the day of his birth. Still, one of the most important dialogues in which Jesus ever engaged was with just such a man—one who had yet to be born in the most important sense.
I. The Giver Meets... Man (A) The man’s name was Nicodemus, and he was a significant man in first-century Jerusalem. As a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, Nicodemus enjoyed wealth, influence, and notoriety rarely seen among the Jewish people of his day. His high rank afforded him privileges and status among the people, but it also placed certain social and religious pressures on him when it came to dealing with Jesus Christ.
I. The Giver Meets... Man (A) Accordingly, Nicodemus came by night to this new teacher from Galilee called Jesus, apparently to avoid public attention. His approach was respectful, for even he could recognize that there was something special about Jesus. His respect was evident in His first words to the Lord (John 3:2).
I. The Giver Meets... Man (A) As a member of the ruling class, Nicodemus probably expected Jesus to reciprocate with a similar measure of respect. Surely this young teacher from Nazareth would recognize the importance of a visit from a member of the Sanhedrin. Jesus was not disrespectful at all, but neither did He refrain from boldly and bluntly communicating to Nicodemus his spiritual deficit. Jesus did not see a man who was the envy of Jewish society, but a man who had yet to be born again.
I. The Giver Meets... Man (A) A.The Need for a New Birth of Water and Spirit As one studies the interactions of the Lord with people whom He encountered during His earthly ministry, it is striking how often He cut right to the heart of the matter with few or no preliminary comments. The eternal significance of His words rendered small talk rather meaningless and seemed to compel Him to drive right for the heart of a person.
I. The Giver Meets... Man (A) Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus was no exception. He responded to Nicodemus’s opening compliment: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Here was the crux of the matter! Nicodemus was missing the most important element of His life—he was unborn in the fashion that really mattered. He had never been born again!
I. The Giver Meets... Man (A) We should note that this remains the central issue in the lives of men and women today. Many pursuits that people follow seem important at the moment, only to fade into insignificance over time. Accomplishments, accolades, and awards might be enjoyable for a season, but they provide no eternal value. The only question that really matters is, have we been born again?
I. The Giver Meets... Man (A) Nicodemus reacted with understandable confusion to Jesus’ admonition to be “born again.” This is a common phrase in our culture, but it was unheard of in his. He questioned, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4).
I. The Giver Meets... Man (A) Jesus did not leave him in confusion but clearly explained: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:5-7).
I. The Giver Meets... Man (A) Jesus’ words clearly convey the imperative nature of the new birth. For one who has never experienced the new birth, there is no entry into the kingdom of God—not even a glimpse of it. There is no other option if one is to be redeemed.
I. The Giver Meets... Man (A) The miraculous new-birth experience involves repentance of sins, being baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and receiving the Holy Ghost. This is the work of our generous God. He gives remission of sins, and He gives the Holy Spirit. He gives new birth to the spiritually unborn!
I. The Giver Meets... Man (B) B.The Analogy of the Wind The Lord often reached into the common experiences of life for analogies from which He could teach spiritual truths. In this instance, Jesus offered a word picture to help Nicodemus grasp the concept of the new birth. He likened the work of the Spirit to the blowing of the wind.
I. The Giver Meets... Man (B) “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
I. The Giver Meets... Man (B) Jesus first explained that man does not control the wind; it blows where it will. In that way, it is like the work of the Holy Spirit of God. We do not order or control the moving of God’s Spirit, but we are the recipients of God’s gracious giving. God is sovereign, and His Spirit “blows” wherever He wills.
I. The Giver Meets... Man (B) Jesus further explained that while we do not control the moving of His Spirit, we can recognize the signs of His moving. A person can hear the sound of the wind moving through the trees, and we can see the effects of God’s Spirit as it moves upon individuals and their circumstances. Evidences of the moving Spirit of God are manifold, but the most notable one is the initial proof of a person’s receiving the Holy Ghost— speaking with other tongues as God’s Spirit provides the utterance.
I. The Giver Meets... Man (B) Speaking with other tongues is the consistent proof of the infilling of the Holy Ghost throughout the Book of Acts. It is clearly described as the evidence of God’s Spirit in Acts 10. As Peter was preaching to the first Gentile congregation gathered at Cornelius’s house, the Holy Ghost fell on all those who heard him. In spite of religious or societal prejudices, the “wind blew” where it desired. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed because they saw the evidence of the Spirit’s work.
Acts 10:45-46 “And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:45-46).
I. The Giver Meets... Man (B) Finally, Jesus explained that there always will be some aspects of the ways of the Spirit that we will not understand. He told Nicodemus that he could not tell from where the wind came or where it went.
I. The Giver Meets... Man (B) Likewise, we are to trust God even when we may not understand all His ways. Jesus desires to give the Holy Ghost to every person, but He does not require us to understand every nuance of His Spirit before He will grant us this precious gift. He only asks us to believe that He is a giver of good gifts, which is all He asked of Nicodemus.
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(A) The Giver Meets a Needy Woman Broken lives are not the product of simply one age or one society. Sin has ruined lives since the fall of man in Eden. The mores of society certainly have deteriorated, and the prominence of sin in our contemporary culture is more visible than ever, but the brokenness caused by sin is nothing new. It always has been true that sin decimates the lives of the unsaved.
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(A) Jesus clearly stated, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). In every era and in every society, the enemy of mankind has sought to steal hope, to kill faith, and to destroy lives. Gratefully, the ongoing work of our giving God continues as well, for Jesus further stated in John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(A) John 4 chronicles the intersection of a broken life with the giving God at a well in Samaria, a land inhabited by people of mixed Jewish and Gentile ancestry. This region was despised by the Jewish people because of its interracial inhabitants, but Jesus was determined to keep a date with destiny in Samaria.
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(A) “He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria” (John 4:3- 4). He did not need to go through Samaria because it provided the shortest route, for it was common for the religious Jews of that day to avoid the area entirely in their journeys. Rather, our Lord felt the need to pass that way because of a broken life awaiting His life-changing gift.
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(A) A.The Physically Thirsty Master Jesus arrived in the city of Sychar and stopped at the well of Jacob. The modern location of this well is reasonably certain, and the current well is nearly one hundred feet deep. Such wells were usually carved out from solid limestone, with a small curb remaining to guard against someone accidentally falling in. It was probably on a similar ledge that Jesus sat down to rest.
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(A) It was the sixth hour, which is noon, so we can surmise that Jesus had been walking for possibly as many as six hours. Obviously, He was weary, and He stopped at the well to rest. Jesus allowed the disciples to go into the city to purchase something to eat, and in their absence He encountered a woman soiled by years of unclean living.
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(A) Jesus sought the opportunity to give something special to this woman of Samaria. He defied all societal taboos by speaking to her since she was both a Samaritan and a sinful woman.
John 4:7 “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink” (John 4:7).
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(A) This woman was shocked at Jesus’ request, for she knew that a devout Jew would have nothing to do with her. Possibly she thought that He must be very thirsty to risk censure by receiving a drink of water from her. Instead, Jesus was looking for an opportunity to give living water to her.
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(B) B.The Spiritually Thirsty Woman Jesus quickly addressed the real reason for His conversation with the woman of Samaria by pointing to her need instead of His own (John 4:10). The long journey had left Jesus thirsty for water from the well, but He also knew that life’s journey had produced an even greater need in this woman.
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(B) Her character was anything but sterling. When Jesus asked her to call her husband, she attempted to hide her past by saying that she had no husband. The Lord forced her to confront her past by telling her that He was aware she had five husbands previously, and that the man with whom she was living presently was not her husband. Her shame and tarnished reputation haunted her every step!
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(B) The very fact that she came for water in the heat of the day testified to her desire to avoid human interaction. Others came in the cool morning hours or after the heat had broken in the evening, but this lady was willing to endure physical hardship to shun the public scrutiny of her neighbors. She had a very real need—not for physical water but for something to quench the thirsting of her eternal soul.
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(C) C.The Analogy of Water Thirst is a powerful and consuming need. When a person lacks proper hydration, his or her every thought often is centered around that thirst. People have been known to hallucinate because of their consuming need for water. Jesus drew on that physical reality in order to reach out to this woman.
John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14).
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(C) What a promise of a wonderful gift! Jesus assured this broken woman that He could provide her not just with a drink but with a supply of spiritual satisfaction. It would be not only a cup of water but a well that would emanate from her soul.
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(C) We are not left to wonder as to the meaning of this analogy of “living water,” for Jesus explained it clearly elsewhere in the Scriptures. “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit...)” (John 7:37-39).
II. The Giver Meets... Woman(C) The great Giver, Jesus Christ, offers a remedy for spiritual thirst: the baptism with the Holy Ghost. Those who have tasted of the Holy Spirit well understand His promise that a person need never thirst again. Each morning the indwelling Spirit of God springs up with fresh, new, and everlasting life. What a gift!
III. The Giver Desires... (A) The Giver Desires True Worship A.The Giver Is a Spirit Several important truths are revealed in the dialogue at the well of Sychar, not the least of which is that “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). This is an important point to understand for several reasons.
III. The Giver Desires... (A) First, it is vital to our grasp of the oneness of God. Only when we recognize that God’s essence is spiritual can we begin to comprehend the wonder of the Incarnation. By understanding the incorporeal nature of God, we recognize that the Holy Spirit is not a separate person in a non-biblical trinity but is a description of God Himself. He is holy, and He is a Spirit.
III. The Giver Desires... (A) Second, to comprehend that God is a Spirit helps a person understand that when he receives the Holy Ghost, he is receiving the very Spirit of God. This reinforces the promise of our resurrection, for Paul explained that the Spirit of God that indwells us will provide for the quickening of our bodies one day (Romans 8:11).
III. The Giver Desires... (A) Finally, grasping the spiritual nature of God reveals to us that we can commune with Him only by spiritual means. God is not moved by sacrifices of animals or mechanisms of structured religiosity. God is moved by the spiritual act of worship, for God is a Spirit!
III. The Giver Desires... (B) B.The Giver Desires Worship in Spirit As Jesus’ discussion with the woman at the well continued, the Lord expressed His desire to receive heartfelt, sincere worship. It may seem strange to think that God in all His transcendent greatness could desire anything, but Jesus made it clear that “the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23).
III. The Giver Desires... (B) Not only is a relationship with God the object of our searching and desire, but a worshipful relationship with us also is the object of His searching and desire. Jesus further described the type of worship for which He longs.
John 4:23 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23).
III. The Giver Desires... (B) Herein is the first requirement of one who would give worship to the great Giver of all good things. He must do so in Spirit.
III. The Giver Desires... (B) There are two possible applications for His use of the word Spirit, and both are meaningful to this discussion. Certainly, the Lord wants us to be influenced by His Spirit when we worship. In the fullest sense, one cannot properly worship without the work of the Holy Spirit in his or her life. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (I Corinthians 12:3).
III. The Giver Desires... (B) However, we would do an injustice to place all the burden for our worship on the Lord Jesus. Obviously, Jesus also was saying that our spirits must be involved in true worship. What we bring to God in worship must come from deeper within us than only our bodies or emotions. We must offer up to Him a flow of worship that comes from our inner person, our spirit!
III. The Giver Desires... (C) C.The Giver Desires Worship in Truth Only worshiping God from within is inadequate as well. Jesus further described the worship He desires as being based “in truth” (John 4:23). Truth is the other fountain from which our worship must flow; our worship must be in Spirit and in truth.
III. The Giver Desires... (C) Again there is a twofold meaning to this commandment. Clearly, God calls us to worship from the foundation of biblical truth. There is something special about worship that flows from New Testament apostolics.
III. The Giver Desires... (C) However, God also calls us to worship from a life void of false ways and pretense. As the psalmist said, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6). When our inner man is true in character and in conduct, then we have the proper basis from which to give the Giver the type of worship He desires.
III. The Giver Desires... (D) D.The Giver Is the Comforter Jesus has not left us to flounder in our search for this truth within ourselves, and He has not forced us to attempt to produce such truth on our own. Instead, He has promised to give us the Spirit of truth, which will live within us—the promise of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17).
III. The Giver Desires... (D) The Comforter is none other than the Spirit of Jesus Christ within—the Spirit of God. This generous Giver gives Himself into our lives, and with that blessing comes the influence of the One who said He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The Holy Ghost assists us in meeting both of God’s expectations for worship—the requirement to worship in Spirit and in truth. The Giver gives us what we need in order to be able to give back to Him properly.
IV. The Giver Sends... (A) The Giver Sends the Comforter Perhaps one of the most wonderful traits of our God is that He is as good as His Word. Anything He ever promises He will perform! “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19). Jesus promised to send the Comforter, and indeed He has done so.
IV. The Giver Sends... (A) The record of the first fulfillment of His promise is found in the Book of Acts. (See Acts 2:1-4.) Since that day, the ongoing promise of the Father has been poured out on millions of people worldwide in every era of time.
IV. The Giver Sends... (A) On the Day of Pentecost, Peter quoted the words of Joel when he said, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18). The Giver is still giving the Comforter, and He does many wonderful things for us.
IV. The Giver Sends... (A) A.The Spirit—Our Teacher Among the many great blessings that accompany the baptism with the Holy Ghost is a promise found in John’s Gospel: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). The Spirit of the Lord is a teacher in our lives.
IV. The Giver Sends... (A) This gift is vital to us because the ways and things of the Spirit are not readily comprehended by the natural man. (See I Corinthians 2:14.) Only by the illumination of the Spirit does the Word of God unfold its many layers and facets to us. Left to our own devices, we will fail to understand and properly apply His precepts to our lives. But when the Spirit of Christ dwells in us, then He teaches us all things necessary for victorious living!
IV. The Giver Sends... (B) B.The Spirit—Our Peace The Spirit of Jesus produces fruit in our lives. That fruit is multifaceted, but peace is one of its characteristics. (See Galatians 5:22-23.) Jesus specifically addressed this result of the indwelling of His Spirit when He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
IV. The Giver Sends... (B) In a world filled with chaos and confusion when men’s hearts fail them for fear, the blessing of peace is an invaluable gift. Man’s best efforts to achieve peace fail, and sometimes he even resorts to narcotics, alcohol, and medications in his attempt to find peace. However, Jesus said His peace is different from what the world can give. His gift of peace is abiding and unshakable. The Holy Ghost is a gift of the Spirit of Peace through the abiding presence of the Prince of Peace.
IV. The Giver Sends... (C) C.The Spirit—Our Guide When the Spirit resides in a life, He provides direction. This, too, is a promise of the Lord (John 16:13). The Giver of all good things desires not only to give us salvation but also to direct our steps and lead us to further spiritual blessings. God delights in seeing us walk in ways that He can bless.
IV. The Giver Sends... (C) The Word of God is truly a light for our path, but the Spirit of the Lord also guides and directs our steps on a moment-by-moment basis. These two wonderful influences harmonize in steering an honest-hearted individual on the quest to become more like Christ. As we do so, we abound more and more in spiritual favor and blessing. The Giver guides us so that He may keep on giving into our lives!
Reflections It is a striking act of grace that God chooses to give good gifts to His children. In no fashion could we possibly expect or merit such treatment, but the goodness of God is manifest in His willingness to bless His people. This desire to give prompted the very work of Calvary as He laid down His life for us through the Incarnation.
Reflections Throughout His ministry on earth, Jesus Christ sought opportunities to give to people. When Nicodemus came to Him by night, Jesus gave him the wonderful truth of the new-birth experience including divine insights into the nature of the Spirit. When a woman with a checkered past encountered Him at the well of Sychar, He gave her hope and the offer of living water that would quench the ongoing spiritual thirst in her life.
Reflections The Lord’s request in return is that all who drink of the fountain of living water give themselves to ongoing worship. Such worship should emanate from deep within the spirit of a person under the influence of the Spirit of God. Moreover, such worship should flow from a foundation of both apostolic truth and true character within the believer. In order to facilitate such worship, God gives believers the greatest gift of all—the Holy Ghost.
Reflections The Holy Spirit is the very Spirit of truth. He is the Spirit of peace, our teacher, and our guide. He is Jesus Christ! As we learn to yield our lives in greater and greater fashion to His Spirit, we position ourselves to receive further blessings from the wonderful Giver of gifts.