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River Spirit

ATP Blog #49

River Spirit

John 7:37-39

Isn’t it great when the Bible interprets itself? So often Jesus Christ said things that left people a little confused, even His disciples. He had just finished confusing the religious leaders by telling them that He was going where they could not find Him. Now, on the last day of the feast (Feast of Tabernacles – see 7:2), Jesus explains to the Jews what He had just explained to the Samaritan woman back in Chapter Four. He spoke very clearly (probably in His teacher voice), saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.’ (v37b) Does that sound familiar? It should have to His disciples, but the religious leaders would be somewhat confused. They had heard of God’s Holy Spirit from the Old Testament writings; they would have also heard of ‘living water’ as that referred to a moving stream or a spring. Here Jesus puts the two together, in the spiritual sense, but what was He referring to?

Clue #1: Faith “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (v38) Belief that leads to life change is faith. Belief in Jesus Christ, according to the Scriptures (all the prophesies regarding the Messiah) leads to a new life. Notice first that the new life flows out of the heart (seat of the emotions, controller of the spirit). Faith in Jesus Christ involves putting Him on the throne of your life, allowing Him to control your spirit, will, and emotions. Secondly, we see that this new life is like a river that is full, flowing, and far reaching. That which now controls you flows life, not only for you, but also through you for the benefit of others. It is a constant, non-stop, flow of life.

Clue #2: Spirit “He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive;” Pointing to Pentecost and beyond, Jesus was saying that this ‘River of Living Water’ was actually His Spirit (God’s Spirit, known as the Holy Spirit), which would be gifted permanently to all people who truly believed in Him. In Old Testament times, the Spirit of God came upon people for specific tasks, but the people had to rely on priests and sacrifices to connect with God. The sacrifice Jesus would make, once for all, made it possible for God’s Spirit to reside or abide within all those who accepted this gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. It is the submission of control to this Spirit of God that would produce the rivers of living water from within.

Timing “The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” The Holy Spirit (this river of living water from within) was to be a gift … a grace gift from God to those who believed in Jesus Christ. This gift was a fulfillment of the promise that Jesus would never leave those who believed in Him, even though His physical presence would be removed shortly after He rose from the dead. The condition of this gift was merely the glorification of Jesus Christ … which happened upon His resurrection from the dead, and was completed in His ascension back to Heaven.

Personal Do you have this river of living water flowing from within you? If you do, there should be evidence. Signs that the Spirit of God is producing this water within you include, the gifts of the Spirit (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12), and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Let us not be like beavers, stopping up the river to keep it to ourselves, but rather let us allow God to create life both in and through us with His living water.

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