CHRIST'S PROPHETIC OFFICE, #27
"The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." (JOH 4:19)
The Lord Jesus was speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. " 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? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 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. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly."(JOH 4:11-18)
Our blessed Saviour was not only very God but He was also very Man! He was very man meaning He had the same feelings and passions, and He was faced with the same temptations that you and I are. He had a human nature. It was as such that He held the offices of Prophet, High Priest, and King. To be our substitute, it was necessary for Him to take upon Himself our human nature: He was subject to suffering, to sorrow, to temptations, to everything you and I are. He was preserved by His Godhead, by His God-nature, from falling into sin. He never sinned, but sin excepted, He was everything you and I are.
As a prophet, and teacher, He came to teach. As a teacher He began to teach this woman. He was teaching her to understand the way of salvation. He began to teach her what He was in His God-nature. HEB 4:12-13 says, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."
He taught her by the simple command, "Go call your husband." When she said that she had no husband, He said that she was right. He revealed in His answer that He was a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of her heart. This is what the Lord teaches you and me as He leads us in the way of salvation. He enables us to feel, to understand, to know that He is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart.
In the new birth, when the work of regeneration is wrought in the soul, the thoughts and intents of the heart are altered. He reveals unto us the evil of our thoughts. He gives us a new attitude. He gives us a new thought process. Our spirit of rebellion is dissolved. Our thirsting and hungering after the things of this life are quenched. Our heart becomes aflame with such a longing desire after Christ and His beauty. Christ is formed in us: that is how He works grace in the soul.
As He helps us to understand that He knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts, every thought stands naked and open before Him. We see the pollution of sin. We see that the heart is a nest of unclean birds. We see our own corruption, and we start to understand the need for cleansing. We then understand the need of that fountain that is open to cleanse all sin and uncleanness. We have no knowledge of this until He, in His prophetic office, begins to teach.
She stands naked before Him, with every thought and intent of her heart open before Him. Her response is, "I perceive that thou art a prophet." Shes saying that shes starting to see something shes never seen before. In the same way, you and I see ourselves in a new light. As He teaches, as He unfolds to us the circumstances of our lives, we start to perceive the corruption of our own hearts. We see the pollution in our natures. We begin to perceive that He is a teacher: He is teaching us who we are.
As a man He was able also to sympathize with us. This is a great thing when you and I learn to see the corruption of our hearts. When we see the pollution of our hearts, it would embarrass us to come before someone who had no understanding of us, to confess our sins and plead for mercy to one who had never shared our nature. Can you picture the consolation we have now, that in His human nature and in His God-nature He knows and understands every thought and intent of our hearts, but in His human nature, He can sympathize with us because He was there, too? He can sympathize with the Samaritan womans ignorance, understand the power of sin, and know how she was taken in that snare.
If youre talking to someone that you know has also fallen into sin, its easier to discuss your own sin than if you were talking to someone you fear will be critical and throw stones at you. The Lord Jesus Christ never fell into such sin, but He well understood the power of it and the temptation of it. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (HEB 4:15)
When we feel our infirmities, we can we come to a blessed, gracious High Priest who understands, and who can be touched with sympathy. He can be "touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are." When you and I have been tempted by the power of Satan and the power of sin, and we have to confess before the Lord that these unclean thoughts have been troubling our hearts, we know that He has been tempted with exactly the same thoughts. He understands them so intimately. Do you see how much easier it becomes to come before Him for more teaching, because He can relate so well to our circumstances?
Our Saviour was so intimately acquainted with the power of her unbelief. He understood her ignorance so well. She insulting rejections could not discourage him. Therefore, as the Shepherd and Bishop of her soul, He could lead her so gently. If you understand sheep, and a shepherds heart, then you understand that a shepherd leads on softly and gently. You dont see a shepherd take a stick and beat the sheep: he talks to them, and the sheep hear his voice, and they follow him. We see how gently our blessed Saviour is guiding her yet further in the way of salvation.
See the distinction between a shepherd and a cowboy. Do you know theres a great difference? The Scriptures give us a beautiful description of this with Esau and Jacob. Jacob was proceeding with his flocks and his herds, and Esau offered to leave some of his men with Jacob. He offered to stay and help him bring his flocks and herds across, because they were going to go to Mount Seir. Esau said to Jacob, "Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee. [Ill lead the way] And [Jacob] said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die." (GEN 33:12-13)
Esau would get behind the flock and drive them. Jacob said that if you overdrove them only one day, the whole herd would die. He could destroy the sheep by driving them. Verse 14 says, "Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir."
I want you to see the difference: Esau would "overdrive" them, but "I will lead on softly." Do you know why you cannot overdrive a flock and cause them to all die in one day? If you get too far out in front of them, theyll quit following. Theres no compulsion there. There must be a drawing: not a driving with a whip, but a drawing power. When the Lord Jesus Christ goes before us and shows us the gift of God, He gives us an eye of faith to look unto that blessed redeeming love. He gives us the faith - eye to look unto the love of the Father - the gift of God - and that draws us. He leads us "on softly" and, in His prophetic office, teaches us as we follow.
The Lord does not use the whip of the law to drive anyone to Christ. The Lord says the whip is reserved for horses. PRO 26:3 says, "A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back." When the Lord was talking to the woman of Samaria, He was talking to a sinner receiving His teaching. He was drawing her with His teaching and presenting the gift of God, but the fool, the rebel, might require the rod. Theres a difference: the thunderings of the law are for the disobedient.
The Lord in His Word speaks of the thunderings of the law. We see that in HEB 10:26-27. "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." The whip of the law is reserved for the fool that sins willfully, deliberately: the one who will trample upon the precious blood of Christ, the one who will count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, who will do despite unto the Spirit of grace. To those, the law thunders with "a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation."
Think of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Who was Jesus talking to when He gave that parable? He was talking to the Pharisees who were rebellious against Him, wanting to take Him to the brink of the hill and throw Him over. They were refusing to hear His teaching; they are the ones to whom He gave the parable of the rich man in hell. The Lord does use the rod for the back of the fool. However, when He was talking to the woman of Samaria at the well, a sinner hearing the teaching, there wasnt one hint about the law in His preaching and the teaching - not one hint about hell or damnation.
In the case of this sinful woman, our blessed Saviour did not begin with the whip of the law to drive her unto His feet. He showed her the pollution of sin. This is how the Lord deals with those who are teachable. He shows them the pollution of sin. He shows them the "gift of God": the Fathers love to those who are polluted in sin and the gift of His own Son to redeem them from all iniquity. He draws them and He leads them, bringing them out of their sin and helping them to see that living water in their souls.
After Jesus had revealed the prejudice in her heart by asking for a cup of cold water, He responded most graciously by directing her attention to her ignorance. See how the Lord teaches you and me: He starts enabling us to realize our ignorance; how ignorant we are of the true will of God in our false impressions, our desires after the waters of this life. He helps us see how ignorant this is. He shows us our need of teaching.
"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." (JOH 4:10) Do you see how Hes showing her that she lacked teaching? She lacked an understanding of the gift of God. She did not understand the Fathers love in giving His Son. If you and I truly, rightly understand the gift of God in giving His Son, then sin becomes exceeding sinful. We lose our thirsting after sin. We lose our desire after the things of this life. Our thirst is quenched, and we start hungering and thirsting after righteousness if we know the gift of God and who it is thats speaking with us. When the Lord comes to teach us, we have to recognize that He is speaking to us: in His Providence, in the circumstances into which He leads us, as well as in His Word. It is He who is speaking to us.
This past week I talked to a person who had such a struggle. I had to remind her how the ship was in the midst of the sea, and Jesus saw the disciples toiling and rowing. As He watched them toiling and rowing, they saw Him coming: walking upon the waves. We learn to see that it is Jesus who is walking upon these waves; these waves were sent to bring us so that we would start desiring Him, realizing that the things of this life can no longer satisfy.
Then Peter said, "If it be thou, bid me come unto thee," and he came out and walked upon the water, but as soon as he saw the waves, he began to sink. As soon as our eyes are taken off from Christ, we again begin to sink into the things of this life. Our eyes must remain on Christ. We must see that all circumstances and all conditions and everything He brings about in our lives are of His sending. He sends them all for our good, for our teaching.
We have to learn to recognize who it is thats speaking with us. That is what He said to this woman. He said that if she understood that gift of God, and if she knew who it was that was talking with her, she would be asking for this living water. She wouldnt be murmuring about the mundane concerns of daily life, but her eye would be fixed upon Christ. This is what we learn to see. He had to help her understand her ignorance. Thats when she began to realize that He was a prophet and a teacher. She began to realize that she had come under the teaching of a great prophet.
Even after all of these prejudices were overcome by His gracious teaching and her desires began to be kindled for the gift of God, her ignorance still kept her from seeing the blessedness of that gift, even after her heart began to melt. This Gift is none other than the only begotten Son of God. The Syrian leper saw he was a leper. He heard about the prophet of Israel. He came to the prophet of Israel, but when the prophet told him that he had to go into the Jordan River and wash seven times, he still didnt understand. Look how far hed come, but he still didnt see that it was in the way of unconditional obedience that the miracle was performed. It wasnt until his servant told him how foolish he was that his eyes were opened, and he saw that it was in the way of unconditional obedience that he would be cleansed. Only when he saw that could he go of his own free will and be cleansed.
This is what we see with this woman at the well: her heart is beginning to melt. Shes starting to see that she needs something, but she doesnt really understand what it is. Her ignorance still knew no bounds, but her prejudice was being overcome and her heart had begun to be won. The Lord was working in her heart, but what was the next step of His teaching? Her conscience had to be reached. She must be convinced of sin. What did He do?
JOH 16:8 says, "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin." That is the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is working grace in your heart and mine, the first thing He does (after Christ has been revealed and become an attraction, and we start desiring that living water) is to convince us of our sin. "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin." The word reprove in the original Greek means "convinced". We have to be convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.
Unbelief can never be truly overcome until we receive knowledge of the sinful nature of our hearts. Until we learn to understand that we are only sinners saved by grace, well never come into unconditional surrender to the will of God. Our prejudices will continue to govern our lives until we learn to see how unworthy we are, until we can unconditionally surrender ourselves to the Lord.
Our unbelief has to be subdued. We have to be convinced of sin because by nature we are not able to believe Him. To rightly believe in Him means that we see Him as our authority and that we come in unconditional surrender to His will. Unbelief is rejection of His authority. To believe is to come to where we truly fear God; to reverence God and His will. We have to become convinced of sin, or well never understand what it is to come into subjection to His divine law, to His blessed gospel message.
Again, our Saviour did not use the consequences of sin (or the whip of the law) to drive this woman to His feet. It was not hell and damnation that He was preaching to her; He was preaching to her the "gift of God." He graciously opened her understanding. She said, "I perceive that thou art a prophet." She didnt say that she perceived that He was a judge that she stood condemned under the guilt of the law. She said, "I perceive that thou art a prophet." He was teaching her to acknowledge the pollution of sin: her own sinful nature. He called attention to her sin of adultery, and she said, "I perceive that thou art a prophet." He was graciously opening her understanding, in an effort to reach her conscience. Our consciences will speak to us when our hearts are convinced.
"Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly." (JOH 4:16-18) This woman received a glimpse of that perfect gift of God. She began to understand the Godhead of her teacher. She started to understand that He saw the thoughts and the intents of her heart. She began to see who it was that spoke to her, that He was more than just a Jew: He was a prophet.
JOH 4:19 says, "The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." In such a gracious way our Saviour had led this sinner to understand what we read in HEB 4:13. "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." Until we receive at least some degree of knowledge of this truth, we will not understand the gift of God. Well never rightly understand the gift of the Father in giving His Son until we understand that all-seeing eye that knows every thought and intent of our hearts. When we realize that, we learn to understand why Christ was suffering. Then we become aware of the sin from which He came to redeem us.
Then we begin to understand the depth of the Fathers love: though He knew every thought and intent of our hearts and the terrible state we were in, He had such love for us that He could restrain His love for His Son in order to redeem us from our iniquity. As we understand the Fathers love in giving His Son, then we realize that gift of God. Jesus said, "If thou knewest the gift of God thou wouldest have asked." How sure that is. How soon we ask when we rightly understand this. He is an all-seeing God.
Again, I need to emphasize that such an experience does not drive us unto Christ by the whip of the law. We see the love of God; we see the gift of God shed abroad and His graciousness in loving such unclean and hell-deserving sinners. We see that it is the lovingkindness of God that leads us to repent, to come to a change of attitude.
It was not a form of a legal repentance. Cain had a legal repentance. Cain repented because of the consequences of his sin, but he never once repented that he had killed his brother. Judas repented, throwing the money back, "Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that." (MAT 27:4) He saw the consequences of his sin, but he never had remorse over having sold his own Saviour. It was the same with King Saul: King Saul repented. He said, "I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God." (1SA 15:30) He was concerned about the loss of his honor: the consequence of his sin. He feared the kingdom was going to be removed from him, but he never had remorse that he had disobeyed the Lord. Thats a legal repentance.
Gospel repentance is remorse over having offended such love. We have learned to see the gift of God, and our hearts are so filled with remorse to think that we have brought such a sacrifice upon the Son by our sins, which nailed Him to the tree. That makes sin become so abominable. We have to understand the family relationship between Christ and the sinner. See the family relationship, the intimacy, in the way the gospel of repentance is set forth. The gospel of repentance teaches that we have a high priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. HEB 4:15 says, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
Thats what Jesus said unto the woman: if she knew the love of God (the gift of God) and who it was that was speaking to her, then shed ask for that living water. This revelation of Christ gives us the courage to flee unto Him for mercy after He has opened our understanding and convinced us of sin. HEB 4:16 says, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
We have the courage to come by faith to Christ because we know of that perfect, intimate relationship that He has with sinners. We have no reason to fear. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." This is what that woman was experiencing: that teaching of Christ as a prophet. "I perceive." She was able to recognize He was a prophet. She was being taught what she never knew before.
The government can make laws and tell you that you may not kill, but you can be planning a murder in your heart, and theres no law against it because nobody can prove it. No one knows anything about it. One only needs to pick up a newspaper or listen to the news to learn of the many murders committed in our society. JOH 4:19 says, "The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." This word prophet comes from the Greek word prophetes, and it means "a foreteller", or "an inspired speaker or teacher". He is an inspired teacher, and she starts to realize this. This Greek word comes from the root word phemi and it means "to show or make known ones thoughts".
She noticed that He was an inspired teacher who was able to make known her thoughts. Have you ever known Christ in that light? Have you learned to understand that He knows our thoughts?
We learn the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law when we understand that Christ knows the very thoughts and intents of the heart. We come to realize the sinfulness of sin, to understand the corruption of our hearts and what we would do if it werent for restraining grace.
As this womans very thoughts and intents lay naked and open before Jesus, she began to see Him as a prophet. She said, "I perceive that thou art a prophet." To the totally blind sinner, there is no beauty in Him that we should desire Him. Thats our ignorance by nature, as we read in ISA 53:3. "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
Until our understanding is opened to see Him as that divine, inspired Teacher, as one who knows and understands every thought and intent of our hearts, theres no beauty in Him. We have no desire for Him. Its not until He begins to teach us, as a prophet, that our thoughts and intents become naked and open before Him. Then we not only recognize Him as a prophet, but we begin to desire Him as High Priest. When you and I learn to see the corruption in our hearts and the pollution of sin, we see our need of a high priest.
There is such fallacy in preaching Christ - and that He came to save us from hell - when talking to sinners whose true natures have never been revealed to their own hearts. It settles them in their presumption that they have no need to know their sin. Christ, in the high priestly office, is not to be preached to one who has no knowledge of sin. We cant tell people that all they have to do is accept Jesus and theyre saved, saved for eternity, regardless of how much they sin from then on: once saved, always saved. There is no such thing in the teachings of Christ. What we find here is that with Christ, she is in a position to see her need of a high priest.
This is what we also see in ISA 53:4. "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." We understand Him in His high priestly office when we realize that He bore our grief. We start to understand the gift of God the Father in giving His Son. We get a glimpse of our blessed Redeemer sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. We get a glimpse of Him hanging on the cross, and we see that it was our grief that He bore, and our sorrows. We see that we need Him now as a high priest; we need Him to atone for our sin.
We never rightly understand our guilt until we learn to see the gift of God in sending His Son, that "...he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (ISA 53:5) When we understand the gift of the Father in giving His Son to be bruised for our iniquities, then we see our names are written on the palms of His hands. When we see those nail prints, and our name is written there, that our sins hung Him there, then we understand the blessedness of the high priestly office of Christ.
It is so blessed when we learn to see how graciously our Saviour, like Jacob, "leads on softly." This woman of Samaria with all her insults and all her ignorance did not discourage Him. See how blessedly and how graciously He leads on so softly - such a blessed Shepherd. Jesus told the woman "Go call thy husband." This was a word to address her conscience, but see how He also said, "Come" to receive the gift of God! JOH 4:16 says, "Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither." He charges our consciences, yet our guilty consciences He immediately extends the golden scepter.
When Esther had to go before the king, she had to wait for him to extend the golden scepter. Do you know what that golden scepter is? That was the rod of his authority. Immediately, he held out the golden scepter, and Esther came to touch it (meaning that she submitted to his authority); instantly she was accepted into the kings presence. Jesus says, "Go, call thy husband." He charged her conscience, then immediately holds out the golden scepter, inviting her to "come" into His service. Come under His authority.
If we really want that living water we must first "Go." We must go call our sins to remembrance. We must come before Him and confess our sins. We must call to remembrance wherein we have forsaken the fountain of all living water. We have hewed out cisterns broken cisterns that can hold no water. We have sinned continually in thoughts, in words, and in deeds. We call to remembrance the sins of our youth, and we stand so polluted. As we stand there remembering, He holds out that golden scepter and says, "Come hither." Then we must come to Christ in our true character.
We have to come before Christ, as we sang in, "Just a Sinner," a sinner saved by grace: no merit, nothing in my hand I bring. Nothing from my side: it was all of His free and sovereign love. We come to Him as a lost sinners; we come in our true natures. This principle of the gospel comes through so powerfully in 1JO 1:10. "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
As we call to remembrance all our sins, we come and touch His scepter that golden scepter. We come under the authority of His Kingship. Until our hearts are convicted of sin, there will be no confession of sin. You can say youre a great sinner, but if youve never felt yourself a sinner, youre a hypocrite in saying so. You will never rightly come to confess sin until you have been convicted of the nature of that sin and how grievously it has displeased the Lord. Until there is a confession of sin there is no pardon.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, [He would be unjust to forgive our sin if we wont even confess it.] and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1JO 1:9) There is such a blessed harmony between truth and grace. Truth is when youre able to truly confess your sin, when you have nothing to hide before the Lord: you come as a sinner. Theres such a harmony between that truth and His saving grace. The truth enters the conscience to convict of sin and grace invites us to return unto Christ
"For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." (1PE 2:25) Do you see how truth and grace work together? We were sheep going astray; but now weve been returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. "The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." (JOH 4:19) Have you and I really understood Christ in His prophetic office? Have you and I really taught that when these convictions come into our hearts, and we have these struggles and these trials, that it is Christ who is teaching us? Have we learned to understand this prophetic office of Christ?
This poor sinner recognized the voice of God. She said, "I perceive that thou art a prophet." She began to recognize the voice of God, which is "...quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (HEB 4:12)
The divine arrow of conviction had pierced her conscience, and the effect was there. Have you stopped to analyze that? What is the effect when the arrow of conviction truly pierces the heart? We can say, with the woman of Samaria, "I perceive." I was blind, but now I see. I was born blind, but when He put the clay and spittle upon my eyes, and when I washed I was clean, I could see. Through her conscience the light had begun to enter. The light of whom she really was had now begun to dawn.
To those who delight in sin, our Saviour says in JOH 3:19-20, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." When the light begins to enter our consciences, what does it do to us? Does it become a condemnation? Are we trying to run from the light because our deeds are evil? Do we hate the light and avoid coming to it because it reveals our sin, and we are reproved? Is that the effect?
That was not the effect with this woman. When Christ sends forth His arrow of true conviction of sin, we begin to desire truth. "But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." (JOH 3:21) Thats how we can discern whether or not a revelation is the true arrow of the conviction of the Spirit. Does it cause us to want to come to the light, that we might have our deeds made manifest before God, so that we can come before God and truly repent, confessing our sins and saying, "I have sinned, I have sinned"? If thats the effect, then were coming to the true light.
There is a very important gospel principle taught here: an exercised conscience precedes a right knowledge of the gift of God in giving His only begotten Son. I can teach you on an intellectual level all the rest of your life, but youll never have a right knowledge of the gift of the Father until you understand the sinful thoughts and nature of your heart. You begin to fathom the depths of His mercy and love, the depths of our Saviors suffering to redeem us from such iniquity. When we see the iniquity of our hearts, then we understand the depths of His love in all that He has pardoned, all that He has washed away.
"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." (JOH 4:10) You wouldnt be hungry for the things of this life. It quenches your thirst so that you will never thirst again. A revelation of this gift of God is the power of God unto salvation. Thats where the power of the gospel lies. As our hearts and our understanding become enlightened to see our need of a Saviour, we begin to understand that theres power in the gospel.
ROM 1:16-17 says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth...For therein is the righteousness of God revealed..." It is in the gospel that we have the revelation of how righteous the Father is: He would rather give up His own Son to suffer, bleed, and die than to let one sin go unpunished. The gospel reveals this. The gospel reveals His love. In the gospel that perfect righteousness of God is revealed.
Until we receive some realization of how wrathful God is toward sin, we will never rightly understand the good news of the gospel. ROM 1:18 says, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." What is "ungodliness"? Its every infraction of the first table of the law: to love God with our heart and our soul and our mind. What is "unrighteousness of men"? Its every infraction of the second table of the law: to love our neighbor as ourselves. Every violation of this is "unrighteousness."
In the gospel, the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness of men, against all ungodliness of men. How is it revealed? It is revealed in that He has laid the penalty upon His own Son rather than let one infraction of that law go unpunished. This makes sin become so grievously sinful. When you understand this, youll understand why Christ began the gospel with the word "repent." The word repent means "a change of mind, a change of attitude". All that ungodliness must come to a stop. All wrong attitudes toward our neighbor must change. We must be renewed in the spirit of our minds. We must put on the new man; we must put off the old man with all its bitterness, hatred and malice. We must put on the new man, which is created after righteousness and true holiness. We must repent.
"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God." (MAR 1:14) What does it mean, "the gospel of the kingdom of God"? The word gospel means "good news", does it not? He began to preach the good news of the kingdom of God: that you can again enter it, that as you repent, confessing your sins, you can again come into the service of God and become reconciled with His holy will. He came to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. "And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (MAR 1:15)
What does He mean, "the kingdom of God is at hand"? That means its here today. You dont wait until eternity to come into the kingdom of God: you enter His kingdom today. Hes holding out the golden scepter, and He wants you and I to come and touch it, to bow under that authority, to come into His kingship and into His service, and to stop serving the things of this life. He wants us to serve Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Thats the good news of the gospel.
So many people say the good news of the gospel is that we can be saved from hell. They dont want to be saved from sin. Repent, change your attitude. Stop the ungodly deeds. Stop your unrighteousness and come to serve the living God. Come into His kingdom. "Preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (MAR 1:15)
As you and I come to understand the gift of God, as we begin to see the pollution of our own sin, as we learn to understand how wroth God was with sin, so that He would place the penalty for them upon His own Son before He would let one sin go unpunished - if this doesnt lead us to repentance, all the lightnings and thunderings of Mount Sinai will only drive us away.
The gospel repentance is the first lesson our Saviour teaches sinners as the Prophet of God. Our text says, "The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." (JOH 4:19) The Spirits work of washing by regeneration begins with His Divine influence upon the heart, which can be seen in the life. The first message of the Gospel of the kingdom is, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (MAT 4:17) Amen.
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