Thou Wouldest Have Asked of Him

John 4:10  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The Lord proceeds to lead on the woman and inspire confidence in her heart; and the Holy Spirit records it for others who were to hear His words when written: for they surely are spirit and life, words of life eternal. As yet she was spiritually dull and dark. She saw not the True Light, she believed not yet on Him in Whom is life, the light of men—guilty but favored men. Had she known God as the Giver (not exactor, as all hearts naturally conceive), had she believed in the glory of Him Who had humbled Himself to save (of which she had a sample in His asking of her a drink of water), she would have asked of Him, and He would have given her living water.
For the blessing of the grace of life to a needy lost sinner (and so it is with every child of man) is no question of self-effort or even self-sacrifice, of a charm or a rite, but of faith in the Son of God to Whom the word of God bears witness. On the one hand, “what is born of the flesh is flesh,” and sinful man, Jew, Greek, Samaritan is dead before God. On the other hand, life comes solely to us in the Light of life, it is in Jesus the Lord. Hence said He (John 5:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)), “he that heareth My word and believeth Him that sent Me hath life eternal, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life.” The Lord therefore, Himself the quickening Spirit (1 Cor. 15), said not a word to her of baptism; nor did the disciples any more than the Lord baptize her in fact. Whatever the importance of baptism, to impart life is never attributed to it once in all scripture. “He that believeth,” says the Lord (John 6:4747Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. (John 6:47)), “hath life eternal;” and so in substance often, and never otherwise. “I thank God,” says the apostle Paul, “that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gains, lest any should say that I baptized (or, that ye were baptized) unto mine own name... For Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 1:14-1714I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. 16And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. 17For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. (1 Corinthians 1:14‑17)). “In Christ Jesus I begat you through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:1515For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. (1 Corinthians 4:15)). So James 1:1818Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:18), and 1 Peter 1:23-2523Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (1 Peter 1:23‑25), and 1 John 5:11Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. (1 John 5:1). The divine testimony is uniform and full, clear and conclusive.
But the word was not yet mixed with faith in the Samaritan's soul. Else self-judgment had been produced, and such a sense of sin in herself, and of goodness (if not yet salvation) in Him, as would have drawn her to the Son of God in earnest. To be saved the individual soul must meet God now, and meet Him about its sins: otherwise it cannot evade Him in the person of the Son of man, the Judge of quick and dead, on the great white throne. Then it is too late. Judgment is irreparable and everlasting perdition. To hear Christ's word, to believe God Who sent Him, is to have life, eternal life. This was exactly what the sinner needed, but had not yet. If His word had penetrated, she would have asked of Him, and He would have given her living water.
But it will be asked, What of the church? what of the sacraments? Now it is a notable fact that in the Gospel of John, where eternal life is preeminently set out, not a word is said of either. There is always harmony in divine truth. The church, baptism, and the Lord's supper, are fully treated in the apostle Paul's Epistles, to say nothing of the inspired history in the Acts. But nowhere does scripture connect eternal life with the church any more than with the public Christian institutions. As everything is ordered aright in scripture, so are souls inexcusable who fall into so grievous an error as to stake life eternal on church or sacraments. It is contact with Christ by faith, it is His word applied by the Spirit, that gives life in the Son of God. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.
Faith therefore is always individual, even if a thousand believed at the same instant out of a multitude listening to the word of God. The church does not preach, but a servant of Christ or as here the Lord Himself; and when the soul accepts it not as the word of men but, as it is in truth, the word of God, it effectually works in such as believe. Its earliest effect is deep anxiety before God and calling on the Lord. “Thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.”
“By grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Eph. 2:88For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8). Such is the blessed standing and assurance of the Christian in due time. Nor is it otherwise now than it has ever been, though far greater light and privileges be now enjoyed. “For therein [i.e., faith] the elders had witness borne to them,” or obtained a good report, as the A. V. says. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. There was not, there certainly cannot be, another Savior; and by God's word and Spirit He was always received. Righteousness, as the apostle proves, was reckoned to Abraham himself in uncircumcision. He was circumcised afterward, as a seal in the flesh. He believed God long before; and this was reckoned to him for righteousness. It is the same now in principle, when souls are baptized, not circumcised.
Salvation like faith is individual. From first to last one must come to God believingly, for without faith it is impossible to please Him; with genuine faith ever is genuine repentance. We judge and condemn ourselves when we truly believe Him, and trust His grace in giving His Son. “Already are ye clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” John 15. We are born of water and of the Spirit. The truth thus sanctifies; which a ceremony never can, nor a body, were it even the church, however important and of immense moment in other ways. “He that disbelieveth shall be condemned,” i.e. damned, even if baptized by Peter or Paul.
In believing God's word the soul hears and answers the call of God. All the blessing may not be at once; but the Lord is confided in and the heart goes out to Him Who came to die for us, for our sins. “Thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.” And in truth it is not only life in believing, but the Holy Ghost subsequent on it, that peace and joy might be full, and God's love be shed abroad in the heart. The gift of the Holy Spirit is more than life, however blessed life may be. It is the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father. It is the Spirit not of fear or bondage, but of power and love and soberness.
Dear reader, have you got this blessing? or do you still lack it, like the Samaritan at first?