On Sunday, April 4, 2016, I had the honor and privilege of standing in Pastor Alan Balatbat’s pulpit, at Watermark Fellowship Church, in Chino, CA. The title of my sermon was “The Woman at the Well: An Example of Biblical Personal Evangelism.”
Here is the audio of the sermon, followed by the sermon manuscript.
Note: The audio and manuscript of the sermon are not identical.
This story is not only one of the best known stories in the New Testament; it is also one of the most misunderstood stories in the New Testament. This story has wrongly been used to justify everything from American Evangelicalism’s brand of “friendship evangelism” to women preaching in the open-air. This story has wrongly been used by Christians to justify misapplying the doctrine of Christian liberty to make excuses for living licentious lives—you know: “hanging out with sinners in order to be all things to all people.”
The reality: this beautiful story, a real account of a real day in the real life of Jesus, destroys the American Evangelical notion that relationship is required before evangelism. It destroys the notion that people need to know you care before they will care about what you believe. It destroys the notion that Christians must meet the felt needs of unbelievers before we can address their literally need of salvation. It destroys the notion that Christians must be well-trained, sophisticated apologists before they can engage people in their communities with the gospel.
It also destroys the propensity of American Evangelicalism to justify and practice discrimination under the auspices of evangelism.
In a nutshell, this story destroys most of American Evangelicalism’s pet evangelistic methodologies.
What we see in this story is:
• The Establishment of Rapport (4:1-8)
• The End of Discrimination (4:9-10)
• The Engagement of Conversation (4:11-15, 20-24)
• The Employment of the Law (4:16-19)
• The Explanation of the Gospel (4:25-26)
• The Expectancy of Evangelism (4:27-30)
The Establishment of Rapport
With whom do you find it most difficult to communicate the gospel?
That’s right. Friends; family; those with whom you have relationship.
So, what does American Evangelicalism tell you? What do most pre-packaged, gimmicky, evangelism methodologies tell you?
• You must establish a relationship with someone before you communicate the gospel to them.
• You must earn the right to speak into a person’s life by first showing them how much you care for them.
• You can’t shove your faith down people’s throats.
• You must not do anything that will push people farther away from Jesus.
Have you heard these things before? Have you been taught, maybe not here, these dos and don’ts of evangelism? Have you taught them yourselves?
Then, like the vast majority of professing Christians in America today you have been trained, and maybe you’ve trained others how NOT to engage in evangelism. You’ve been taught how to avoid reaching lost people with the gospel.
Here’s something you must know—something you need to know. These popular, American Evangelical pearls of wisdom I just shared with you cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. These little evangelistic gems are unbiblical and, in some cases, come precariously close to being blasphemous.
• The Bible does not teach that you must establish a relationship with someone before you communicate the gospel to them.
• The Bible speaks nothing about earning the right to speak to people before obeying God’s command to call all people everywhere to repent and believe the gospel.
• The Bible in no way whatsoever commands Christians to act like Muslims in their evangelism efforts. Muslims shove their religions down people’s throat by threatening people with death unless they convert. Christians do not convert lost people at the end of a steel blade.
• The Bible does not teach that the unsaved are pushing their way toward Jesus. So, it is impossible for the Christian to push a lost person a way from Jesus. The lost are voluntarily running away from Jesus and toward hell, for it’s their sin they love and Jesus they hate. No lost person anywhere is running toward Jesus, or searching for Jesus, or longing for Jesus.
Beyond the disciples, we never once see Jesus develop a long-term relationship with someone, for the purpose of communicating the gospel with them. What we see Jesus do over and over again is quickly establish rapport with people. The woman at the well is a case in point.
“Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)” (John 4:1-8).
Add to that the fact that it was very improper for a Jewish man to speak to a woman, other than his wife, in public. For a rabbi to do so was even more untoward. Jesus ignored all man-made social conventions in order to speak the truth in love to a lost woman.
While Jesus was and is omniscient (all-knowing), here He does something most of us have been taught never to do. He talked to a stranger. With one simple question, he began to establish a rapport with someone He previously had not met.
Engaging lost people in conversation is really this simple. You simply have to love Jesus and love the lost more than you love yourself. Whatever fears to which you cling, fears that keep you from communicating the most loving of all messages to lost people—the gospel—know your fears are based in an insatiable need for self-preservation and an overwhelming desire to love yourself more than anyone else.
The End of Discrimination
In the story of the woman at the well, we not only see Jesus establish rapport with a lost person, but He also puts an end to discrimination. Look at verses 9-10.
“The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water’” (John 4:9-10).
Jesus broke every rule of social etiquette in the book by engaging this woman in conversation. The Jewish people of the day saw Samaritans as “half-breeds.” The Jews so detested the Samaritans that they would walk several miles out of their way to avoid allowing their sandals to touch Samaritan soil.
According to Vincent in his classic work “Word Studies”:
“That they had dealings of some kind is shown by the disciples going into the city to buy provisions. Some authorities omit ‘for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.’ The Jews treated the Samaritans with every mark of contempt, and accused them of falsehood, folly, and irreligion. The Samaritans sold Jews into slavery when they had them in their power, lighted spurious signals for the beacon-fires kindled to announce the beginnings of months, and waylaid and killed pilgrims on their road to Jerusalem.”
The reality is that most professing Christians don’t engage in evangelism. Again, they simply love themselves more than they love Jesus and the lost. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Jesus has commanded all Christians to love God and love people. Jesus has commanded all Christians to tell the world about Him—to tell the world to repent and believe the gospel. If you’re not communicating the gospel to lost people, then you don’t love Jesus and you don’t love people as much as you should. If you’re not communicating the gospel to lost people, then you are living in wanton rebellion against Jesus.
The Word of God has some very sobering words about such wanton rebellion.
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-31).
Again, most professing Christians live wantonly rebellious and sinful lives because they refuse to obey Jesus’ command to proclaim the gospel. Most of those who do at least try to engage in evangelism discriminate in the process. That’s right. Many professing Christians use their preferred evangelism methodology to sinfully discriminate against people they deem less worthy than themselves or less than worthy to attend their churches.
“Friendship Evangelism,” as it is most commonly practiced, is an exercise in Christian bigotry.
Think about it. If your preferred method of evangelism is “Friendship Evangelism,” then with what kind of people do you try to develop friendships? They are people like yourself; people who look like you, talk like you, live in your neighborhood, have similar occupations or hobbies to your own.
I know this is true because I never see “friendship evangelists” at the North Hollywood Metro Station. I never see them in Pershing Square, near Skid Row. I never see them on Hollywood Boulevard. I never see them outside abortion clinics. I never see them in public parks or train stations. I never see them at the homeless missions. I never see them in predominantly LGBTQ communities. In fact, I never even see them in Starbucks.
“Friendship Evangelism,” as it is most commonly practiced, is the American Evangelical excuse to hold on to prejudices.
If you pick and choose what kind of people with whom you will try to establish relationships, and if the people you deem worthy of having a relationship with you are the only ones with whom you will communicate the gospel, then you don’t look anything like Jesus. You don’t look anything like the God-Man who engaged a person who couldn’t be more different than Himself—a Samaritan woman—a woman who would not be welcomed in the Jewish synagogue any more than a well-known prostitute would be welcomed to the front row of most American Evangelical churches or the Christian cliques sometimes called “home fellowships.” The so-called “empty chair” is not reserved in churches today for people like the Samaritan woman.
Jesus did not discriminate. He could not. He was and is the sinless Lamb of God. Jesus did not try to be like people who were not like Himself. He loved people who were nothing like Himself. Jesus intentionally walked through Samaria so that He could communicate life-saving truth to a societal pariah.
Having established rapport with a stranger, and having ignored all social convention so as not to be a bigot, Jesus engages the Samaritan woman in conversation.
The Engagement of Conversation
In sarcastically responding to Jesus’ audacity to engage her in conversation, the Samaritan woman completely missed the point of what Jesus was saying. Jesus told the woman she was not speaking to some mere, obscure Jewish Rabbi. He told her that if she had understood with whom she was speaking she would have asked Him for living water.
The conversation continues in verses 11-15.
“The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water’” (John 4:11-15).
The woman’s question to Jesus, comparing him to Jacob, was asked emphatically. In other words, she asked the question this way: “Come on! Surely, you’re not greater than our father Abraham, right?”
When the woman asked Jesus for this “living water,” she was still thinking temporally. She was still thinking about literal H2O. All she wanted from Jesus was to have her physical thirst quenched and to be freed from the laborious task of having to go back and forth to the well to fetch water.
Jesus continued to patiently engage her in conversation. He didn’t belittle her for her lack of understanding. Even though the woman was sarcastic, Jesus did not respond in kind. Here is God in the flesh talking to a depraved woman who was dead in her sin and bound for hell. Here is God engaging a creature—albeit created in His image, a creature nonetheless—in conversation.
Jesus perfectly knew her heart. He was under no moral or spiritual obligation to engage her in conversation. He could have called her straightaway to repent and believe. He could have said to her, “Unless you believe I am God in the flesh, you will die in your sins!” But he didn’t do that. He engaged her in conversation.
We are not omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient. We are not all-powerful, ever-present, or all-knowing. All the more reason for us to take time to engage people in conversation. All the more reason for us to remember that God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a reason—so that we can practice the biblical principles of being quick to listen and slow to speak.
Sometimes, Christians who regularly engage in evangelistic conversations with people, particularly strangers, can be so zealous to get to the point (to get to the gospel) that the person in front of them inadvertently becomes little more than a conquest—a notch in their spiritual belts. The Christian, wanting the person in front of him to come to genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (the ultimate and most noble of goals), forgets about the person to whom he is speaking and sees only the mission.
Look: there is nothing more loving you will ever do for another human being than warn them about God’s pending wrath against his sin and then point him to his only hope for salvation—the Lord Jesus Christ. But God has called us, commanded us to love the lost more than even the evangelization of the lost. We must love people even more than the winning of their souls.
If we don’t love people more than we love the evangelization of people than evangelism will become little more than a sport or hobby—a self-satisfying spiritual act of obedience, with nary a care for the person to whom you are communicating Christ. Again, there is nothing more loving you will do for a person than evangelize them. But if you don’t love the people you are evangelizing, even if you’re speaking the truth, you are nothing more than a noisy gong, a clanging symbol. You’ve gained nothing. You are nothing.
So, take the time (however much time it takes) to talk to people. Listen to them. Care about what they have to say. Care about who they are. Care about what they’ve been through or what they are going through. Empathize. Sympathize. Weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. Let the lost person in front of you see your appropriate, God-honoring love for him or her in your eyes. Let him or her hear your appropriate, God-honoring love for him or her in your voice.
Too often I have heard Christians complain after coming off the streets that they only had one conversation during their outings. Whenever I hear Christians talk this way, I’m quick to gently rebuke them. “That one conversation may have not meant enough to you, but it probably was important to the person with whom you spoke!”
I praise and thank God on those days when I have set out to communicate the gospel to hundreds or thousands and I return home with just one story to share with the family—the story of a conversation that may have lasted hours, with a lost person coming to understand his lost state and his need for the Savior.
Don’t be a robot. Don’t be a parrot. Don’t be a clinician. Don’t be a tactician. Be A Christian! Love your neighbor as yourself! Speak the truth in love while taking whatever time is needed to lovingly listen to the person in front of you. Don’t do drive-bys. Don’t do hit-and-runs. Fight for souls by taking whatever time necessary to listen and to speak the truth in love to the lost souls the Lord puts in your path.
Thus far we’ve considered the establishment of rapport, the end of discrimination, and the engagement of conversation. Let’s now consider the employment of the law.
The Employment of the Law
As we follow the apostle John’s account of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well, we now come to an abrupt change in direction. Jesus moves the conversation from different kinds of water (physical and spiritual) to confronting the woman about the besetting sin in her life.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet’” (John 4:16-19).
Now, let me be clear. If you are engaged in a conversation with a lost person, particularly a stranger, I do not recommend you transition the conversation to the law of God by accusing the person in front of you, of committing adultery. Making such a move is a good way to get slapped in the face or punched in the nose.
In this portion of the story, Jesus does not provide us with a script to follow, but rather a principle to employ.
Jesus, being the Creator of all things and perfectly knowing the hearts of every human being, could tell the woman, “Go get your husband.” To this point, the woman had spoken to Jesus with a sarcastic and self-righteous tone. Jesus confronts her with her habitual sin—the sin of adultery.
This was not a woman who experienced the misfortune of being widowed five times. Jesus telling her that He knew the man she was presently with was not her husband sets the context for all of her previous relationships. The woman was an adulteress.
The apostle Paul wrote the following to Timothy, his son in the faith:
“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted” (1 Timothy 1:8-11).
In speaking of the lawful use of the law in the life of the Christian, puritan John Gill wrote:
“For if it [the Law] is used in order to obtain life, righteousness, and salvation by the works of it, or by obedience to it, it is used unlawfully: for the law does not give life, nor can righteousness come by it; nor are, or can men be saved by the works of it; to use the law for such purposes, is to abuse it, as the false teachers did, and make that which is good in itself, and in its proper use, to do what is evil; namely, to obscure and frustrate the grace of God, and make null and void the sufferings and death of Christ. A lawful use of the law is to obey it, as in the hands of Christ, the King of saints, and lawgiver in his church, from a principle of love to him, in the exercise of faith on him, without any mercenary selfish views, without trusting to, or depending on, what is done in obedience to it, but with a view to the glory of God, to testify our subjection to Christ, and our gratitude to him for favours received from him.”
As Gill rightly said, no one is saved by keeping the Law. This is true because no sinful human being is capable of perfectly keeping God’s Law and has thus never been saved by keeping the Law. This is true because the Bible makes it abundantly clear that no one is saved by keeping the law. Salvation, a work entirely began and completed by God, is received by the sinner by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).
“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28).
“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God” (Romans 4:2).
“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
However, the Law has a different function in the life of an unbeliever. As one commentary puts it:
“In its lawful place in the Gospel economy, namely, not as a means of a “‘righteous man” attaining higher perfection than could be attained by the Gospel alone . . . which was the perverted use to which the false teachers put it, but as a means of awakening the sense of sin in the ungodly.”
The apostle Paul illustrated this truth in his letter to the Christians in Rome.
“What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Romans 7:7-12).
While the Law of God is NOT an aspect of the gospel, the Law of God has an important role to play in the communication of the gospel. Most human beings believe they are good people, even though the Word of God makes it abundantly clear that, according to God’s standard of moral perfection, NO ONE is good.
“As it is written:
‘None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.’
‘Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.’
‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’
‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’
‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.’
‘There is no fear of God before their eyes’” (Romans 3:10-18).
Bringing the Law of God to bear, holding it up in front of a person as a mirror and not using it as a club to smash atop a person’s head, allows the self-righteous, self-deceived person to see himself as God sees him—worthy of His wrath as the just punishment for his myriad sins against God.
During our time of training after our time of worship this morning, I will give examples for how to effectively use the Law of God in evangelism and why it is necessary.
The Establishment of Rapport (4:1-8); The End of Discrimination (4:9-10); The Engagement of Conversation (4:11-15); The Employment of the Law (4:16-19). Now, let’s consider the exercising of apologetics in evangelism.
The Explanation of the Gospel
Jesus confronts the woman with her sin—what she believed was her secret sin—but it didn’t seem to faze her much. She didn’t immediately drop to her knees and repent of her sin. She didn’t cry out, “Oh, Lord! What must I do to be saved?” The first thing to come to mind was the first thing to come out of her mouth. To Jesus, she said, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.”
How little the woman was fazed by Jesus’ revelation of her sin is evidenced by what she said next. Jesus responds to her with more truth.
“‘Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth’” (John 4:20-24).
And then this happened:
“The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he’” (John 4:25-26).
Marvin R. Vincent, in his classic work “Vincent’s Word Studies,” provides some interesting information regarding the depth of meaning behind the Samaritan woman’s words.
“The woman uses the Jewish name, which was known in Samaria. The Samaritans also expected the Messiah, basing their hopes on such Scriptures as Genesis 3:15; Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Deuteronomy 18:15. They looked for Him to restore the kingdom of Israel and to re-establish the worship on Gerizim, where they supposed that the tabernacle was hidden. They called Him Hushab or Hathab, meaning the Converter, or, according to some, the Returning One. The Samaritan idea was less worldly and political than the Jewish.”
Let’s quickly look at the four verses Vincent mentions in his commentary:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Genesis 49:10).
“I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
and break down all the sons of Sheth” (Numbers 24:17).
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen” (Deuteronomy 18:15).
The Samaritan woman speaks very emphatically in verse 25. She speaks with assurance that Messiah will come soon—ironically, much sooner than she realized. But hers was not yet a saving faith. She was, at this moment, religious and in love with her sin.
And then Jesus said to her, “Ἐγώ εἰμι, ὁ λαλῶν σοι.”
The ESV translates Jesus’ words as: “I who speak to you am he.”
The NIV translates Jesus’ words as: “I, the one speaking to you–I am he.”
The NASB translates Jesus’ words as: “I who speak to you am He.”
The KJV translates Jesus’ words as: “I that speak unto thee am he.”
The HCSB translates Jesus’ words as: “I am He,” Jesus told her, “the One speaking to you.” This is actually the closest translation to the original Greek text.
The most literal translation would read: “I am. Who is speaking to you.”
“Ἐγώ εἰμι.” “I am.”
The Samaritan woman, like any other Samaritan or Jewish person, understood exactly what Jesus said. Jesus’ words immediately took the woman back to this scene.
“Then Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you”’” (Exodus 3:13-14).
“Haw-yah a-sher Haw-yah.” “I am that I am.” Or, “I am who I am.”
These are the eight traditionally recognized “I am” statements made by Jesus in the Gospel of John.
John 6: 35, 48 I am the bread of life
John 8: 12, 9:5 I am the light of the world
John 8: 58 Before Abraham was, I am
John 10:9 I am the door
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd
John 11:25 I am the resurrection and the life
John 14:6 I am the way, the truth, and the life
John 15:1 I am the true vine
Jesus statement, here, in John 4:26, should be counted among the great “I am” statements.
Jesus made it abundantly clear to the woman at the well that the Messiah she and her people looked for was standing right in front of her. More than a prophet: Jesus, her Creator and her God was speaking to her.
Jesus IS the gospel! Jesus offered “living water,” eternal life. He then identified Himself as the Messiah—the One from whom eternal life flowed. Jesus said, “The Great I AM is the one who is speaking to you!”
What is the gospel?
The apostle Paul provides a very succinct representation of the gospel, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
What Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, along with what God has provided for mankind in the Law, the Psalms, the Prophets, the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Letters, and all of Scripture communicates that the only way a human being can be reconciled to his or her creator is to receive the gifts of repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness of sin by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
Jesus Christ is Lord.
He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He was with the Father in and at Creation. All things—all things—were created by Him, and through Him, and for Him. Nothing has ever been made that was not made by Jesus Christ. He is the sinless Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. He is also the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who will judge both the living and the dead. He is King of kings and Lord of Lords.
Jesus Christ is sovereign over all things. He owns every person, just as He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and it matters not if the person is living in wanton rebellion against Jesus Christ or is living in loving submission to Him as one of His born-again, beloved children. Jesus owns it all.
There is but one living and true God, an infinite, all knowing Spirit, perfect in all His attributes, one in essence, eternally existing in three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—each equally deserving worship and obedience.
And this God, for there is only one God, is the God before whom every person will one-day stand to give an account for their lives. Because God alone is truly and perfectly good, He will judge each person according to the perfect moral standard He has written on every human heart—His law.
Sin is the violation of God’s law.
Sin is rebellion against God.
Sin is any thought, word, or deed that does not proceed from faith in Jesus Christ.
Everyone who stands before God to give an account will do so without excuse. No one will be able to claim innocence or ignorance of violating God’s law—whether in thought, word, or deed. Because God is good, because He is holy, because He is righteous and just, He must punish sin. The punishment God has determined for sin, all sin, is eternity in Hell. It matters not whether a person believes this. What matters is that it is true.
Truth is not determined by what one believes. God is truth, though every person is found to be a liar.
Truth is that which comports to reality, as perceived by God. Truth is what conforms to the mind of God. Truth is whatever God says. And any attempt to live life apart from the reality of God is to live a life of chaos, absurdity, arrogant denial, and sin.
This same God—again, for there is only one God—who is angry with the wicked every day, whose wrath abides upon the ungodly, who will judge the world in righteousness, is the same God who is loving, merciful, gracious, and kind. And He showed His great love for mankind when He sent His Son to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ—fully God and fully Man, yet without sin.
Jesus of Nazareth, born of a virgin just as the prophet Isaiah declared more than 700 years before Jesus’s literal, physical birth, lived the perfect, sinless life you cannot live. For some 33 years, Jesus lived a life in perfect obedience to the law of God–in thought, word, and deed–a life you and I could not hope to live for a mere 33 seconds. And then He voluntarily went to the cross.
Yes, it was the Jewish people who hatefully and viciously demanded Jesus’s execution. Yes, it was the Roman government that carried out the despicable act. But they were all merely instruments in the hands of another. For it pleased God the Father to crush God the Son under the full weight and fury of His wrath against sin. God the Father made God the Son, who knew no sin, to become sin on behalf of those who repent and believe the gospel so that through the sacrifice of His Son many would be made righteous in the eyes of Almighty God.
In other words, on that great and terrible day God the Father looked upon God the Son as if He had lived the depraved life of a sinner and in exchange—a great exchange—God the Father looks upon those whom He has caused to be born again, to repent and believe the gospel, as if they had lived His Son’s perfect, precious, and priceless life.
Jesus shed His innocent blood on the cross. He died a literal, physical death on the cross. And He was buried in a tomb not His own. Three days later, Jesus forever defeated sin and death when He physically, bodily rose from the grave. And unlike every false god created in the imaginations of men–whether the false gods of Islam, Catholicism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oprah-ism, or Atheism (a religion like every other spiritual “ism”)—Jesus Christ is alive today and He will return at a time of the Father’s choosing.
What God commands of you, and all people everywhere, is that that you repent. Change your mind. Stop believing lies and believe the truth you know—the truth for which you are responsible and will be held accountable. Turn from your sin and turn toward God, and by faith alone receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
You must come to God on His terms. God does not negotiate with sinners. God will not be bribed by your religious practices or what you may perceive as “good works” acceptable to God. God will not weigh your “good” against your “bad,” for God does not see you or anyone else as good. God’s definition of, God’s standard for goodness is moral perfection, and only One has ever, only One will ever meet that standard. And that is Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the Messiah, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. As for you, as is the case for the rest of mankind, you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
If you do not hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and see it for what it is (good news), it is because you love your sin more than you love God. It is because you love yourself more than you love God. It is because the love of God and the Truth of His Word is not in you.
However, if God causes you to be born again and extends to you the gifts of repentance and faith, which only He can give, then He will take your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. You will begin to love the things God loves and hate the things God hates. You will stop presuming upon God’s forgiveness as if it is something you have earned or deserved. Instead, you will have the confident assurance He has forgiven you—not on the basis of any deeds you have done in righteousness, but based entirely upon God’s mercy, grace, and love, and for His glory.
Why would God allow His one and only Son to die a sinner’s death He did not deserve in order to take upon Himself the punishment sinners rightly deserve for their sins against God, so that sinners could be forgiven and saved? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
If you do not know with Holy Spirit-given assurance that God has saved you from you’re your sin and His wrath against sin, please repent and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, while God has given you time.
The Expectancy of Evangelism
In this historic scene, we’ve watched as Jesus established rapport with the Samaritan woman (4:1-8). We’ve watched Jesus cut the head off the snake of discrimination (4:9-10). We’ve watched as Jesus took the time to engage the Samaritan woman in conversation (4:11-15, 20-24). We’ve watched Jesus employ the Law, His Law, in evangelism (4:16-19). We’ve watched as Jesus, the Word Become Flesh, the Living Gospel, identifies Himself to the lowest of the low in society.
And lastly, we will briefly consider her response: the expectancy of evangelism.
“Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you seek?’ or, ‘Why are you talking with her?’ So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’ They went out of the town and were coming to him” John 4:27-30).
The woman at the well did not argue with Jesus. She did not accuse Him of blasphemy. She dropped what she was doing, ran to her village (a place where she was likely despised by most people), and said to whoever would listen: “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”
It’s important to note that the biblical text gives us no indication if the woman repented and believed when Jesus identified Himself. Biblical scholars are somewhat divided on what the woman meant when she asked the town’s people the question: “Can this be the Christ?” Did she ask as if to say, “Can this be the Christ? Is it really Him?” Or, did she ask as if to say, “Certainly, this is not the Christ, is He?” while holding onto hope it was true?
For this morning’s purposes, we’re going to give the woman the benefit of the doubt. Confronted with her sin by the Messiah, and then confronted with the reality that she was speaking to God in the Flesh, the woman believed and was saved.
And what was the first thing she did? Tell others!
We do what we care about, my friends. We cannot, with any integrity, assert that we love Jesus when we refuse to tell others about Him. We ought not have any assurance of salvation if we are afraid or embarrassed to talk about the One who saved us.
If you really know Jesus, you will want to make Him known to others. If you really love Jesus, out of the abundance of your heart your mouth will speak of Jesus. If you really love other people, all kinds of people, you will want them to receive the same forgiveness you’ve received. You will want them to be adopted into the same eternal family into which you’ve been adopted. You will want them to receive the same gift of eternal life, through faith in Jesus Christ, you’ve received.
You will deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Jesus.