2623. How Faith Comes

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No. 2623-45:241. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, February 2, 1882, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, May 21, 1899.

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in him for the saying of the woman, who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans were come to him, they besought him that he would stay with them: and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his own word; and said to the woman, “Now we do not believe because of your saying: for we have heard him for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” {Joh 4:39-42}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1053, “Testimony and Experience” 1044}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2623, “How Faith Comes” 2624}
   Exposition on Joh 4:1-39 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3135, “Golden Sentence, A” 3136 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 4:1-42 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2277, “Sychar’s Sinner Saved” 2278 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Joh 4:1-42 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2623, “How Faith Comes” 2624 @@ "Exposition"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Joh 4:40"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Joh 4:41"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Joh 4:42"}

1. Wherever faith exists, it is the gift of God. It is a plant that never sprang up spontaneously from the soil of corrupt human nature. Whether it is little faith or great faith, it is equally of divine origin; and wherever it is found, — whether in the child of pious parents who was brought up with the utmost care, or in one who has lived all the former part of his life in the vilest sin, — it is equally and alike the fruit of the Spirit and the effect of God’s grace. From this fact I gather great encouragement, because, if it needs divine power to implant faith in the heart that looks more favourable, it needs no more to implant and preserve it in the soul that appears most unprepared to receive it. Casting our eye over the whole map of Palestine, we might have said that probably Samaria was as unlikely a place as any in the entire country in which we might expect to find followers of the Lord Jesus; for, at the very threshold of Christ’s announcing himself there would be found this prejudice, that the Samaritans would not believe in a Jew. They would not even listen to a Jew; for, while the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans, the Samaritans reciprocated the feeling, and had no dealings with the Jews. Yet it was among the Samaritans, the members of the mongrel faith into which Judaism had deteriorated, that Christ was to find a large number of his followers. My brethren, you will be wise to go first to those places where there seems to be the least likelihood of conversions. You will often find that God does not judge as man judges. “Man looks on the outward appearance”; but God, who reads the hearts of men, can see a certain readiness where we consider that there is the most unreadiness. The Lord knows that the soil, where the seed of the kingdom is sown, may be in the best condition for fruitfulness even when we imagine that it cannot possibly yield us any return for our labour. If faith is the work of God, — a supernatural thing, — as it certainly is; what have you and I to do with judging according to natural appearances? You may go and speak, my brother, feeble as you feel yourself to be, for the seed owes very little indeed to the hand that sows it; and you may go, my brother or my sister, and scatter this precious seed on what you may regard as waste soil, for the seed owes very little, after all, to the soil. God can make it spring up like a root out of a dry ground, and, as of old he brought water out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock, so he can bring a harvest for his glory where everything seems utterly barren. If it is God’s work, let us have no doubts, much less any despondencies, concerning it; but let us continue to put ourselves into his hand, so that he may use us anywhere that he pleases, for we do not know where he will most glorify his name through our feeble instrumentality.

2. I am going to talk about faith, — faith as it came to these Samaritans; and we shall notice, first, faith’s annunciation:“ Now we believe”; secondly, faith’s nativity, — where it is born; thirdly, faith’s upbringing, — faith’s Nazareth, — for, according to the text, it grows and takes higher ground as it develops: “Now we believe, not because of your saying: for we have heard him for ourselves.” I give these names to my three divisions in order to assist your memories.

3. I. First, then, I call your attention to FAITH’S ANNUNCIATION. Here we have it, in the 42nd verse: “we believe.”

4. Genuine faith may, through timidity, be hidden for a little while; or, possibly, the love of carnal ease may lead some to conceal their faith in Christ; but it is of the very nature of faith that it should make its appearance known and felt. Just as Christ had what our Church of England friends call his Epiphany, when he was revealed to men, so faith, though it may for a while be swaddled, and laid in a manger, and kept in a stable, must have its debut, it must have its manifestation, and men must see it. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea managed, for three years or so, to conceal their faith to a great degree. Every now and then, the light would burn a hole through the bushel, for they could not quite hide the fire that was within them; but when Jesus died, then the thoughts of many hearts were revealed, and both these men stood out in the clear light of day as his affirmed disciples. They could not help it; the occasion had come when their faith must be revealed, and they must by their actions say, “Now we believe.” Our Lord has always put, side by side with the faith that saves, the duty of confession of that faith. His own words are, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” And Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, wrote, “If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.” Christ does not love a tongue-tied faith; he would not have faith dumb, but would always have her speak to the glorifying of her Lord on whom she depends. So these Samaritans, when they had come to believe in Jesus, must confess their faith, and they did so by saying, “Now we believe.”

5. Possibly, dear friends, they felt a little difficulty — I suppose that it was very little in their case, — in saying, “Now we believe,” because they had previously undergone a period of doubt. Evidently these people did not receive the woman’s testimony, although others had done so. They listened to it, and were sufficiently moved by it to go out and see the Teacher of whom she spoke; but they were not brought to faith by it. Perhaps, they even battled with her, and raised questions; I will not say quibbles; — but, at last, to her great joy, they said to her, “ ‘Now we believe’; we have gotten out of all the muddle and confusion in which we were; we have left the darkness, and the doubt, and the difficulty; and ‘now we believe.’ ” Are there any of you, dear friends, who have been amusing yourselves for years with the notion that you were infidels? Have you tried to make up in your own minds a kind of belief that you were “agnostics?” I think that is the favourite word for those who are proud of being know-nothings or ignoramuses. Have you tried to bolster up in your mind the idea that you were something very wonderful in the form of a sceptical person, — all the while, I do not doubt, believing a great deal more than you liked to admit, — believing and trembling all the time? But have you played that foolish game out, and have you now truly trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your own Saviour? If so, then do not be ashamed to say, “Now I believe.” You will have to eat your own words; well, then, eat them. You will have to be very humble when you meet your old friends; well, then, be humble; there will be no harm to you in that. And, perhaps, they will bring against you some of your own arguments. Well, it will serve you right if they do; and, besides, it will give you the pleasure of breaking those arguments to pieces, and perhaps of winning your friends for Christ, for you have seen those fallacies broken in your own case, and you may be the means, in the hand of God, of breaking the bow and cutting the spear asunder in the case of those who have been your fellow doubters. Do not be ashamed of confessing your past folly. I think a man who says, “I was wrong,” really in effect says, “I am a little wiser today than I was yesterday.” But he who never admits that he has made a mistake, and who claims that he has always been in the right, has evidently never made much growth in knowledge of himself. So, do not be ashamed to say, “Now I believe,” though that confession may have been preceded by many a doubt.

6. And do not hesitate to say it to the person who has so far been baffled by you. I expect the tears were in that poor woman’s eyes when she said to the men, “You remember what kind of person I used to be, and you see the change that has been accomplished in me. You know that I always spoke straight out what I believed, and this blessed Man, who read my very soul, is the Christ; I know that he is. Then, why do you not believe what I say about him?” I should not wonder if she pleaded very hard with them, and prayed, and entreated them to believe her testimony; and now, at last, when they did believe, it was due to her that they should cheer her heart by saying, “Now we believe”; and, even though they had to add, “not because of your saying,” that qualification would not grieve her. “Oh!” she would say, “as long as you do believe, I do not mind how you came into that happy condition. I should have been glad if God had used my saying to bring you to faith; but, inasmuch as he blessed the saying of the great Preacher, the Lord and Master himself, I am all the more glad on that account, for he will have all the glory for it, and, as long as you only believe, you give gladness to my heart.”

7. There are some of you, dear friends, to whom I have preached in vain for a long while; and God knows that, when I have been laid aside, I have often felt a holy joy in my heart at the thought that the man who has been preaching for me will be blessed by God to some who have never been converted under my ministry. Sometimes, when I have longed to be fishing for souls, but could not even stand, and therefore had to lie at home in pain, it has been my hope that some other fisherman would throw the fly better than I might have done, and that you would take the bait from him, though you have often refused it from me. And when you come forward to join the church, and say to me, as many have done, “Sir, we believe; but it was through Fullerton and Smith’s mission,” or, “it was through the teaching in the Sunday School,” or, “it was through the agency of someone who spoke to us in the aisle,” I am sure that I have been just as glad and happy as if you had told me that it was by my own personal testimony that you had found the Lord. I am glad indeed to be the instrument of saving souls; but, still, if you are saved, the instrumentality by which that blessed result is reached is, after all, a very little matter. Only, when you do really believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, take care that you tell us, for we have wept over you, and prayed for you; and when you are converted, it seems only a fair and honest reward that you should say to the individual whom God has honoured to be your spiritual parent, “Now we believe.” By doing so, you will strengthen and encourage him to go on with his work more earnestly than before. Perhaps you will even stave off a heart-break, and make the Christian sower fill his hand all the fuller, and scatter the seed all the more deftly, because he knows that he has not laboured in vain, nor spent his strength for nothing.

8. In this annunciation of faith, I want you also to observe that it was very speedy. The Lord Jesus Christ was only in that place for two days, so that those who said, “Now we believe,” must have testified very speedily after they believed. I do not think that it is the duty of people to wait several months before they come forward and confess Christ; it may sometimes be the wisdom of the officers and members of the church to say to some people, “We should like to see a little of your life, that we may judge by your fruit, before we receive you into fellowship.” It may even be their duty to say that, and to keep them waiting outside the church for a while to test their genuineness; but it is not the duty of the candidate himself. His business is, as speedily as may be convenient after he has believed in Jesus, to confess his faith, and to seek to be baptized, and added to the church. You do not find Paul waiting several months, after he was converted, before he was baptized. You see, in Scripture, no trace of what our old people in the country used to practise, namely, “summering and wintering” converts, to see what they were like, before they permitted them to make a confession of their faith in Jesus. No, no; if you have believed in him, come along with you. The next step is to say so, and to say it as quickly as you ever can, “Now we believe.” If tonight you are brought to faith in Jesus Christ, I would say to you, seek out some Christian brother, and tell him at once that you have believed in Jesus. When this precious child of the Spirit of God, namely, faith, is born, let it be known to the King’s house that it has come; they make such blessed news known in heaven, for “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Though it is only the initial stage of faith, do not hold the glad news back from the Church of God, but let it be speedily proclaimed, “Now we believe.” What a joyful moment happens when any can say, “Now we believe!” It is the end of suspense; it is the end of the kingdom of darkness; it is the end of fear; it is the end of despair; it is the dawn of hope; it is the dawn of heaven. Oh, what a world of meaning there is in those three words! What glory is opened up to the poor tearful eye by faith! What sights are visible when we can say, “Now we believe!”

9. Oh my dear hearers, can you all say, “Now we believe?” If you can do so truthfully, you can say a greater thing than Cicero or Demosthenes, {a} with all their eloquence, ever uttered. Have you been seekers for months and years? Have you been tempest-tossed, and driven up and down on the sea of doubt? May you now lower your anchor down into the depths of Jehovah’s love; and when you find that it holds, may you cry out, with ecstasy, “Now we believe!” There, then, is the annunciation of faith.

10. II. Now, very briefly, I want you to look, in the second place, on FAITH’S NATIVITY. How does faith come into men’s hearts at all?

11. According to the plain teaching of Scripture, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” But faith is not always created in the human heart by the same form of instrumentality. It is always the fruit of the Spirit of God, but it comes in different ways. Some of these Samaritans believed because of the saying of the woman; and I suppose that, in the Christian Church, a very large number derive their faith through the power of God’s Spirit, from the personal witness of others who have been converted. Now look, dear friends, all of you at this woman, and be encouraged to use your personal testimony for Christ. She was the spiritual mother of many a Samaritan believer, yet she was a woman of bad character. A foul savour was about her name; everyone in Sychar must have looked at her as a dangerous person, of fickle love and of foul ways; and yet, after she had found Christ, she did not hesitate to tell her neighbours about him, and God did not refuse to bless her testimony. I believe that there are thousands of people, whom no man would ordain, but who are ordained by God, for all that; and there are many whom we should say that the Church could not employ, whom the great Head of the Church employs, and often employs, too. What if you have been converted from great sin? Be careful and watchful that you sin no more, lest a worse thing happens to you; but do not let shame, with regard to the past, make you ashamed to confess the Christ of the present, and to admit that he has performed a great work in you. Here was a poor fallen woman, and yet, after her conversion, she became a missionary of Christ to the city of Sychar. She was quite an unofficial person altogether; she does not appear to have been called a sister of mercy, or to have put on any special garb; but she immediately ran to the people with whom she had lived, and perhaps to the very men with whom she had sinned. She went to tell the story that Christ had come to her, and had given to her that living water, of which, if a man shall drink, he shall never thirst again. Well, believer, if no man sends you, go all the same, for God sends you. Perhaps no man has laid his hands on you; but of what use is the laying on of hands? Very often, I fear it is only empty hands laid on empty heads; so, if no man has laid his hands on you, go without the laying on of hands, in the name of him who has laid his pierced hand on you, and said to you, “Do not fear; for I am with you: do not be dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.”

12. If you say, “What shall be my message?” let your message be your own personal testimony, what you yourself have seen, and heard, and tasted, and handled, and felt of the good Word of God. I do not suppose that this woman arranged her discourse under three points, or that she had an introduction and a conclusion, and all that; but she just went to the men of the city, and said, “Come, see a man, who told me all things that I ever did: is this not the Christ?” That was her little sermon; and she repeated it very often, over and over again she spoke out, and bore her personal testimony, and so she brought the men of Sychar to Christ. “Go home,” said Christ to one whom he had healed, “go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and has had compassion on you.” It is amazing how attractive a personal narrative is. If you begin to explain to some people the doctrines of the gospel, your audience will diminish one by one; but tell them your own experience of the power of Christ, and they will listen as the wedding guest listened when “the ancient mariner” {b} laid his hand on him, and detained him, and told him that strange legend of the sea. You will have attentive hearers when you speak about your own dealings with Christ, the wonders that Christ has accomplished in you and for you, and of which you can testify because they are your own experience. That is, in many a case, the nativity of faith. The mother tells her child, the husband tells his wife, the brother tells his sister; more often still, the sister tells her brother. One man communicates it to his fellow workmen; a gentleman speaks of it in the drawing-room to those of his own class; and so faith is born in other hearts as the result of the personal testimony of believers.

13. But, dear friends, there are some people who do not seem as if they ever would be converted by that means. Personal testimony evidently fails with them, as it did with some of these Samaritans. What then remains? Why, it will suffice if personal testimony leads the way, and arouses attention to the subject. Then, if the man is wise, he asks for time and thought; and our Lord Jesus is always ready to attend to those who are anxious about spiritual matters, but are not quick to believe. He remained for two days in Sychar, and those unbelievers who were candid sat at his feet, and heard him through the two days. Now, what did Jesus preach during those two days? Turn to your New Testaments, and find the sermon. Even though you look very carefully, you will not discover it, for it is not there; and it is a very curious thing that, when the woman preached, we have notes of her sermon; but when Christ preached, we are not told what he said. It is very remarkable that, frequently, we have those discourses of Christ which did not convert anyone, and we do not have those discourses which did convert people. Why is that? I suppose that the Holy Spirit gives us the discourses which were rejected in order to let us see that there was no fault in the sermon, but that the fault was in the people; but as for those that were received, he simply tells us the result, and does not state the particular form of the discourse. I would infinitely rather preach sermons that win souls, and are then forgotten, than go on preaching and having my discourses printed from week to week, and hear of no result from it. Happily, I do not have to choose either alternative; but these people, who were not persuaded to believe by the witness of the woman, were converted through hearing Christ himself.

14. “Well,” one says, “but we cannot personally come to Christ now.” No, I know that you cannot; but you can do what is very much like it. I recommend every man who finds faith to be a difficult thing, to carefully read through the four Gospels, asking the Holy Spirit to enable him to believe what is recorded and revealed there. I usually find that the greatest doubters are the people who do not read the Bible. Holy Scripture has within itself a mighty convincing power; and when men lie soaking in it, it soon penetrates into their very souls. A man says, “I cannot believe”; and yet he does not read or hear about the very thing that is to be believed. He keeps out of the way of it, and yet says, “I cannot believe it.” If there is something in the newspaper today, about which you felt compelled to say, “Other people seem to believe it; but, somehow, I am unable to do so; I should be very glad to believe it, but I cannot”; what would you do? You would read the statement again; you would refer to any other account that would be likely to confirm it; you would candidly examine the whole affair to see whether it was true or not. Yet how few — how very, very few — have come to Holy Scripture itself, and virtually listened to Jesus himself, and then have gone away and still said, “We do not believe.” Unless they are really given up to hardness of heart, the result, in every case, seems to be that, when they search the Scriptures, and seek to know what Christ did and said, they are soon subdued by his sweet power, and are found sitting at his feet, believing in his name. If anyone has not done this, and still remains an unbeliever, I charge his unbelief on himself as his own fault and sin, If I will not examine the evidence, I am to blame if I do not believe the truth.

15. Do you ask, “What evidence shall I examine?” I say again, examine the documents themselves; let Christ speak for himself. “Had I not better read a ‘Life of Christ’?” Listen: there is no “Life of Christ” extant but the one written by the four evangelists. All the attempts that have been made at lives of Christ, whatever value they may have, are not biographies of Christ. They are someone’s idea of what he may have been. We need no other “Life of Christ” than the fourfold one given to us in the Gospels. Those inspired evangelists have told us all we ought to wish to know; and if you read those Books, — not men’s books which have been written on those Books, — I believe that, through the blessing of God the Holy Spirit, you will yet be able to say, with these Samaritans, “Now we believe.” May God grant that it may be so! It is in this way that faith is often born. Holy Scripture is the Bethlehem of faith. There is this blessed child born; and happy are those who take it, and nurse it, so that it may grow.

16. III. This is our last point, FAITH’S UPBRINGING; or, as I called it, “faith’s Nazareth.”

17. It is possible that there were some of the Samaritans who believed, and who, when they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of your saying, for we have heard him for ourselves,” meant that they did, at first, believe because of the woman’s saying, but, after a while, they outgrew that first stage of faith, and they came to believe in Jesus even more strongly because they had heard him themselves.

18. This was a higher form of faith. The beginnings of faith are like a spider’s web. It would be difficult to say how little a thing faith may be at first. I do not doubt that many believe the Bible because they were always taught by their parents that it is the Word of God; although they have never thoroughly examined that question for themselves. Some have believed the truth, at first, because their minister preached it. Well, I would not discourage even that form of faith, for it may be like a very tiny thread which may be fastened to a string, and the string may be tied to a rope, and the rope be attached to a cable; and so, at last, the shipwrecked mariner may be saved from drowning. Anything that links men to Christ may, nevertheless, be overruled by God for their salvation. When that woman said, concerning our Lord, “If I may only touch his clothes, I shall be made whole,” I fear that there was some superstition in the notion; but, nevertheless, Christ overlooked that, and, seeing the real faith that lay hidden underneath, took care that it should live. Do not discourage anything that tends towards faith in Christ; but it is a grand thing when men grow, by God’s grace, until they can say, “Now I do not believe simply because of what my dear mother taught me; I do not believe merely because of what my minister preached; I do not believe because of any human being at all; but I believe because I have heard Christ for myself, I have had personal dealings with him; and, now, ‘I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed to him against that day.’ ”

19. The faith that sprang from Christ’s own testimony would also be much more vivid faith. The other day, there was a meeting held to protest against the barbarities inflicted on our Jewish brethren. All the speakers spoke very strongly; but if any one of you had seen what has been done, and had come fresh from the deeds of blood, I warrant that you would have spoken very intensely indeed. Your indignation would have flamed fiercely if you had seen the homes of the people burned down, and men murdered and women ravished, for the sight of the cruelties and abominations would have affected you far more than merely hearing about them. So, when faith gets to deal with Christ for herself, — when she sees sin forgiven, — when she feels the weight taken from her troubles, — when she experienced the great possessions of joy which Christ has given to her, — to her herself, — then she becomes much more vivid and truly living than the faith that rests simply on the testimony of others.

20. And, beloved, as our faith becomes more vivid, so also it becomes more independent. We need more independent Christian people in the present day. I hope that we are growing a race of them here; and I pray that we may grow far more of them. I have seen young people, and, for that matter, old people, too, behave excellently, and seem to be admirable Christians while they have lived here in the midst of other warm-hearted believers; but they have gone down into the country to live, and it has been very grievous to see how cold-hearted they have become, — how some of them have even at last forsaken the assemblies of God’s house; and, if they have not utterly turned aside, yet they have been very different from their former selves. Beloved, if you have seen Christ yourself, and are truly one with him, you will live with him when all Christian association is withdrawn. Look at many of the houses in our London streets. If a giant were to pull one of them out of the middle of the row, they would all come tumbling down, they only stand because they lean on each other. But Christians should be detached houses; — no, semi-detached, — for they must be attached to Christ; — but they ought to stand by themselves, apart from men, because of their living faith in him.

21. This kind of faith has grown beyond what was at first exercised, and it has become broader. If you will kindly look at the chapter, you will notice that all the woman could tell the men was this, “Come, see a man, who told me all things that I ever did: is this not the Christ?” But these men had learned more than that, for they had listened to Jesus himself. They wondered, at first, that he, being a Jew, should care for them; but, eventually, it flashed into their mind that he had not come to be the Saviour of Jews alone; so they said, “We have heard him for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” Oh, that was grand, broad faith, when they saw that this Christ was not the Jews’ Christ alone, but the Christ of the Samaritans, — the Christ of the Gentiles, too, — the Saviour of sinners all over the world! May your faith and mine, dear friends, grow broad! May we believe for others! May we hope for others! May we expect to see God’s salvation extending even to the ends of the earth; and, moved by this faith, may we be stirred up to go out and find the lost sheep, so that we may bring them to the great Shepherd, that he may fold them in safety by his tender care! Let us be so much with Christ that we may catch his spirit, and that our faith may grow greatly, and our love for all the saints be increased.

22. May the Lord give his blessing, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

{a} Demosthenes (384-322 BC) was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demosthenes" {b} The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge written in 1797-1798. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rime_of_the_Ancient_Mariner"

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Joh 4:1-42}

1-6. When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus himself did not baptize, but his disciples,) he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. And he needed to go through Samaria. Then he comes to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

Do not be surprised, dear brethren, if you sometimes grow weary in the Lord’s work. I trust that, even then, you will not be weary of it, but that you will believe that your blessed Master can still use even his tired servants, and bless their labours. The Lord Jesus Christ accomplished great marvels even when he sat wearily on the brink of Jacob’s well; and you, perhaps, are at this moment as fatigued and worn out as you well can be; yet, will you not awaken all the energies of your soul if you should see an opportunity for doing good, even if it should be to some poor fallen woman, as in the case mentioned here? It is a blessed thing never to be too tired to pray, and never to be too tired to speak to an anxious enquirer.

7. There comes a woman of Samaria to draw water:

Providence was at work so that, when Christ reached the well, this woman was on her way there. It was very late in the day for anyone to go to draw water; but, probably, the other women, who went to the well early in the morning, were not willing to associate with her, so she had to go by herself. Late as she was, however, she was all in good time, for she reached the place just when Christ was waiting to bless her.

7, 8. Jesus says to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples were gone away to the city to buy food.)

Or else they might have drawn water from the well to refresh him.

9, 10. Then the woman of Samaria says to him, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask for a drink from me, who am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink’; you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

See the deadly mischief of ignorance concerning spiritual things. If she had known, she would have asked, and Christ would have given; but the first link was missing; and, hence, the rest of the chain was not drawn on. Sometimes, all that people need is a little wise instruction, and then they will trust the Saviour; may God grant that we may always be ready to give it! Alas! there are some who need much more than that; but Christ could truly say to this Samaritan woman, “If you had known, you would have asked, and I would have given.” Oh dear hearers, do not perish through ignorance! You have your Bibles; then, search them. You have a gospel ministry among you; take care that you give diligent heed to what you hear from the servants of the Lord.

11. The woman says to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from where then do you get that living water?

Christ told the woman that he could give her living water, but it puzzled her to know how he could get at it. The well where they had met was deep, and he had nothing to draw the water out of it; how, then, could he go even deeper to get the living water of which he had spoken? She could not understand his simile, and to this day it is the same with many of our hearers. The simplest language of God’s ministers goes right over the heads of the people; they take our words literally, when they ought to see that they are spiritual, and, on the other hand, I have known them to spirit them away when they ought to be accepted literally. Such is the perversity of man’s mind that, often, he will not understand the truth.

12-14. Are you greater than our forefather Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his children, and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks from this water shall thirst again: but whoever drinks from 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.”

These words present the wonderful nature of divine grace. They certainly greatly err who suppose that we can ever receive it, and yet, after all, be left to perish without it. No; but when it is once imparted to us, it continues to spring up within us, like a well that never runs dry. It is the living and incorruptible seed, “which lives and endures for ever.” It is of the very nature and essence of the grace of God that it is indestructible, it cannot be taken away from the heart in which it has been implanted by the Holy Spirit.

15. The woman says to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I do not thirst, neither come here to draw.”

This was an ignorant prayer on the part of the woman; but it is one which I would commend to every enlightened soul: “Sir, give me this water.” Do you want a form of prayer? Here is one for you: “Sir,” — Lord, — “give me this water.” The Lord is ready to hear that petition, and to give this precious living water even now.

16, 17. Jesus says to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”

The Lord Jesus knew all about her character, and here he touched the weakest point in it. His plainest teaching had so far missed the mark, for he had not reached her conscience; but he was about to do so.

17, 18. Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband’: for you have had five husbands; and he whom you now have is not your husband: in that you said truly.”

You can imagine her astonishment — her blank amazement as the secret story of her life was repeated to her like this.

19. The woman says to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.

It would have been a sign of better things if she had said, “Lord, I perceive that I am a sinner”; but that confession had to be made a little farther on. How apt people are rather to think about the preacher than about themselves! If half the criticisms which are passed on ministers of Christ were bestowed on the hearers themselves, how much sooner might they receive the blessing they need! The woman then asked our Lord a question about religion which was strangely out of place from such a woman as she was. Yet, often, those who have least morality will have the most ceremonialism and concern about the externals of worship.

20. Our forefathers worshipped in this mountain; —

This Mount Gerizim; —

20. And you say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”

This she thought was a very important matter.

21. Jesus says to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

“There shall be an abolition of all especially holy shrines, for all places shall be equally holy. There shall be a putting an end to all your traditions, and your forms of worship, for God shall be worshipped in another way than what is merely formal and superficial.”

22-26. You do not know what you worship: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” The woman says to him, “I know that Messiah comes, who is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.” Jesus says to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

That majestic word of Christ carried conviction with it; the woman believed it then and there.

27, 28. And at this point his disciples came, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why do you talk with her?” The woman then left her water-pot, —

She was too glad, too happy, to remember so poor a thing as a water-pot. It was much to her before, but very little now. As one who finds a precious pearl forgets some trifle that he carried in his hand, so she “left her water-pot,” —

28, 29. And went her way into the city, and says to the men, “Come, see a man, who told me all things that I ever did: is this not the Christ?”

Her notion was, that when Christ came, he would tell all things. Here was a man who revealed her innermost secrets; — was he not the Christ?

30-32. Then they went out of the city, and came to him. In the mean while his disciples urged him, saying, “Master, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

Oh beloved, there is a wonderful fascination about the blessed work of soul-seeking! When one is really anxious to bring a sinner to the Saviour, eating and drinking are often forgotten. Just as the hunter of the antelope, in the heat of the chase, leaps from crag to crag, and is oblivious of danger, and forgets all about the time for his meals, so he who hunts after a precious soul, to win it for Christ, forgets everything else. He is altogether absorbed in this holy pursuit; the Master was more absorbed in it than any of us are ever likely to be.

33-35. Therefore the disciples said to each other, “Has any man brought him anything to eat?” Jesus says to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes harvest?’ Behold, I say to you, ‘Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields for they are white already to harvest.’

That was probably an old Oriental proverb, used by lazy men who never thought it was time to get to work; but Jesus said, “Do not use the idler’s language any longer; now, at once, there is work for you to do.”

36-42. And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit to eternal life: so that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. And herein that saying is true, ‘One sows, and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap on what you bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and you are entered into their labours.” And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in him for the saying of the woman, who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans were come to him, they besought him that he would stay with them: and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; and said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of your saying: for we have heard him for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”

May the Lord bring us all to trust in him, for his dear name’s sake! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — ‘When Wilt Thou Come?’ ” 766}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — Just As Thou Art” 547}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — The Solid Rock” 549}

The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
766 — “When Wilt Thou Come?”
1 When wilt thou come unto me, Lord?
      Oh come, my Lord most dear!
   Come near, come nearer, nearer still,
      I’m blest when thou art near.
2 When wilt thou come unto me, Lord?
      I languish for the sight;
   Ten thousand suns when thou art hid,
      Are shades instead of light.
3 When wilt thou come unto me, Lord?
      Until thou dost appear,
   I count each moment for a day,
      Each minute for a year.
4 There’s no such thing as pleasure here,
      My Jesus is my all;
   As thou dost shine or disappear,
      My pleasures rise or fall.
5 Come, spread thy savour on my frame,
      No sweetness is so sweet;
   Till I get up to sing thy name,
      Where all thy singers meet.
                     Thomas Shepherd, 1692.

Gospel, Received by Faith
547 — Just As Thou Art
1 Just as thou art — how wondrous fair,
   Lord Jesus, all thy members are!
   A life divine to them is given —
   A long inheritance in heaven.
2 Just as I was I came to thee,
   An heir of wrath and misery;
   Just as thou are before the throne,
   I stand in righteousness thine own.
3 Just as thou art — how wondrous free:
   Loosed by the sorrows of the tree:
   Jesus! the curse, the wrath were thine,
   To give thy saints this life divine.
4 Just as thou art — nor doubt, nor fear,
   Can with thy spotlessness appear;
   Oh timeless love! as thee, I’m seen
   The “righteousness of God, in him.”
5 Just as thou art — thou Lamb divine!
   Life, light, and holiness are thine:
   Thyself their endless source I see,
   And they, the life of God, in me.
6 Just as thou art — oh blissful ray
   That turn’d my darkness into day!
   That woke me from my death of sin,
   To know my perfectness in him.
7 Oh teach me, Lord, this grace to own,
   That self and sin no more are known;
   That love — thy love — in wondrous right,
   Hath placed me in its spotless light!
8 Soon, son, ‘mid joys on joys untold,
   Thou wilt this grace and love unfold,
   Till worlds on worlds adoring see
   the part thy members have in thee.
               Joseph Denham Smith, 1860.

Gospel, Received by Faith
549 — The Solid Rock
1 My hope is built on nothing less
   Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
   I dare not trust the sweetest frame;
   But wholly lean on Jesus’ name:
      On Christ the solid rock I stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand.
2 When darkness veils his lovely face,
   I rest on his unchanging grace;
   In every high and stormy gale,
   My anchor holds within the veil:
      On Christ the solid rock I stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand.
3 His oath, his covenant, and his blood,
   Support me in the sinking flood;
   When all around my soul gives way,
   He then is all my hope and stay:
      On Christ the solid rock I stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand.
4 When the last awful trump shall sound,
   On may I then in him be found,
   Dress’d in his righteousness alone,
   Faultless to stand before the throne:
      On Christ the solid rock I stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand.
                     Edward Mote, 1825, a.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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