I remember once being so thirsty I literally thought I might die. A friend and I had rashly set out on a strenuous mountain climb with what turned out to be too little water. Neither of us were experienced climbers.
We picked a hot day to climb. When we started it was in the nineties. We found out later that it hit 110 degrees when we nearly passed out on the trail.
Coming down the mountain we ran out of water. The water we drank when we managed to make it to the bottom was some of the sweetest I’d ever drunk.
Yet as satisfying as that water was, I found I got thirsty again later that day and each day since. The satisfaction was only temporary.
There are many thirsts in life besides water: thirsts for power, revenge, acceptance. Yet the greatest thirst of all is the thirst for immortality.
One day the Lord Jesus Christ broke the social customs of His day and spoke with a Samaritan—and a woman at that. He and the woman had come to a well to get some water to drink. He used the occasion to call her to look to Him to slake her thirst for immortality. He said these words 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…. Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst…. The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:10,14)
Three points are particularly noteworthy.
First, eternal life is a gift. We can’t buy it. It isn’t for sale. Eternal life is absolutely free to the recipient. God, the giver, has already paid the price. He paid it all.
Second, one drink, one act of appropriation, secures eternal life. Whoever drinks of the living water Jesus offers will never thirst again. The gift of eternal life is, as the name suggests, eternal. Once we receive it, we have it forever. At the moment of faith we can be sure that we are secure forever.
Third, the only condition of eternal life is faith in Christ alone. Even though the woman to whom He was speaking was living in sin (vv. 16-18), the Lord Jesus did not call her to commitment, reformation of life, obedience to the Law of Moses, baptism, or discipleship as conditions of receiving eternal life. All sinners, regardless of the magnitude of their sin, have but one way to escape eternal condemnation: faith in Christ.
These are not easy words to accept. In the first place, the vast majority of people believe that life everlasting is obtained by living a good life. To accept these words of Christ requires rejecting the philosophy of the majority.
In the second place, advertising has taught us that nothing is truly free today. Buy one get one free? Drive a few hours and listen to a two-hour hard sell of a time-share condominium for a free gift? Buy a new car and get air-conditioning free? All of these represents discounts, not free gifts. It is hard for people today to believe that anything, particularly something so valuable as eternal life, is actually free.
In the third place, to accept these words we must accept the fact that we are sinful and needy people. It is hard to admit even to ourselves that we need Christ and that we can add nothing to what He did on the Cross.
Recently I was sharing the gospel with someone who said, “Those who need Jesus Christ are weak.” He evidently had used this argument many times before. He said it confidently. He expected me to try and argue that that was not so. He was ready to counter any argument I had. He was shocked, however, when I agreed. I praised him for his insight. I pointed out that none of us is perfect. We are all sinners. We all need saving—whether we recognize it or not.
Has your thirst for immortality been quenched? Do you know for sure that you have eternal life? If not, why not take Jesus Christ at His word right now? Place your trust solely in Him to save you. Give up confidence in anything else: your prayers, giving, church attendance, baptism, obedience, commitment, reformation of life, etc. Jesus Christ guarantees eternal life to all who trust in Him as their Savior.
Let us share this message gladly and often. It is glorious news. The greatest news. Don’t worry so much about method. Concentrate on the message. Tell people eternal life is a free gift and that the sole condition for receiving it is trusting in Christ alone. Leave the results to God. After all, eternal life is the gift of God. He is the one giving the gift.
Bob Wilkin is the Founder and Executive Director of GES.