Spiritual Life Comes From The Holy Spirit

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John 7:37 – 44

37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” 43 So the crowd was divided about him. 44 Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.

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In this short passage, four things jump right out and ask us to look into them more closely.  What is this Festival that Jesus was at, and how important is it to what he says?  What is it that Jesus is actually offering to people who come to Him?  Why did the people think that Jesus might be the great Prophet they had been waiting for?  And why are they confused about Jesus’ identity?

Let’s start with this day of celebration in Jerusalem.  This was the annual Festival of Tabernacles, also called the Feast of Booths.  This was the time when the Jews would remember the years of wandering in the desert and had to live in tents until they finally crossed the Jordan River and could live in houses.  At this Festival, thousands of Jews would come to Jerusalem and pitch a tent, or a covered booth, and remember God’s protection and provision to them in the past.

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On the very last day of the Festival, there was to be extra rejoicing as the end of the week commemorated their forefathers entry into the promised land of Canaan, the land which “flowed with milk and honey”.  At this climactic moment, Jesus stood up and boldly proclaimed, “Come to me whoever is thirsty.”  And to whoever would put their trust in Him, He promised them, “rivers of living water”.

Think about the picture of the ancient Israelites who wandered the barren deserts for forty years.  Their greatest need was to find water.  They found out very quickly that they had to trust God to supply their daily needs.  The most dramatic example of this is when God told Moses to “strike the rock, and water shall flow from it.” (Read Exodus 17:1-7)

What Jesus was saying to the people was that just like God Himself through Moses provided natural water to sustain their bodies in the desert, so now Jesus was by analogy saying that He was like God and could provide sustaining water to the people there in Jerusalem.  But not just natural water, but spiritual water that could refresh the hearts and souls of those who would put their trust in Him.

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No wonder the people began to say, “This must be the great Prophet,” which alludes to Deuteronomy 18:18 where God promised Moses that another great Prophet like him would one day come to help the people of Israel.  Some people went even further and declared that Jesus must be the Messiah, the specially anointed One whom God would send to save Israel.

And yet, when the people are so close to the truth about who Jesus was, and is, they became confused.  They had been taught that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem of Judea.  They had heard that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee.  They could not reconcile the rumours with their teachings.  What is sad is that both of these statements were true, for Jesus was in fact born in Bethlehem, but then raised up in Nazareth.

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I believe that the situation today is not much different from that day long ago.  So many people are still wandering around in spiritually dry waste lands.  Many seek to fill this spiritual void in their lives, but they are looking in the wrong places.  Jesus is still standing before us all and saying, “Come to Me, and I will quench your spiritual thirst.”

When Jesus died on the cross, He opened the flood gates of God’s compassion and forgiveness for our sins.  That is, to whomever will accept Jesus as the One who paid the penalty for sin for them.  And when Jesus was raised from the dead and returned to Heaven, He was then able to release the power and the life of the Holy Spirit into all of our lives.

That is what is meant above about the Spirit not having been given yet.  While Jesus was on earth, He ministered directly to those who were immediately there before Him.  Remember that God is really three Persons-in-One, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  And God chose to limit His involvement with mankind as one Person at a time.  We all had to wait for Christ to ascend before the Holy Spirit could descend and empower and fill each one of God’s children.

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Consider what has been said here and ask yourself this: “Is my life spiritually dead and dry?”  Then I invite you to turn to Jesus who can forgive you of your sins and release the power of the Holy Spirit into your life.  And don’t be like some of those Jews who thought they knew who Jesus was and where He came from.  Read the Bible and find out for yourself.  God bless you on your journey for Truth and Life.

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

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“For God So Loved The World” – Pt. 1

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John 3:16

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

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It is possible that this single verse has had more impact on the world than any other verse in the Bible.  Contained within these few words, the entire message of the Gospel, or Good News, is laid out for us.  It is truly amazing how broad and how deep the spiritual message is of this one verse.  And if you asked most people to tell you what their favorite verse is, or what verse they learned to memorize first, the answer for many people is John 3:16.

In many ways, this verse is the foundation for one of the most popular Christian pamphlets of the ’70s and ’80’s.  It was called “The Four Spiritual Laws“.  The message of that pamphlet could be summarized in four words: 1) God; 2) Mankind; 3) Sin; and 4) Jesus.  The message was: “God existed, and then created Mankind.  But Mankind sinned and became separated from God. The only solution to this problem of sin was to send Jesus, the Perfect Man/God who died on the Cross to make a bridge so that men and women could come back to God.

To appreciate the spiritual depth of this verse, I want to slow things down and have us take a look at each of the important words and phrases of this verse.  I pray that all who read this will not just see the beauty of this magnificent verse of Scripture, but will take the Message to heart and let Jesus be the Lord of their life.

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“For God…”

  • At the end of verse 15, Jesus had just told Nicodemus that if any person would put their faith in Him, the Son of Man, that person would then have eternal life.  Many scholars think that vv. 16-21 are now John’s words as he reflects back on the life of Jesus.  Seeing that there existed this unpassable chasm between God and mankind, God decided He would have to do something to bridge this gap.  We could translate these words, “And so thus God…”  It is always God who acts first for our benefit.

“For God so loved…”

  • If there is any one single truth about God that people need to understand, it is that God is a God of love.  1 John 4:7-8 tells us that Love comes from God, for God is Love.  Far too many people have an image of God up in heaven, either as an old man who is not interested in nor involved in the affairs of men, or they see God as a punishing God who stands by with a big stick to hurt us and make us suffer when we sin.  This is as far away from the truth as a person can get.  GOD IS LOVE!!

“For God so loved the world…”

  • It is also wrong to think that God shows favoritism, or is just the “God of the Jews”.  The word ‘world’ here does not have anything to do with geography, but refers to all of mankind that fills the world.  The love of God is meant to be Universal in its scope, so that any person who wants to can be able to come back to God.”

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son…”

  • Some versions say that God gave “His only begotten Son,” which sounds like the Son was “born” from God just like we give birth to our children.  A more accurate translation for the Greek word here is “his unique” or “his only one of a kind” Son.  What is truly amazing about the love of God for mankind is that God could have chosen many other ways to show His love for us, but He didn’t.  There was one and ONLY ONE Son of God. 
  • The Son, who also shares the nature of Godhood, was intricately bound to the Father and the Holy Spirit in a triangle of pure love for each other.  Read John 17:20-26.  And yet, God gave His One and Only Son over to the world and allowed Him to die so that we might live.  Such sacrificial love.  God did that for you and for me.  What amazing love!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him…”

  • In this phrase, we see once more the love of God.  When sin was about to enter the world, God could have prevented it…that is if God had created us to be robots without the option of free will.  But even after sin came into the world, God has never forced Himself upon us.  God is the perfect gentleman, and He patiently waits for anyone who will come to Him in faith and believe that Jesus can forgive us our sin once we willingly repent of sin and accept Him as Lord.  Have you done that?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

  • When I see the word ‘perish’ I see the picture of a person out at sea and about to drown.  If the person goes back under the water one more time and not come back up, then that person will perish.  But if someone reaches out and lifts him/her up, then that person has just passed out of death and into life. 
  • That is what happens when a person accepts Jesus as their Lord and Saviour of their life.  That person is no longer in danger of eternal death and separation from God; that person will live forever in heaven with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

So my friend, what is your response to John 3:16?

Jesus Is The Lamb of God

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John 1:29 – 34

“Behold The Lamb of God”

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”[1]

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There certainly were a number of things that were unusual about John the Baptist.  We know from the other Gospel accounts that John wore strange clothes (made out of camel’s hair) and he ate strange food (locusts and wild honey).  And then he was out in the wilderness for quite some time announcing, “Repent of your sins, for the Kingdom of God has come near,” and was baptizing people as a sign of their repentance.

And then Jesus arrived on the scene.  And what did John say: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  What an interesting saying.  And then note how John mentions that he had not known Jesus and who he truly was until God revealed it to him.  In fact, he says that the primary reason that God had called him to be an evangelist in the desert was for the very purpose of being able to identify Jesus as the Lamb of God.

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What does that mean, “Lamb of God”?  To appreciate the depth of meaning of this expression, we would have to go back and read much of the Old Testament.  It was made clear by God to the Israelite people as far back as their time of bondage in Egypt that they would be saved only if a lamb, a pure lamb, were killed and the blood of the lamb be put on the doorposts of their homes.  (Read Exodus 12:1 – 29.)

Over the many hundreds of years since God sent Moses to rescue the nation of Israel, each year at Passover the Jews would kill a lamb and eat the meat to remind them of God’s great salvation.  It was a great reminder of God’s love for His people.  But whether it was the lamb killed during the Passover, or the goats and rams killed on the Day of Atonement (sacrifices made to bring forgiveness of sins for the people), they knew that this was still just a temporary reprieve from the guilt of their sins.

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But there was still the hope and the promise that one day God would send a Deliverer who would rescue people for all time from their sins.  And that promise became real for John when he baptized Jesus.  John saw the Holy Spirit come down on Jesus and confirm for him that Jesus would be the One who would take away our sins once and for all.

Now speaking of the Holy Spirit coming down upon Jesus, I want to look at that for a moment.  Notice that it says the Holy Spirit descended from Heaven “like a dove”.  It does not say that the Holy Spirit was a dove.  And yet we have this picture of the Holy Spirit as a dove gently fluttering down and sitting on Jesus’ shoulder.  That is not the image I see.

We know that when people have God’s Spirit, it comes and fills them and empowers them to do whatever God leads them to do.  Whether it is Samson, David, Elijah, early Christians or you and me, Scripture talks about “being filled with God’s Spirit” and with this comes the power of God. Whatever John saw, I do think that it came down gently “like a dove” but I kind of imagine that it was much greater than our image which came down and then filled Jesus with the power He would need for the ministry that lay before Him.

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So as I look at these verses in John, I see a couple powerful theological truths here.  Let us not miss the fact that this passage gives us support for the idea of the Trinity.  We know that God (the Father) had sent John and spoken to him concerning Jesus (the Son) who would come, and upon whom the Spirit (the Holy Spirit) would descend.  A divine incomprehensible truth for us humans, and yet it is still a Truth of Scripture.

Secondly, we see the beginning of Jesus’ ministry begin in humble submission to John’s baptism (which He says in Matthew 3:15 was really submission to doing all that God requires of men).  But we also see that He will go forward filled and empowered by God’s Spirit for what lies ahead.  And ultimately His life and death and resurrection will prove, as John says here in verse 34, that in fact, Jesus is really the Son of God.

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And what does this passage do for us?  It prepares us for all that will come in the rest of this Gospel.  But remember, this is not to be just an intellectual pursuit of knowing about the life of Jesus.  It should be preparing us to know Him better as our God and as Saviour, the Lamb of God who would die us.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Jn 1:29–34). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Jesus – The Eternal Word

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John 1:1 – 5

The Word of Life

1 In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2From the very beginning the Word was with God.  3 Through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him.  4 The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to people.  5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.

This is a grand opening to this book, the Gospel of John.  It is very interesting to see how each Gospel (the Good News) begins from a different perspective in setting the background to the glorious entrance of Christ, who came as a baby and lived among us as the man named Jesus.

Mark begins his story with John the Baptist, whose preaching prepared the hearts of people to receive Jesus.  He came and was baptized by John to lead us by example to show the importance of being fully submitted to God.  Then we see Jesus being fully tempted as a man by Satan, but Jesus wins victory and shows that He will be the right Man to save all of Mankind from sin and Satan.

Luke takes us back at the start of his Gospel to the miraculous births of both John the Baptist and Jesus.  He narrates for us the simple and humble beginnings of the One who is King by having simple shepherds witness this divine birth in a lowly stable.  Matthew takes us back even further by starting his Gospel with a long genealogy to show that Jesus came from a line of kings, all the way back to King David, and was also the Successor of Faith having descended from Abraham himself.

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Of the four Gospels though, John takes us back the furthest of all.  He takes us back, not to the beginning of the earthly life of Jesus, and not even back to the beginning of the creation of the world.  No, John takes us back before the beginning, before there was even Time itself.  And in that place where only God existed, there also existed the Word.  And contrary to some philosophies and religions, this was not some impersonal or mystic force, but the equally divine and creative Second Person of the Trinity of God.

We start to see the personal side of this One who is called “The Word” in verse two.  Greek has three gender endings on most nouns – masculine, feminine and neuter.  This “Word” that was with God from before the beginning of time is written as a masculine noun, which implies a “person”, not an abstract “thing” was there with God in the beginning.

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There are many other important truths given to us in this powerful introduction that we must make sure we do not miss.  Not only was this eternal Word “with God”, but verse one tells us that “the Word was God.”  This is one of the greatest paradoxes and mysteries about God.  How can one God consist of two Beings?  (Actually three when we add in the Holy Spirit.)  Yes, this is a mystery.  And yet this is what the Bible claims.  And if the Bible fails to be true here, then it is in danger of falling in every other area of truth.  I’ll come back to this.

Another important truth in this passage is that the Word was intimately involved in the creation of all that we see in the Universe.  True, it is God who created the Universe (read Genesis chapter 1), but here we learn that it is through the Word that all things came into being.  In other words, the Word was the Agency through whom God himself caused all things to exist.  (Jumping ahead, we know that Jesus is the Word spoken of here, so we now know that Jesus Himself was intimately involved in creating us and everything around us.)

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Back to this puzzle about God being Three-in-One (the Trinity).  There is an analogy in nature itself that is helpful for us to understand this concept.  A brief description of light is shared in the book “Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations” which says:

Science tells us that light is constituted of three rays, or groups of wavelengths, distinct from each other, no one of which without the others would be light. Each ray has its own separate function.

The first originates, the second formulates, illuminates or manifests, and the third consummates. The first ray, often called invisible light, is neither seen nor felt. The second is both seen and felt. The third is not seen but is felt as heat.

Mysterious and yet very simple at the same time.  Just as we can accept that there are different components that make up light, but altogether is still just one light, so too we can accept by faith that God is three Persons with different kinds of interaction with us, yet God is still only One in nature and reality.

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One other quick insight on a truth here is in the contrasts found in vv. 4 and 5.  The Word is the source of life and light, which are the complete opposite of darkness and death.  We learn in other verses that Satan, the demon ruler of Hell, is the source of darkness and death.

So we have right here at the beginning of this book a sharp contrast and battle shaping up between the life-giving Word who illuminates us with all that is spiritually true, and the death-dealing demon lord and his realm of darkness.  But praise God, we are told that the Word is forever shining (present tense verb) and Darkness has never been able to put out that life-giving source of life, who is Jesus.

Hallelujah!!  What a great way to start this book.