Lesson 360 - Senior
"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" (John 4:14).
I A Universal Call to the Thirsty
1. The spiritual thirst of any individual will be satisfied freely, [ISA:55:1]; [MAT:5:6]; [JHN:4:14]; [REV:22:17].
2. An admonition is given to those who seek for reality in wrong channels, [ISA:55:2]; [ECC:11:9]; [LUK:12:15], [LUK:12:19-21].
3. A message is given, and a promise is made to those who heed God's call, [ISA:55:3]; [ROM:10:17]; [2TM:3:15]; [HEB:6:17-19]; [HEB:8:10] and [HEB:9:15] cf. [PS:89:3], [PS:89:27-35], [ACT:2:29-35] and [2SM:23:5].
4. Christ is promised as the Saviour of men, [ISA:55:4-5]; [LUK:19:10]; [MAT:18:11-14]; [MAT:1:21].
II The Steps from Sin to Salvation
1. The first step, "Seek ye the LORD," demonstrates the earnestness required of the true penitent, [ISA:55:6]; [LUK:11:10]; [DEU:4:29]; [JER:29:13].
2. The second step, "Call ye upon him," shows the need of prayer, [ISA:55:6]; [HOS:14:2]; [LUK:18:13-14]; [2CH:7:14].
3. The third step, "Let the wicked forsake his way," proves that he must forsake his sins, [ISA:55:7]; [PRO:28:13]; [EPH:4:21-23]; [EZE:33:14-16].
4. The fourth step, "Let him return unto the LORD" shows repentance is necessary, [ISA:55:7]; [JOE:2:13]; [PS:34:18]; [LUK:15:18-19].
5. The fifth step is God's gracious answer: mercy and pardon, [ISA:55:7]; [ROM:2:4]; [TIT:2:11-12]; [LUK:15:20].
III The Assurance of Salvation in God's Word
1. God's thoughts and ways are far above man's, [ISA:55:8-9]; [PS:8:1-9]; [PS:18:30]; [PS:40:5].
2. God's Word, like the rain, is sure to bring forth fruit, [ISA:55:10-11]; [1CO:3:6-7].
3. Great joy is given to those who find salvation, [ISA:55:12]; [ISA:12:3]; [PS:51:12]; [ROM:14:17]; [JHN:15:11]; [JHN:17:13].
4. A contrast is made between the godly and the ungodly, [ISA:55:13]; [PS:1:1-6].
Isaiah, the Prophet of God
The prophet of God, Isaiah, lived under four of Judah's kings. During the reign of Hezekiah, when the neglected worship of God was restored, there occurred a sweeping revival in the kingdom, and the people of the nation were turned toward God. This was near the end of Isaiah's life, and no doubt was a result of the lifetime ministry of this godly man. Isaiah, through the Holy Spirit's inspiration and leadership, has given us many insights into God's sublime and wonderful plan concerning the coming of Christ, the dispersion and the restoration of the nation of Israel, and the coming Millennial age.
It is very significant that, while the great bulk of Isaiah's prophetic message concerns Israel and God's dealings with them, there is much that is applicable to the Gentiles as well. Since the God of all is God to all, and since His Word will remain unaltered throughout all time; since God is always the same, never-changing in His attributes and perfections, not the least of which are His mercy and goodness; and since God's plan singled out the Chosen Nation, to bless and instruct them, that the whole world might be saved, it is not unreasonable to expect that His message, through the Prophet whom He could entrust with so much of His eternal Plan, would include men of all times and places.
The Law as given by Moses was a steppingstone in the upward and onward progression of the revelation of God's plan. The prophets were preachers, or expounders of the Law. The New Testament classifies prophets as preachers of the Word of God. To prophesy is to preach the Word of God. An individual who brings a message that is not in complete harmony with the Word of God is a false prophet, and his message is to be rejected by all who are godly [GAL:1:7-9]; [2JN:1:10-11).
The Universal Call of God
Here, in this chapter, we have a comprehensive statement of the Gospel Message. Here we can read that the Gospel is for all men -" rich and poor, educated and illiterate, liberated and oppressed. This message states that none are excluded, and none are omitted from its promises. These statements are as sweeping in their extent as the "whosoever will" of the final great consummation chapter of the Bible.
Let those who teach that God's salvation is for a selected few explain the fact that "every one that thirsteth" is invited to come and drink of the waters of life freely. Let those who distort God's Word in that way satisfy themselves, if they so choose, in their theory of a limited call by God. Those who desire the blessings of God more than any other thing can find comfort and assurance in the fact that "he that hath no money" can come, buy, and eat "without money and without price."
No further explanation is needed for these words. Those who want to explain them away may use volumes of argumentation to set forth their views, but God's simple yet universal call remains unchanged. That call is stated in those few, clear, and uncontradictable words. "Wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein" [ISA:35:8]).
The whole of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in all its beautiful fullness, is just that clear. It is just that simple, just that unquestionable, unimpeachable, and unchangeable. The heights of the Gospel Message have never been reached by mortal man; its depths will never be found on this side of the grave; the lengths and breadths of that message and its provisions can never be surveyed -" or even imagined. And yet that message is so simple that all we need to know concerning it, in order to make our peace with God, is easily comprehended.
Here, in this chapter, it is stated that there is a time in which we can seek God, implying that there is an end to that time. This also is in keeping with the teaching of our Lord and of the Apostles. God's day of mercy will come to an end and His day of judgment will begin, just as surely as there have been dawnings and endings to the natural days down through the history of this terrestrial sphere.
The Eternal God and His Covenant with Us
God is eternal in His being and attributes, and therefore His ways and thoughts are far above ours. We are earthy; He is eternal. God sees the heart of man, but we look at the outward appearance. God sees the intent behind an action or word, but we see the act or hear the word alone. God is originally, and always, perfect in holiness, but originally we are "carnal, sold under sin." God is not limited in any way, with the exception of the limitations He has imposed upon Himself in giving man the right to exercise his free will. We are limited, since we "see through a glass, darkly," and "know [only] in part." We know that God's salvation is sufficient for all, "to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him [Jesus]." And, because of God's supremacy and infallibility in all things, we can see that His salvation is wider and more embracing in its provisions than we can understand or comprehend.
If we will incline our ears and come to God, hear His gracious words, and receive His glorious promises, we can claim His promise concerning us: "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." Here is another sublime yet staggering statement that we can never -" this side of eternity -" realise in its fullness.
"I will make an everlasting covenant with you," Only an eternal God could make an everlasting covenant. The treaties of men or nations are of no value if the power to enforce or fulfill them is taken away. The wishes of man are valid only so long as he lives to make them effective, or only so long as those who succeed him feel obligated to carry them out. But God's promises will never fail, for God cannot lie and He will never pass away. He honours His Word above His name. His Word is forever settled in Heaven. And, to show that His intent and purpose toward us who bear His name and enlist in His cause will never change, He gave not only His Word in the matter but confirmed it with an oath. And "because he could swear by no greater, he swear by himself, . . . For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us" [HEB:6:13-18]).
Who, then, are these with whom God has made a covenant, set forth by His Word which, in itself, can never change, but which He has confirmed by an oath that was sworn to by Himself? Who of us are entitled to such consideration that the Almighty Creator would make guarantees for our present and eternal welfare, for which we can never pay Him or prove worthy? Who is there who can, on his own merits, stand before God to reason with Him or contend for rights or privileges that he desires?
Our lesson text shows us that these privileged individuals, heirs to the promises of the Covenant, are those whose hearts are hungering and thirsting for the waters of life and who are seeking for the satisfaction of that hunger and thirst in the right channels. They "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world"
([1JN:2:15]). On the other hand, these individuals are those who seek "first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" and therefore, see "all these things" added unto them (Mathew 6:33).
Are these favoured individuals entitled to these privileges? In their own right, no! Are they worthy of them? By virtue of their own accomplishments and attainments, heritages or birthrights, absolutely no! Are they sufficient, in any way whatsoever, to be able to stand before the Almighty God as one stands before a court of justice on this earth, to plead their cause before God? In no way whatever could they ever do this! What, then, is the basis by which these things are accomplished for these favoured people and these privileges granted to these privileged individuals? Only one thing: the mercy and love of God, who gave His Only Begotten to pay the penalty for our sins, our shortcomings, our neglects, and our human frailties, and to bridge the gulf between the Almighty Creator and the creature.
The Infinite Mercy and Love of an Eternal God
Here, then, we see infinite mercy and unlimited love manifested. God needs nothing that we have, that we are, or that we can do. We, by virtue of our own sinful choice, have gone our own way, neglecting Him, despising Him, and rejecting Him. Yet this merciful God has devised a plan for our rescue, our salvation, and our glorification. He has endowed us with a soul, which, by virtue of His own design, will never die. Since God does not change, and since he is perfect in all His ways, that soul which He has planted in man will not only never die, but can never do so. The soul who continues to neglect or reject God is doomed to eternal despair.
God is not willing that any should perish; and knowing from the very beginning the terrible cost that He would have to pay in order that even one might be redeemed, He willingly paid the cost of that redemption. Nothing but an infinite mercy and an unlimited love could devise a plan of that character, which was made operative so that those who had despised that mercy and love, but who repented of their sin and rebellion, could be rescued from their fate and made to sit in heavenly places -" which favour they could never merit or repay.
We, as humans, devise plans for the carrying out of our desires or our pleasures. Before we undertake the carrying out of these plans we sit down and thoroughly count the cost. Will we be able to finish the project? Will we be able to do so and still not endanger the other projects we have under consideration? Will the project in itself be beneficial to us or profitable to us in the way it is designed? All these and many other questions arise to be settled before we actually set forth on the work before us. And many times we are compelled, by necessity, to abandon one plan to guarantee success to another.
But with God the work of redemption was no afterthought or alternative because of the failure of a previous plan or procedure. God knew from the beginning the future course of events. He knew the things that would be necessary to bring about His desires concerning us. He knew the price that would have to be paid by His Son. But He never hesitated, even though the cost was an infinite one.
God made the Plan. The price was paid. He gave the invitation. Then He sent His Spirit to lead men to accept the Plan and receive His salvation. And He is carrying out every phase of that Plan for our eventual glorification.
He has said to us: "Seek ye the LORD . . . call ye upon him . . . let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
1. To whom is the invitation given that is found in the first verse of our lesson?
2. Memorise [1JN:2:15-17].
3. Why are we sure that God's plan of salvation will include us?
4. What did God do, in addition to giving us His Word, that guarantees us the privileges of His salvation?
5. Why do men swear by an oath? Why did God do so in this matter of our salvation?
6. Enumerate the steps to salvation.
7. The Scripture states: "By grace are ye saved through faith." What is grace? What is faith? How do we receive faith?
8. God's thoughts and ways are far above man's. Enumerate some of the things that prove this. How does this principle affect His plan of salvation?
9. Name some of the blessings that come to us through God's salvation.
10. Using Psalm 1 as a text, state the contrast between the godly and the ungodly.