A FOUNTAIN AND A SPRING
Do you know the difference between the Lord as a fountain and the Lord as a spring? When the Lord is outside of us, objective to us, He is the fountain. But when He is inside of us, subjective to us, He is the spring.
When we were in the Holy Land some years ago, we visited the source of the River Jordan. At the foot of Mount Hermon, we saw a strong spring welling up. We were told that underneath the mountain there was a fountain, which was the source of that spring. That fountain was in the depths, whereas the spring was on the surface.
On the one hand, the Lord Jesus is the fountain of living water; on the other hand, He is the spring. In God, the Lord is the fountain, but in us He is the spring. According to our experience, we know that the Christ who is in God is the source, the fountain. But when He enters into us and dwells in us, He becomes a spring welling up into eternal life.
NOT TRUSTING IN A TRADITIONAL WELL
We should not trust in our Bible knowledge, in our past experience, or in traditional teachings we have received from others. All such things may be a Jacob’s well to us. Daily we need to remember and realize that we have a living spring within us and that this spring is a divine Person, the Son of God, who has been given to us by God as a gift. Praise the Lord that within us we have a spring that is the gift of God!
However, in their experience many Christians still have a traditional well and not a living spring. If you speak with them about the Spirit or eternal life, they may argue with you according to their tradition. Christians who trust in their traditions are like the Samaritan woman in John 4. I was such a Samaritan woman about fifty years ago. But I no longer put my trust in a traditional well. How about you? Do you have a “Jacob’s well,” or do you enjoy the living Christ? It is possible to be a Samaritan woman with a traditional well even in the Lord’s recovery. You may regard the books and the messages in the recovery as your traditional well.
We need to be deeply impressed with the fact that no well, regardless how genuine, typical, and ancient it is, can quench our thirst. Our thirst can be quenched only by the living Person of the Son of God, who has been given by God to be the spring welling up within us.
It is possible for us to take a Christian leader as our Jacob and his teachings as our well. Lutherans have done this with Martin Luther and his teaching concerning justification by faith. They may know about their “well,” but they may not know the living Person, Jesus Christ, as the living water within them.
Let me tell you an actual story involving a Lutheran pastor in China. This particular man was an opium smuggler while he was a pastor. One day a Norwegian woman evangelist came to the city where that pastor lived and began to preach the gospel. She did not preach about any kind of “well,” and she did not preach justification by faith in an old, traditional way. Rather, she preached regeneration by the living Spirit. After every message she would go immediately to the main entrance of the chapel and talk with those who were passing by. She would ask the same question of each person: “Have you been regenerated? Have you been born again?” That Lutheran pastor tried unsuccessfully to avoid her. She stopped him and in front of a number of people asked him if he had been regenerated. He answered that he had been regenerated. However, she said, “Look at you! You have never been regenerated!” Because this was spoken in the presence of members of his congregation, he was offended.
Insulted by the way this evangelist had spoken to him, the Lutheran pastor went home and spent much of the night plotting how to kill her. But at a certain time the Spirit of God began to point out to him how sinful he was. The Spirit said to him, “How evil you are! You are an opium smuggler. Because this woman rebuked you, you were offended, and now you are thinking of a way to kill her. Don’t you realize how sinful you are? ”As a result of the Spirit’s work, he thoroughly repented and was truly saved and regenerated. The next day he attended the meeting and testified of what had happened to him. His testimony brought in a genuine revival. The experience of this Lutheran minister illustrates the difference between trusting in some traditional well and enjoying the renewing, refreshing Person of the living Christ, the Son of God.
Although traditional teaching does not count for anything as far as the living Christ is concerned, many Christians continue to depend on traditional things. In some cases their knowledge, including the knowledge of the Bible, is traditional. The Bible itself is not traditional, but it is taken in a traditional way by many Christians. Some may claim that they know all about the seed of the woman in Genesis 3 or about the names of the Lord in Isaiah 9:6. Yes, they may know these things, but they know them in the way of tradition, not in the way of life. In their way of handling the Word of God, there is no life, no freshness, no renewing.
We can testify that we truly love the Bible. However, we do not love the Bible in a traditional way. On the contrary, we love the Word because in it we can meet the living Person of the Son of God. He is the real gift of God with eternal life.
I am very concerned for some of the saints in the Lord’s recovery. They come to the meetings again and again, but what do they receive? Do they receive more traditional teachings, or do they contact a living Person? When you listen to a message in a ministry meeting, do you receive a living Person as eternal life, or do you take the ministry as something traditional? We all must learn not to put our trust in any traditional well, but learn to experience Christ daily as the living water welling up within us into eternal life.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)