Friday, April 23, 2010

"The Water of Life"

According to the US Geological Survey, ninety-seven percent of our world’s water resources are comprised of salty ocean water. This water, though it can appear beautiful, does only a marginal job when used externally, and does positive harm when taken internally in any quantity. Significant intake of seawater results in cellular dehydration since the body must rob the cells of water in order to properly dilute the sudden rise in salt content. The result is that the one who consumes seawater soon feels thirstier than he was before he drank! If he continues to drink the substance, this process of dehydration damages the vital organs, including the brain (sometimes making people go crazy) and eventually causes the kidneys to become overwhelmed and shut down, resulting in death.

God characterizes the gospel as being like water. Jesus used this illustration with the woman at the well (John 4), and the book of Revelation exhorts, “whosoever will” to “take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17). So, the question is, of what water, or to put it in plain terms, of what gospel, are we to partake freely? If we take the gospel of popular Christianity (termed Babylon in Revelation 17), what will be the result? This “gospel” leaves its sincere partakers in a condition even worse than they were in prior to their “conversion.” Just as the drinking of seawater to quench thirst ultimately produces a deadly, state of toxic impurity in the body, the popular gospel produces a toxic, impure character by leading people to profess to be children of God, cleansed from sin, while continuing to live in transgression of His holy law.

In contrast to this “saltwater gospel,” the message of Christ our Righteousness, as revealed in the utterances of the Three Angels of Revelation 14:6-12, sets forth a gospel that combines a judicial verdict of acquittal for the world with the entire transformation of the character of the person who partakes freely. This message was given special emphasis through the writings of the Lord’s messenger, Ellen White, and also through Elders Waggoner and Jones in that crucial period of opportunity in the 1880s and 1890s. As we teach the Sabbath School Lesson this week, let us set before the people the pure, soft water of the message of justification by faith in light of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary!

--Skip Dodson

The following, by E. J. Waggoner, excerpted from the General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 24, 1899.

Some of you may soon pass Niagara Falls, and as you gaze you may wonder where all the water
that pours over that precipice comes from, and where it goes. Why is not the source exhausted, or
the earth overflowed? "All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from
whence the rivers come, thither they return again." Where do they come from? - The water
comes from away up yonder in the hills. Why doesn't it run dry? - Because it comes from the
heavens, in the clouds. The clouds drop down water abundantly; and it fills the earth, and then
flows forth. Where did the clouds get the water? - It evaporated from the earth, and they became
filled with water. Then the earth gave it to the clouds, and the clouds gave it to the earth. But
which originated it, - the earth or the clouds? You see that is just as far as any scientific textbook
takes us. But that is not satisfactory at all. Now read the true scientific answer: "Thou visitest the
earth, and waterest it; thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water; thou
preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof
abundantly; thou settlest the furrows thereof; thou makest it soft with showers."

Thank the Lord that the river of God is full of water, and never runs dry. It is always running. Do
you not see? The rain comes down from heaven, filters down from the river of God. You and I
have drunk from the rock, and have forgotten God the Rock. We have been drinking from the
life of God all our lives, and have not known it. We are just as bad as were the Israelites. They
were forty years in the wilderness, drinking from the fountain of life, from Christ, - spiritual
water; and there are men in the earth to-day who have been twice forty years drinking from that
same fountain, and have never given praise for it. Spiritual water will make a man spiritual when
he takes it as such; for it is the life of God. The Israelites did not take it by faith, and they died.
How near is the Lord, and how real are these things! yet we have been living in an unreal world.
The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal. That which
is for only a little while is the unreal thing. It is the unseen thing that will endure. Therefore we
want to get out of this unreal world, which exists for only these mortal eyes, to see and live in the
real, the unseen, world. Then we shall be able to see, to all eternity, things that wicked men can
never see.

We have a drink of water here, - living water. Where does it come from? - The throne of God,
where Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain, is. It flows from his heart. It is the blood of Christ, which
cleanses from all sin. The blood of Christ is a real thing…

Water is life, and it has life-giving powers. The River Seine receives all the sewage of the city of
Paris. No small amount of filth goes into that river every day; yet the water of life is powerful
enough to cleanse all the filth of Paris. It can do that, and here is the evidence: all the refuse,
waste, filth - the sewage of every sort of that vast city - go into the River Seine; but forty miles
below, there is not a trace of impurity. The water is just as pure, sparkling, and life-giving as any
water in the world. It is running, living water…

This marvelous property is just the same as that of the air. You want to get away from dead,
stagnant air; the wind begins to blow, and it becomes fresh. We say, "What a fine thing this wind
is! It will blow away the disease germs, and will purify everything." O, the life swallows up
death! We all come, putting death into this great ocean of life, which swallows it up, so that we
live. All about us is death, disease; and it is swallowed up by the air, and we live. The filth is
brought into the living water; it flows, and men say it works itself pure. That is as well as we can
express it. But whence comes that water - the River Seine, or any other river? - From the throne
of God. It is living, flowing water, and the fact that water gives life to us when we drink it; the
fact that water refreshes our bodies when we put it upon them; the fact that water has wonderful
healing properties, not only when we take it within us, but when we put it upon our bodies; the
fact that water cleanses the impurities from our bodies when we take it in, washing all the
tissues; the fact that water cleanses that which is put into it, and divides it from its death-dealing
properties, so that we may take the same water, and it gives life to us, - all these facts speak to all
of the marvelous cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ…

When we get over into the new earth, we shall all see the river of life. We must see it now,
because you and I will never get over there to see it if we do not see it before we get there. It is
the Spirit of God, and we are to be filled with it; so that, as I said this afternoon, the food we eat
is spiritual food.

Now we are not yet over in the new earth; but, thank the Lord, if any man be in Christ, he is a
new creature; old things are passed away, and all things are become new. So now when we see
this very stream of water we are coming to, it will lead us direct to the throne of God, and we
shall drink from the fountain of life, and our souls will live.

Let us rejoice in this; let us drink; let us get our souls full. O, who would forsake the water that
flows from the mountain, clear and sparkling, for water that is standing in a puddle? Would you?
You have done it. I, also. We have hewed out a broken cistern, and wanted to keep the water
there; but when God has given us his own life, and it flows throughout the universe, who would
take a substitute? who would mingle something with it that is inferior to it? Can we not take the
health reform, and preach it? It is the gospel of life. Just take it, rejoice in it, and be glad of it.
Take it in its fulness, and we will drink of the River of Eden.

O, I thank the Lord for the refreshing showers. You sometimes sing: "Lord I hear of showers of
blessings, Thou art scattering full and free, Showers the thirsty land refreshing, Let some drops
now fall on me:"

But don't ever sing it that way again. The idea that when God is scattering showers full and free,
you would ask for a drop or two! Get out under the heavens, where the rain is falling; let the
water sift down over you, and take in the showers: "For the earth which drinketh in the rain that
cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth
blessing from God." Let us drink in the water every day. Then we are living in the presence of
God. Ah, we shall not worry about the time when we shall see him! We see him now; we live in
his presence now, and there will be no trouble about the coming of the Lord. We shall love his
coming; for we shall love to be with him all the time. It is a blessed thing to dwell in the presence
of the Lord. "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

Sabbath School Today