The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:28-30, 39-42(NLT)
Before the townspeople came out to see, hear, and believe in Jesus, they only had the possibility of religion.
Brother Loose stands as the singular example. It was the first day of revival services at the Big Red Brick Baptist. Everyone was surprised when Brother Loose, the church’s most backslidden member showed up. They were even more astonished when he stood up, just before the second hymn. He raised his hand, Brother Pastor, kin I give a word o’ testimony? The Pastor took a deep breath and said OK…nervously.
Now, folks, began Brother Loose, y’all know me here. You know I ain’t been inside this here church for thirty years. You know I done some pretty mean things to most o’ ye, an’ I done my share o’ drinkin’ an’ fightin’ and all sorts-a sand raising. But I want ye t’ know, one thing I ain’t never lost my religion.
It would be a wonderful thing for people to lose their religion, and, in the process, find relationship with Jesus.
I would like this morning for us to note what that was like for the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well that day. She walked away from the encounter with Jesus covered with the “wet” of baptism’s faith and transformation.
She was a changed woman for three reasons:
(You must not settle for someone else’s experience)
The Bible is very clear that we are personally responsible for our own souls. Because we have been so blessed in this country with affluence and ingenuity, there is a general feeling always that things will work out. We don’t have to get too concerned about things like the future...it’ll all work out. That may be appropriate optimism about your high school football team’s record, or a math test; but when it comes to your soul, there’s too much at stake to leave to chance.
Notice what the Bible says about our personal responsibility to take care of our souls:
All people will die for their own sins—those who eat the sour grapes will be the ones whose mouths will pucker. Jeremiah 31:30(NLT)
The Bible is also quick to tell us how to take care of our personal responsibility for our sins:
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. Romans 10:9-10(NLT)
Being saved is like being revived from the dead. A man once asked the 19th century evangelist Gipsy Smith how to have a revival. The evangelist asked him: Do you have a place where you can pray?
The man answered that he did.
Tell you what you do, Smith said. You go to that place, and take a piece of chalk along. Kneel down there, and with the chalk, draw a complete circle all around you. Then pray for God to send a revival to everything inside of the circle. Stay there until He answers... and you will have revival.
Revival begins in an individual soul. Churches don’t get revived; Cities don’t get revived; Nations don’t get revived – PEOPLE GET REVIVED!
So it is with salvation.
If you are counting on an experience someone else had, or your family, or your church, or being born in a so-called Christian nation – remember, it is only a personal relationship with Jesus that saves.
Like the Samaritan woman who met Jesus personally and discovered God, you also must not settle for someone else’s experience. Also,
(You must grow beyond the initial experience)
When the woman got back to town she didn’t waste any time telling her neighbors. And when they heard about Jesus they pleaded with Him to stay around awhile; they wanted to know more. They had a hunger for what He was sharing.
It is a dangerous thing to get saved and think that everything’s set. Billy Graham once compared this to immunization shots. An immunization is a small dose of the virus, just enough to protect against the real thing. We call this cheap grace – salvation without anything further. You don’t have to pray, read your Bible, witness, give, or even go to church; you’ve got your ticket to heaven and that is all you’re after.
What does the Bible say about getting saved, then treating your Christianity as if it is a cherished treasure, locked away in some Swiss bank account?
Rather you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18a(NLT)
We are to grow up in the Lord. When you’re first saved, it is like being an infant, a spiritual baby. Without nourishment, discipline and encouragement a person can be a Christian for many years yet remain spiritually immature.
Did you know it's entirely possible for a new believer to be far more grown up in the Lord than someone who has been saved for 40 years? A good example of this is found in an incident described by Ethel Barrett in her book It Only Hurts When I Laugh. She said that when D.L. Moody became a Christian, he developed such a hunger for God's Word, spent so much time reading it, and was so quick to obey it that he became a menace to some believers. His rapid spiritual growth was an embarrassment to certain people who, though they had been saved for years, never grew up in Christ. Week after week in the church Moody attended, he would share a new experience he had with the Lord. Finally, some of the older saints who just couldn't stand feeling humiliated by his exemplary life went to Moody's uncle and urged him to quiet down his nephew.
Ethel Barrett drew this conclusion about D.L. Moody:
His robust spiritual health and bounding energy disturbed their napping; he was just too much. So, while they were sucking their thumbs, he was growing until he left them far behind; he grew more in a few years than they did in thirty.
It’s a personal relationship, not settling for someone else’s experience, and a perpetual relationship, growing beyond the initial experience, and...
(God wants YOU to lead others into the experience of knowing Him)
The woman told her town. There is a personal responsibility that we each bear to not settle for someone else’s experience – to confess our own sins, and be saved. There is also a personal responsibility to grow in grace, go beyond the initial experience of salvation.
But there is something that applies far more to the crowd gathered here today. Most of you are believers, having given your life to Christ. You didn’t settle, you repented of sin, asked for salvation, and were born again into the kingdom of God. And that is a good thing!
Many of you have grown in grace, and are mature in the Word of God. And that is a very good thing!
But one other thing that many of you probably share: most of you have never led a single other human soul to Jesus Christ. And you are in the majority among Christians.
Estimates are that 95% of all Christians have never even tried to witness. The question begs to be asked:
Is this the majority to which you WANT to belong? Or do you really desire deep down to be used of God to bring others into the kingdom?
It is my belief that the primary reason most believers don’t witness can be found in a misplaced sense of priority.
Notice the excuses:
· I just don’t know how. With proper priority you would ask to be trained.
· I let the way I live my life be my witness. With all due respect to your holy lifestyle, nobody was ever won into the kingdom without somebody telling them how to be born again.
A backslidden lifestyle on the part of a professing Christian may keep someone OUT of heaven, but if you don’t tell them how to be saved, how will they know to confess their sins, repent and receive Jesus?
· I’m just not made that way. Beloved, when you say, I just can’t do that, it reveals a basic problem with your relationship to Jesus. He may be Savior, but you’ve never made Him Lord over your life. When the Lord speaks, a servant must move. And the servant’s comfort level has little to do with it.
Scripture is unbending about our need to tell others:
Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. Psalms 66:16(NLT)
Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 1 Peter 3.15(NLT)
Can a person truly be saved, yet never witness? Never even try? Probably so, but I think that’s the wrong question.
When Jesus Christ was beaten, scourged, mocked and hung on a cross for me, so I could spend eternity with God, why would I be asking how little I can do for Him and still retain my membership? I ought to be asking, Master, what more can I do?
What is missing in so many Christian lives that we never even attempt to lead someone to the Lord? Is it motivation? I don’t know why some people have to be highly motivated before we will stretch beyond our comfort zone and witness.
Doug Green had all the motivation he needed to make a difference when he got saved. Doug was fifteen, his younger brother only twelve, when Doug got saved. Doug came home and led his little brother to know Jesus. Only a few weeks later Doug’s little brother drowned. Had it not been for the instinctive sharing of his new faith, Doug Green’s brother would have spent eternity in Hell.
A number of years later at the First Baptist Church of Bellview, Florida, Doug Green was being ordained as a minister of the Gospel. Doug’s father took part in the service and he talked about how Doug witnessed to his younger son only hours after becoming a Christian.
He ended by saying:
We’re ordaining Doug here today – but God ordained him the day he got saved to witness of the love of Jesus to a boy who only had a few days left on this earth.
People, look around you with a keen eye – people are drowning everywhere! Tell them how to be saved.
Some people settle for someone else’s experience, they have no personal relationship – and are lost.
They don’t know Him.
Some people are saved and fail to go beyond the initial experience; theirs is not a perpetual relationship.
They do not grow in Him.
Some people are saved and growing, but never attempt to lead others into faith in Christ, they do not have a productive relationship.
They do not go for Him.
We are to know Him, grow in Him, and go for Him.
Do you know Him?
Are you growing in Him?
Will you go for Him?
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…Amen!