Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Lesson in Evangelism (part 4) - John 4:15-19

“The woman said to Him,
‘Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty,
nor come all the way here to draw.’
He said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’
The woman answered and said,
‘I have no husband.’
Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, ‘I have no husband’;
for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have
is not your husband; this you have said truly.’
The woman said to Him,
‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.’”
(vs 15-19)

The Samaritan woman has paused to chat with Christ. She wasn't looking for a dialogue with deity but Jesus was seeking a Samaritan sinner this day and the pursuing Savior has constructed an incredibly tactful conversation starter. His topic has intrigued her. His demeanor has won her ear. His offer has peaked her curiosity. His statement of the eternal excellencies of His water has made her drool and she wants it. “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thristy, nor come all the way here to draw.”

No doubt this sounds like a good deal and she is all about taking advantage of it. But Christ is not through with this lost and wayward one. He has an important truth to teach her - repentance. The gifts of the gospel are free but they are not cheap. In a few years, the Lord Jesus will be paying a great price to set this woman (and us) free. While belief is the key upon which the door of salvation will open – repentance is the hinge that will show that it has.

Jesus is about to deal with the sinner’s sin and in that we learn fourthly that sin MUST be dealt with before any soul is truly converted. If we must be “saved” then certainly there is something amiss – something we must be saved from. That something is sin.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sin as “any want of conformity unto or transgression of, the law of God.” For this woman, one of the ways she has failed to conform and has transgressed God’s law is in regards to her relationships – marriage, divorce, adultery. We all suffer from “want of conformity unto and transgression of , the law of God.” We all have NOT done that which we ought and have done that which we shouldn't. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” There are no exceptions and that is why the Lamb of God had to come. He came to take away the sin of the world. If we never deal with and confront sin then we have never truly talked about the gospel.

Notice again the great tact of Jesus. When she asks for this living water He doesn’t look at her and say “What? Are you kidding me! You wicked woman! You adulterous wretch! You better turn or burn. Get right or get left. I know what you’ve done and who you are – repent you abominable sinner!!” Our Lord doesn’t enter into the bully pulpit nor does he begin to bash her on the head with all she’s done wrong. Instead He asks her another question – a question that draws out an acknowledgment of her sin. “Go call your husband.” The question graciously exposes her sin.

Ryle points out that from this point on she is different. The conversation, from her end changes. Perhaps because for the first time she is seeing herself for who she is. Suddenly there is a spiritual dimension to her talk. Here are Ryle’s words:

“Those heart-searching words, ‘Go, call thy husband,’ appear to have pierced her conscience like an arrow. From that moment, however ignorant, she speaks like an earnest, sincere inquirer after truth. And the reason is evident. She felt like her spiritual disease was discovered.

“To bring thoughtless people to this state of mind should be the principal aim of all teachers and ministers of the Gospel. They should carefully copy their Master’s example in this place. Till men and women are brought to feel their sinfulness and need, no real good is ever done to their souls. Till a sinner sees himself as God sees him, he will continue careless, trifling, and unmoved.

“By all means we must labor to convince the unconverted man of sin, to prick his conscience, to open his eyes, to show him himself. To this end we must expound the length and breadth of God’s holy law. To this end we must denounce every practice contrary to that law, however fashionable and customary. This is the only way to do good. Never does a man see any beauty in Christ as Savior, until he discovers that he is himself a lost and ruined sinner. Ignorance of sin is invariably attended by neglect of Christ.”

Wise words! May God grant us the grace to be full of tact in our approach, faithful in pointing our hearers to the mercy and the incomparableness of Christ and of His gifts, and unafraid of humbly driving them to see themselves as sinners in need of this glorious Savior.

In His glorious grace,

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