What Worshiping in Spirit and Truth Means for Disciples and the Harvest

The Gospel Of John: The Visible Image, Volume 2

We are all disciples. How you respond to revelation, however, is what ultimately matters. The woman at the well ran to tell others about her encounter with Messiah. When Christ changes hearts, His followers respond in spirit and truth. And they tell others about the One who has shown us where to find life.

Todd WagnerFeb 27, 2011John 4:20-38; John 4:23-24; John 4:25-26; John 4:31-34; John 4:35

Well, welcome from one wretch to another! We're glad you're here! I agree with John Newton. I don't ever want to get over the grace that saved a wretch like me, so it is good to be in the room with other folks who are pursuing a full and right response to God's grace in our lives. That's kind of who we are. We're going to be people, as I will say a little bit later in the message, who have left our buckets behind. I'll explain that, but right now, though, let me just pray for us.

Lord, wherever we are, we know that you're sufficient, and I know there are folks in this room who are really discouraged. They're just tired, maybe physically. Maybe their hearts are broken over just the death of a relationship or a physical death. Maybe they're discouraged by a diagnosis or maybe just by a prognosis of future career and income opportunities. Maybe they're overwhelmed, living in fear because they see what's happening in the world around them.

Maybe they're just confused because they don't know who you are and they're without hope and without God in this world. Maybe they've been here for a while and have drifted from you and wonder if they can come back for the umpteenth time. Maybe they don't have a clue when I said to turn to John if that's Old or New Testament or in the Qur'an; they don't know.

In every single one of our situations, Lord, your grace is sufficient, so all we want to do right now is to receive from you what only you can give. Lord, in a way that I cannot do, will you minister to my friends? Will you grow my heart yet again as I look back over a passage that I've had the privilege of hanging out in for a while now and teach me something I haven't seen and more fully teach my heart to respond to truths I've seen for a long time?

Will you just do the good work that you intend and may grace break through in my life and the lives of others who are here in this room today? We love you. We thank you that many of us know that you're good, and we pray for those who do not yet have the deep awareness. In Christ's name, amen.

Welcome. All right! Hey, John 4, that's where we're hanging out. If you were here last week, you know we talked about this woman at the well, this proverbial drifter whose life was broken and filled with ruinous relationships and a thirst for connection and peace. You know, I mentioned that John was very intentional about the way he selected different content for this book. He wasn't just writing historical narrative.

He certainly was doing that, but he was also trying to piece together a story that you might see the truth of who Jesus was, that you might respond to the truth of who he was so you might believe and, in believing, have your life radically changed forever. That's where we are, hanging out in John.

If you are here and you don't know Christ and if you wonder if Christ can love a wretch like you, I beg you to go back and listen to last week's message. The first part of the story of the woman at the well we looked at is all about grace and all about the fact that, no matter how far we have drifted away from him, no matter how confused and lost we are, no matter how many dry wells we've thrown our bucket down to try and find something that would satisfy our soul thirst, he's always ready to invite you back home.

In fact, what we looked at was, in John, chapter 3. There's the story of Nicodemus, this Jewish male who was moral and educated, and we saw that Nicodemus was not good enough, and it begged the question in John 3 of, "Well, if Nicodemus isn't good enough, who's good enough?" Then in John 4, we have this uneducated female, immoral Samaritan, and she's so nasty that, when you read her story, you go, "Well, if that woman can have hope and redemption, then it probably doesn't matter how bad you are because grace can show up."

You see, what John is trying to show you is that Christ loved the world, not just the Jew but the Jew and the Gentile, not just male but male and female, not just the moral who need grace but the immoral who need grace. All of us have been saved by grace through faith, and that, not of ourselves, is a gift from God, not as a result of works so none of us can boast.

What God wants to do in all of us is to create a new work we then become when we are restored into a relationship with God. We are his workmanship. We are created in Christ Jesus for good works that he has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them, so that's really basically the story we're in.

You're going to find this woman who is a recipient of love to become an agent of beauty and grace that leads to redemption for an entire community, and it's a lesson to us. First, last week's primary focus is…Do you know of God's great love and his desire to satisfy that which your soul long's for, reconciliation with a God of life? It's interesting that one of John's favorite words throughout this gospel is the word life.

There are certain things that all of us (I don't care where you come from) know are necessary for life. There's air. You have to breathe. There's water, food, and you might even make a case for light. It is no surprise then that Jesus is trying to relate to men who aren't necessarily spirituality appraised, and he says, "Guess what? I come to bring you the very breath of God, to breathe life back into you."

He says, "I am the bread of life…" In John 4, he says, "I am the one that, if you drink of him, you will never thirst again." In John 8, he says, "I am the Light of the world…""Everything you need to have life you can find in me, and in fact, you can't find it anywhere else." We are in John 4, and this is a great section of Scripture which shows us God's love for the whole world.

This is the back side of John 3:16. Nicodemus didn't know that he needed grace, and Jesus showed him his poverty, that his nature was so flawed by his brokenness with God that, no matter how much he tried to cover it up with religiosity and form, he needed a new formation. He needed to be transformed, not just curb his flesh, not just cover up that which is broken but be born again in a way that only God can do it, and God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to make that new birth possible.

He loved the whole world, not just Jews, so we go from this righteous man to this unrighteousness woman from this educated Jew to this uneducated Gentile, and the pivot point in the middle is Jesus. I don't know who you are this morning, but I know, if you're a human, you need Christ, and if you are an individual who lives and breathes, what you're looking for is found ultimately in our King.

Now where we really want to pick up today is in roughly verses 19 and 20, racing very quickly through that part because we mentioned it last week. This woman has perceived that Christ is a prophet, meaning specifically, "You are declaring to me things that I really did not know and understand. First of all, you're bringing conviction to me." We saw that Christ had engaged the woman and that he'd done it in a winsome way. He created curiosity. He declared words of hope.

He brought about conviction, and then he handled the theological diversion. They always come. Whenever you're sharing stories of hope, there's always that effort to kind of go, "Hey, this is getting a little too close to home, so let me just kind of throw out one of those intellectual problems." Now let me just say this. It's really good to educate and equip yourself to be able to answer intellectual questions. It frustrates me to no end that so many people think that faith is believing things that you know not to be true.

I mean, the fact that nonbelievers think that is one thing, but that so many folks in the church think that faith is believing things that aren't true is a tragedy. There are good answers to your good questions, and if something is true, then no amount of scrutiny can affect it, so Jesus says, "Hey, I'm not afraid of your questions," but sometimes, he realizes that questions are just that. They're smoke screens to divert attention from what is happening in someone's life when they're starting to be convicted of things they don't really want to deal with. That's not unusual.

My friend, Robbie Rice, who is one of my favorite guys to learn from in the way he loves his friends, just this year, was really convicted that he needed to go back and take advantage of relationships that he's had over his life and just touch base with folks, friends from college; friends from previous towns he's lived in, some that he's lived with; and really reach out to them. He wanted to go 50 for 50.

The first 50 days of this year, he was going to reach out to 50 different people from over the course of his life and just love them and update them on what God had been doing with him and to find out what's going on in their lives, how he could pray for them and how he could encourage them and just touch base again and be an agent of change and a source of encouragement and an initiator and a means of grace.

In the midst of going 50 for 50, some of the folks who are on that list are folks he's in life with now, and there's one young man on his street who has been so intrigued by Robbie's life and his love for other people that he said, "I need to learn how to love people the way you love people." Literally, a young guy, high-school age, said that to this neighbor of his. "I want to learn how to treat people the way you treat people."

Robbie said, "Why don't you talk to your dad, and I'll come over to your house, and I will share with you and your dad and your family how I love people and why I love people the way I do." Robbie was walking down the street, as he often does right here in Dallas, and was praying, and he said his neighbors who are usually out front in the afternoon with their scotch, just kind of sitting there and just, you know, spinning the glass, saw Robbie walking by and said, "Hey, Robbie, what are you doing?"

He kind of moseyed up, and he said, "Well, I'm fixing to go over to so-and-so's house. He was asking a little bit about how I love people and why I love people the way I do, and I'm fixing to go tell him about the love I've received and how that informs the way I try and love other people," and their neighbors went, "Well, that sound interesting. We'll come to that." He said, "Well, come on!"

Now he's got a little community right there. They knock on the door, and they show up, you know, scotch in hand I guess, and in they go, and they sat down there. Well, Robbie just says this. "I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to talk to you (talking about the young man)." He said, "I'm going to share with you a little bit about that which has changed my life and has made me a lover of others," in a winsome way, having engaged people, creating curiosity and thirst.

He said, "Now I'm just going to answer every question like I'm really talking to you," which of course he was, and he went on and began basically just to share to the story of hope that comes in Christ, exposing need, helping folks understood that, no matter how good you are, it's not good enough and the grace of God that intervenes. After a little bit of this, his scotch friend said, "Hey, wait a minute. Wait a minute! I mean, look, hang on. I mean, you've been talking a lot about the Bible here, I can tell. How do we even know the Bible is God's Word?"

Robbie goes, "Now I'm going to respond to you like I would if you were the one who asked me that because I'm having this conversation with you." He said, "You want to know why I think the Bible is God's Word. Well, that's a good question and one that is really worth answering, and I'd be happy to answer that with you, but for the purpose of the conversation right now, I didn't ask you if you believed the Bible was God's Word.

I asked you what you understood the central message of the Scripture to be because, obviously, your question shows your intellectual integrity. Now it wouldn't be a very intellectual thing to reject a book out of hand that you didn't even know it's central message, especially when that book is one of the most discussed, debated, destroyed, and revered books in all of human history, would it?

Countries have been founded on it. It's been preserved and translated and read more than any other book in human history, so I'm not asking you, just for a second, whether or not this is God's Word. I'm asking you if you understand what the central message of that book is, and then we can come back to that."

That is called handling the theological diversion. We call that typically a judo technique where you use somebody's efforts towards you to bring them to a place where they have to listen. That's really what Jesus does with this woman when she is starting to have him move in a little bit and she's starting to feel the pressure of her sin being exposed.

She says, "How do I know what to do? I don't know whether to worship up here at Gerizim where the Samaritans think we should offer sacrifices or down there like you Jews in Jerusalem. I mean, you know, if I have to get right with God, how am I supposed to know where to do it? It's just all too confusing for me."

Jesus just dives right in, and rather than get into a debate about who historically is right, he talks about something that is historically true, and that is that God so loved the world that he changes everything, that man was to approach God in fear and trembling in awareness of holiness, and until God in the fulfillment of time had brought the perfect sacrifice that would make a continual ritualistic sacrificial system, which was just a faith dependence in God's provision for them until the perfect provision came, they were never saved by the blood of bulls and goats.

They were always saved by their faith in the goodness of God whose grace was manifest and who, for a period of time, as Romans 3 said, overlooked the sins of humanity until such a time as the perfect provision could come. He said, "Let's not argue about whether you should worship up here in Samaria, as you guys decided when you changed the verb tense in Deuteronomy, chapter 12, verse 5, from what the Jews understood to be true, and by the way, the Jews were right, but let's not go there."

All he says is that, ultimately, the promises, the covenants, the Messiah in the flesh, was to come from the Jews, and you need to know something. He is here, and now that he is here, he will make a sacrifice that will make wherever you worship in a sacrificial way irrelevant. He says, "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…" In other words, it's not going to be on what day in what place that matters anymore. What matters is not where you worship but who you worship.

Then he goes on to say, "The kind of worship or your attitude in worship or the spirit of worship is what makes worship acceptable," and he uses the word Father. "This is not about religion. This is not about you trying to appease some transcendent being whom you could never really know. This is about a God who loved you and created you and hates the fact that you're thirsty and you keep giving yourself away to men who use you for their own delights and then your own nastiness and rebellion breaks the relationship and you're left alone again.

This is a Father who loves you and cares for you and wants to make you whole and give you peace. What the Father is looking for is people who know him and love him and accept him." That's what he says. He said, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship [again] in spirit and truth." No physical place, no physical things can ever appease a spiritual being.

Jesus goes on to say, "Guess what? I am the visible image of the invisible God. Do you want to know what the Father is like? I'm about to show you. He cares for nasty women who are thirsty." Now he goes right to the point and begins to call her back home. Now I'll say this. What Christ tells us here and what God has been screaming all through the Scripture is that, even when the temple system was in place, it was never about the sacrificial system. It was about our hearts.

He says again and again in the Old Testament, "Why don't you circumcise your hearts? Why don't you rend your hearts not your garments? Why don't you stop honoring me (Isaiah 29:13) with your lips while your heart is far from me?" This is quoted again in Matthew, chapter 15, verse 8. It's not what goes into the man that defiles the man but what's in the man that comes out.

"For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." Who don't worship him in form and have no functional relationship and love for him. He's looking for individuals whose hearts are his. God has always been about relationship. It's always been about grace. It's always been about responding to his love.

God is telling this woman, "I don't want people in Jerusalem or up in Samaria to do anything other than to acknowledge their sin and seek my provision, to acknowledge that I'm a good and holy God. They're nothing like me. They've left me, and they're thirsty, sucking for air, without food, without hope, and living in darkness. Come to the one who is the breath of life from God, who is the Living Water, who is the Bread of Life, and who is the Light and Hope of the World. Come!"

See that's where Christ goes, and it's why we at Watermark are always driving people here to fully respond. You know, last week we had this gifted artist up on stage, and he did a great job by putting something beautiful on the canvas. When I got up and responded at the end the way I did, a few of you misunderstood completely what I said when I got up here.

I did not say we shouldn't applaud artists. Absolutely! It's wonderful. We often do that, as I say, many times after we get done singing. We clap, and for guests who are here, I go, "Look, we're not clapping because these guys can sing, and they can sing. We're clapping because we delight in the truth of the song that was just declared, and that truth is what makes our hearts respond."

Here's the deal. Whether you're clapping at the truth in here or the beauty of a painting in here or not, which is appropriate at times, if we clap in here and do not go out of here with more devotion to Christ, then what happens in here is ultimately a source of offense to him. Our appropriate response in this room filled with spirit and truth, if it's spiritual and true, is not going to be a momentary thing in a momentary place at a momentary time.

We're going to walk out of here and do what the Scripture says. We're going to always worship in spirit and truth, and we're going to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Like Colossians 3 in verse 17 and then again in verse 23 says, "Whatever you do in word or deed…" Do everything for the Father with a spirit of thanksgiving for Jesus Christ. Romans 12:1: "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your [lives] …"

Not your Sunday mornings, not your first 10 percent, but everything. "… [as] a living and holy sacrifice [for him] …" What this verse is saying is what we try and say every week here at the end of our services, which is, "You go have a great week of worship." This is a time of reminder and encouragement and celebration that we might fully respond in spirit and truth.

That's what Jesus said he's always been looking for, and you won't respond that way unless you know the love of God, that he demonstrates his love for you and that while you were still a nasty rebel, sleeping around with everybody, throwing your bucket in every well the world has to offer to try and quench your thirst, Christ died for you, and he wants you to come home, and having received that life-giving water, we should always go out changed. We remind ourselves of that great story every week right here.

It, by the way, is why from the very beginning here, every year, we kind of go back to zero. In other words, at least once a year, we kind of come together and say, "Hey, how are we really doing at worshiping in spirit and truth?" We don't want to be people who just impress ourselves with large numbers who gather. We've never been out to be a big church. We've always been about being individuals who spur each other on to love and good deeds all the time.

What Jesus in effect would say is, "It's not where you do it. It's how you do it with a spirit that is surrendered to me who is in love with a God who really is. Do you know me?" We have come up from the very beginning with this little assessment we all take every January that we remind you about through February.

Then in March of every year, some of you will have us invest 50 cents to send you this loving note in the mail right now. I want to read it to you again, so folks who are not connected here would know that this is how we roll, not at Watermark, but this is the way believers in Christ who want to worship him in spirit and truth love one another. We do this because of John, chapter 4, verses 20 down through 24 because Christ calls us to not just be worshipers in name only.

Look, some of you guys aren't going to get this letter because you've been sitting here for four, five, six, eight years and never even connected that much. As I say, many times, if you're here and you're a believer in Christ and you've never connected with others in community, found out what your spiritual gifts are and, in discovering them, developed them and deployed them and covenanted with others to pursue Christ, then you are not a regular attender. You are an irregular believer, and irregular believers are very, very dangerous people to be around.

In fact, I was talking to my friend, Mark Driscoll, who pastors a church up in Seattle, this week, one of the most unchurched places in the entire country, and we were talking about the different challenges we have, and Driscoll was saying, "Here I live in this town that is the most educated town in America and the most resourced town in America, more than New York…

More books are sold and read in this little demographic than anywhere else in the country, but there's not a single Christian bookstore in this area. Most of the folks who are involved in the ministry around here are confused with their own identity and issues of righteousness, and they don't have any standard of truth, even the folks who are called shepherds and pastors here."

He said, "In fact, I only know of one other church in the entire city of more than 100 or so people who even hold to the basic level of faithfulness and orthodoxy, where they even acknowledge somewhere in one of their statements that the Bible is God's Word." He goes, "That's where I minister." We talked about the challenges he has.

He goes, "Todd, you, on the other hand, live in Dallas, Texas, you know, the buckle of the Bible belt, where you have all kinds of folks who are deluded in what it means to really follow Christ and who don't even know they have a need because they've said they believe something about Jesus, but they're really just consumers who move in and out and suck resources from other folks who really need them, never contributing to the work financially or with their own lives." He said, "Probably half of them are unregenerate, and you can't convince them they are."

I said, "Yes, sir. They call themselves regular attenders." It's really interesting because what you're going to find here is that Christ talks to his disciples, and they're just as clueless as Nicodemus and the woman at the well. The word disciple, by the way, to share with you, just means learner. Do you know, if you're here this morning, you are a learner, which means you're a disciple?

There are only going to be a few disciples in this room who go out of here and have their thirst quenched, who breathe freely, who walk in the light and whose bodies are nourished by the food and provision of God. The Scripture talks about how there are two kinds of people. Some people build their lives on sand, and that foundation is insecure and is going to bring about great catastrophe and sadness, and others build their lives on a rock.

Do you know what's interesting? Both of them are disciples. Let me say this again. It says that the wise man builds his house on the rock. It says that the foolish man builds his house on the sand. Do you know what is consistent with both of them? They both heard the words of God. They were regular attenders, but half of the group were irregular believers, and they never executed. They never drank of the well that they professed would give them life.

I talk to a number of folks here, and they say, "I've made this profession about Jesus, but I've never really experienced that abundant life and that peace and that joy and that purpose that I hear you guys talk about." Then I start to say, "Are you reading your Scriptures? Are you tracking with other people in community? Are you pouring your life out in service for the kingdom? Are you ordering your life according to his precepts and commandments?"

"Well, no, I've never done that."

"Are you meditating on his Word?"


"Well, then no wonder, because you're still building yourself a life on the sand, even though you've heard the blueprints of strength."

Once a year, we send this letter out, and hundreds of folks who said, "Yes, you are the fountain of living waters," fold up their buckets and go home. This is the letter, and this is the foundation biblically for why we send it. Here it goes. "As you have heard us say many times, our hearts' desire at Watermark is to help those with whom we have contact become fully devoted followers of Christ, and we hope this letter reaffirms our commitment to shepherd and care for you. One of the tools that we use annually toward this goal is the 4B Spiritual Growth Assessment.

The questions asked in it allow you to think and pray through how God is working in you, and your responses allow us to help you pursue him even more fully. Additionally, through this information, we can discern the areas that God would have us focus on as a church body and determine how we should budget resources and evaluate ministry and strategies to allocate staff. You are receiving this letter because we still have been unable to connect with you regarding your prayerful reflection on your walk with Christ.

We're confident that you know our heart is not to trouble you with busyness, but as we have shared, we're in the business of changed lives, and this assessment helps us discern how we are serving you, and thus our Lord, regarding this purpose. We believe God's Word calls all followers of Christ to hold the values of authenticity and community as nonnegotiable, and the 4B Spiritual Growth Assessment is one way we pursue these values as members of the church family.

What are the four B's? That you're going to be a man or a woman who believes in Christ, that helps others know who Jesus is, that you yourself have made that profession, that you then belong to his body and practice the one-anothers of Scripture, that you are a person who is going to be trained in truth so that you might be increasingly adequate and equipped, ready for every good work, that you would then deploy your life as a soldier in active service, not entangling yourself in the affairs of everyday life.

So, believe in Christ, belong to his body, be trained in truth, and be strong in a life of ministry and worship: that's what we say were going to pursue together. That's what the Scripture calls us to, so we say this. It's our conviction as leaders charged to shepherd the flock of God among us voluntarily according to the will of God, not for sordid gain, but with eagerness, that this kind of communication is necessary for us to serve you and thus God with excellence.

During the membership process, I remind you, we let all members know that Watermark is committed to having regular conversations with you regarding your walk with Christ. The 4B Assessment is simply a form in which we can have that important conversation. If your reason for not filling out this form is simply due to an aversion of forms, we get that, or if you don't have access to a computer or a skill to do it, let us know today, so we can set up a time to meet with you in person and serve you and just have these conversations together.

If this letter also comes to you as a complete surprise because we've miscommunicated this to you, let us know, and we'll talk about that, but the intent of this letter and the 4B process is to annually connect with you and help us to measure how we are serving you in our effort to spur you on into a deeper relationship with Christ as well as to provide you with an easy tool that you can use with others in your community to help each other to excel still more.

It's always our desire to continue our partnership in honoring, serving, and pursuing Christ with you. However, if we fail to hear from you, we will consider your lack of response as communication to us of your desire to discontinue our previous commitments to each other, in which case, we're going to remove you from the list of the souls we watch over and give an account for as leaders."

Now let me just say this very clearly. Nowhere in this thing is there a grade given. This is not a test to see if you're doing well enough. We don't say to certain folks, "Hey man, you had a lousy year. Could you podcast for a while until your life gets back together, and then you can come here? By the way, when you come, you'll be in the loft for three weeks, and then we'll grade you again, and maybe you can make your way into the inner sanctum." No!

We're also not saying that, if you don't do this, if you're tracking here, that you're going to hell. We're just saying you're not pursuing heaven with us. All we're doing here is we're just saying, "Look, this is my community. This is my family. I'm in with this family. I want to be known by my family. I don't want to walk in, shut the door, and live alone here." God calls us to practice the one-anothers of Scripture, and we really think we should do it. Is that crazy? It is.

We're just saying, "We're not going to build this house on the sand." This is not a Watermark thing. This is a biblical thing, and this is the way we're going to pursue the thing that Christ has told all of us who are leaders of one another here that we will give an account for each other's souls. "Were you impressed, Todd, that they validated you and your gifts in this building by showing up every week, patting yourself on the back at how impressive your touch is?"

I hope not. May it never be because what God says is, "I want you to love and shepherd people, not to tickle their ears and entertain the unregenerate but to spur them onto love and good deeds." We say we are hopeful and prayerful that this will not be necessary, and we ask that you make responding to us today a priority, so we can continue to move forward in serving Christ and sharpening each other as he intends.

Here's where you can find that form. If you've moved or connected with another body where you're being radically encouraged to follow Christ in spirit and truth, tell us, so we can celebrate that and pray for you as you continue to pursue him and let us know where that is because folks ask us all the time where other places are, and we'll celebrate it with you. That's our heart. Do you see why that thing goes out? It's John 4 because these are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

We just, from the very beginning, were just too stupid to think to do it another way, so we just said, "Let's really be about this." Do you know what was so great? One of the ways I'm going to close this whole thing is the way Jesus does when he tells the disciples that they ought to be like this woman who just came to know him and to go out into the fields that are white for harvest.

You know, every week, I stand up here until no one wants to talk to me. There are girls who are up here with me who talk to girls, and I talk to guys until no one wants to talk anymore, every week. One of the gals I was standing next to goes, "What I love about what God does…" just like Kyle said in the moments of worship earlier and the Scriptures that were there that stirred his heart…

She said, "You know, this message today was great. When I filled out my 4B form (this is a leader of the church) the weakest area in my life was sharing my faith with those who are far from God, so I took the 4B form just like you guys said, and at the end of it, I emailed it to my Community Group. They looked at it. One of the gals in my Community Group called me and said, 'Hey, guess what? That's an area that I was low in, too, if you'll look at mine. This Thursday, I know of a deal that a gal at Watermark is training others how to share their faith. Let's go.'"

She just spent last Thursday, several hours, because she was spurred on as she evaluated her walk with Christ to become more effective in sharing her faith, to which I go, "Right on!" That's worshipping in spirit and truth. That's not being stirred by a painting or a message and going, "I'm really going to change my life this time," and then moving out in isolation. Proverbs 18:1: "He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom."

My life would be so much more diminished for the glory of God if I was not a part of a community of friends who help me and love me, who looked at my 4B form, who watched me live before them every day and spoke truth and love, encouraged me, and celebrated the things that are right and good. Come on! Dive in! I wanted you to know the biblical basis for why we do that.

It's interesting because, after he said this (jump back into text with me), in verse 25, the woman said, "I know that Messiah is coming…" I know this prophet. The Samaritans called him Taheb. They believed that he was the prophet who was going to be coming who was greater than Moses who would continue to reveal to them truths about who God was. "We know he's coming, the one who is called the Christ, and when he comes, he's going to declare all things to us."

In verse 26, Jesus does something for her that he does very few places in Scripture. I mean, he just pulls it all back, and he just says, "Hey, woman, ego eimi (the Greek). I…I am." He looks right at her, and he says, "I who speak to you right now, I'm that prophet you're looking for. I am the Christ. I am the Messiah. I'm not just a rabbi. I'm not just a Jew wandering through your land. There's a reason I engaged you. I am very God of very God."

He says, "I am the means through which the sacrificial system will be fulfilled so it's no longer necessary in Gerizim, which it never should have been, or in Jerusalem as a reminder to the world. That's why we're no longer going to need temple mounts, because there's going to be a new sacrifice. I'm going to create a new temple with a new Spirit that indwells all men who will be reengaged with God like never before. I am he."

You know, when Jesus said this, he was quoting, in effect, exactly what God said about himself when Moses was going to deliver the people out of bondage and oppression and slavery and he was concerned about how he was going to go tell Pharaoh that he needed to let the people go and how he could tell the people to follow him. He said, "Who should I say sent me?" God says, "Yahweh. You tell them Yahweh sent you," which is the Hebrew way of saying, "You tell them I Am Who I Am sent you (or I Will Be Who I Will Be)."

Why did God use that when he told Moses in Exodus 4:14, "My name is Yahweh? My name is I Am Who I am, I Will Be Who I Will Be"? It's because he's saying, "Moses, in generations of philosophy and speculation and prayer and meditation, you could never get your arms around who I am. I am so far beyond anything that your finite mind could attain to that, unless I revealed myself to you, you would never get an accurate representation of who I was. I am more loving than you can imagine. I am more holy than you can imagine.

My justice is more thorough than you would dream, and my grace is more wonderful than you would dare ask. I am everlasting to everlasting, and I want you to know that I will prove myself to you in grace and mercy and strength and power. Now you go, and you fear not. I will give you my words, and I will be with you. All you need is a broken heart that follows me in spirit and truth." Off Moses went in faith with nothing but a stuttering tongue and a stiff stick, and God did a great work.

Who did? It was the eternal I Am, the same one who is with this woman right here, offering her something wonderful. In verse 27, it says, "At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, 'What do You seek?'" Do you remember what I said earlier in John?

When someone came up to Jesus and said, "Hey, I'm going to follow you wherever you go," Jesus' response was, "What do you seek? What's your motive? What are you after? What do you think you're going to get from me in terms of physical provision, health, wealth, and prosperity that would have you say you're going to follow me wherever I go, because the Son of Man has no place to lay his head? This is not going to be easy."

He asked, "What do you really seek? When I say I have something that will satisfy you and quench your thirst, are you thinking that I'm going to give you your own private well, or do you understand the spiritual allusion to all of the Old Testament references that are satisfied in this that I speak of?"

What's interesting right here is John wanted everyone to know that Jesus was different, and when they saw Jesus talking to somebody, they never once thought he was making a play for money or privilege or pleasure. They had been around him enough to know, "This guy is not like us," so it doesn't suggest in any way that the disciples thought his motive was at all self-speaking. They didn't even question how he shattered the cultural norms of the day because they had come to expect that some of their cultural norms needed to be shattered.

Jesus always went after the traditions of men. Jews never talk to a Samaritan. Jewish men never talked to a Jewish female in public and certainly Jewish men never to a Samaritan woman, but God seeks all men. They had started to figure out that this Jesus was no mere man. They knew his heart was not for himself but for her, and they were glad that he was breaking down these age-old stereotypes.

"So the woman left her waterpot…" I love this. You know what? People make fun of us as they go back and look at, 11 years ago, what we were going to name our church. One of the names that was floated that was on the board that was never given really serious consideration was Lone Star Community Church. That was one of the many names that were on there, and to this day, it's pinned on me, that I was the guy who was really fighting for that.

Anyway, if I had to go back and name this church, a name that I would throw out there to be considered is People of the Left Water Pots, right out of here in John. No one would ever come to this church because it's the queerest name I've ever heard, but it actually represents who we are. By the way, a water pot in that day and age wasn't really a plaster thing.

It certainly wasn't, you know, whatever Jack and Jill carried up the hill that was this little wooden thing with little metal bands around it, because that would be kind of burdensome. It was usually animal guts that were sewn together that you could fold up and put in your pocket that, when you came across a well, you could throw down there and pull it up. It was, in a sense, a loose canvas bag, but it was leather, so it wasn't canvas at all.

What is says, though, is that this woman had found what she was looking for, and the thirst really was satisfied, and she was so excited to have peace and forgiveness, that she had really met the lover of her soul, the one who created her, the one she had left and in leaving found nothing but despair and darkness and hurt, and no matter how thirsty she was physically, it was nothing like her soul thirst. Can you relate?

When that soul thirst was satisfied, she wasn't thirsty anymore, and off she went. She went right in, and guess what she said to others? "You have to come and see! Anybody who meets that kind of provision, who loves anybody…" See, guilt and shame no longer ruled her life because guilt and shame had been dealt with.

This is a woman who went to the well by herself in the middle of the day who now ran into the city saying, "Look, I'm different because that which I thought separated me from you and from God has been reconciled, and I want you to have what I was just given. You have to come and see this guy. You have to come and meet… Is he maybe the Christ? I think he is, but you come and find out for yourself. You come and consider Jesus."

That's all you have to do. Tell folks to come and see, come and consider Jesus. You then testify what water pots you've left behind. Which ones are they? Immorality? People pleasing? Anger? Lust? Hiding behind three or four glasses of wine or scotch or the next business deal or the next marriage? What water pots have we left behind? Do you know who we are here? We're not a bunch of pretty people.

I am a guy with a string of water pots behind me that, by the grace of God, I've quit carrying around because I no longer need them because I've found the well of eternal life that springs up inside of me that says, "Drink from this, Todd. You don't need the next Deepak Chopra book or the next Oprah show or the next philosophy or guilt-ridden religion. You have found life in Christ.

You no longer need to delude yourself that life is sustainable by having some chemical wash over your soul, but you've found true peace. You no longer need to manage relationships with guilt or with intimidation and anger. You no longer need to leave in isolation through pride. Leave those buckets and those wells behind and come drink of me."

The disciples, though, were just as clueless as Nicodemus, just as clueless as this woman, and they were saying to him in verse 31, "Rabbi, eat." He said to them in verse 32. "I have food to eat that you do not know about." Of course, these knuckleheads look at each other just like Nicodemus.

When Jesus said, "You have to be born again," he went, "How am I going to crawl back up between Mama's legs?" and the woman, when he said, "If you knew who I was, you'd ask of me where to drink, and you would want to drink out of my well," said, "Well, where is this well?" When he says to the disciples, "I have food to eat that you do not know about," they go, "Who gave him something to eat? I don't see anybody else around. There's not a McDonald's near here, and the woman didn't have anything to eat. She had a pot."

They didn't have any clue. In verse 34, it says, "Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work." What Jesus is saying is basically Psalm 19, verse 10, saying, "Living according to the will of my Father brings me such joy and satisfaction it is "…sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.""You guys don't even know…"

This is what he used, by the way, to resist temptation in the wilderness with the Enemy who came alongside of him and said, "Look, man, you're out here. You don't have what you need. God has forgotten you. Live according to what I tell you to do. Break the terms of the incarnation. Be your own man. Make your own way. Turn this stone into bread."

Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:30. He says, "My will is to do the will of the Father who sent me." He says specifically this: "…man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord." What Jesus is saying he repeats in John 5 and John 6. It is, "My great joy is to do the will of my Father who sent me, and that gives me life."

Gang, I have to tell you, this has been my story. I have been places that are unfamiliar with food that I didn't like with people I didn't know, filled with satisfaction and peace because I was in the Father's will loving and serving others. I have to tell you, I have experienced what Christ has said, and I want to experience every day, all day when I'm living that way.

I'll tell you what else. I've had folks who come up to me and they go, "Wagner, do you know what bothers me about you? It's that you don't have what I have, yet you don't need what I need." There's a friend, a guy who I spend some time with who is extremely well resourced. At times, we've jumped on, you know, planes that he's provided and gone to great, exciting events together, NCAA Final Fours, things of that kind.

I can remember being with this friend of mine and sitting at a P.F. Chang's up there on the Tollway and him sitting down across the table, and he says, "Do you know what bothers me about you?" I go, "Well, jump on. You know, the list, I'm sure, is long. What do you have?" He says, "You don't have half of what I have, yet you're a curiosity to me because I don't have what you have." Then he leaned forward, and he said this.

This guy loved good food That's why we were at P.F. Chang's. I wasn't buying. We wouldn't be at Pei Wei if were buying. Uncle Wok is where we'd be if I was buying. He just said to me this. He leaned across the table, and he said, "I have eaten in the best restaurants in the world. I have walked through the best kitchens…" (His exact words were) "…in the world, and I've gone out the back door hungry, and I don't see you hungry, and I can't figure that out."

Again, for the umpteenth time, I shared with him why I wasn't hungry, because I had food to eat that he didn't have to eat. It was the commandments and the will of the Father that were not oppressive but were life giving, and I was no longer trying to find the way which seemed right to me, which in the end again and again was a mirage. It was the way of death. Now I don't know what my friend has done with that to this day. I still see him. He still looks tired, and I still keep praying.

"So the disciples were saying to one another, 'No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?' Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.'" Then he says this. "There's a reason I brought you here to watch this. It's because one of the wills of my Father is that others would come to know who I am. You're learning who I am, but you need now to learn to take what you're learning about who I am and share it with others."

Many think that what was happening now is the woman had been into the community, had found different folks, had said, "Come and see," when he said to his disciples, "Look, even now the fields are white for harvest," in that day, many men, especially religious men who studied whatever it is they studied, the Torah in the case of the Samaritans, which is the first five books of the Bible, would dress in white.

As they were running toward him, because the word was the Taheb, the Messiah was here, he said, "Look, here they come, man. All these folks, they're looking for life, reconciliation with God, and we have to tell them it's not through religion. It's through a relationship with me. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the light. I am the Bread of Life. I am Messiah, and if you love me, you'll harvest with me."

Here's where I want to just zoom in today, okay? I mean, I want to close with this one big idea. In August, I did a whole series called Compelled to Converse, which was about how we have to be individuals who care for those who are far from God. At the end of that, I showed a little video that we were going to show again today for the third time, something we very rarely do. It's called Who Will Write Your Name?

It's a video that talks about a number of individuals who have trusted Christ because somebody here in this body took the time out to love them and share with them. I showed that video again, by the way, in October, when I was teaching through John 1, and I talked about that little section where Jesus and others would say, "Come and see. Come and see," and I just reminded you again that God wants you to be come-and-see people, just like this woman was.

Here's my question…Six months behind the first time we showed it, four months behind the next, if I showed that video again today, if we shot the video again today, would any of you who didn't have anybody who would write your name in August have somebody who would write your name today? Have you shared the story of Christ with anyone in the last six months?

Can I tell you something? I don't care how many times you've been stirred in here and how many times you clapped at a canvas or a song or been convicted by a message, if the answer is "no," then you are a disciple but a disciple who builds his house on the sand, and you are deluded, and there's a chance you're unregenerate, and there's a chance that you don't worship him in spirit and truth because, if you love God and his Spirit indwells you, you can't stay away from the harvest.

We have to go back and just go, "Look, this is why I'm here. This is life to me." Can I share with you a few stories? Last week, I mentioned to you the gal at Tom Thumb who I interacted with. I mean, it happened to me again this week. I'm looking just for silly, stupid ways. I mean, think how awkward it was with Jesus. "Woman, get me a drink."

"What are you, a Jew, doing talking to me and asking me for a drink?"

"Well, woman, if you knew who I was, you'd ask me for a drink, and you'd drink it, but you'd never thirst again."

That's just awkward. That is a bad come-on, evangelistic pickup line. I figure, if Jesus can do lousy things, I can too. I'm at Twisted Root, with a bunch of guys this week. Our group gets split up because I was in a conversation out in front. I walk in. You know, the four guys who were in front are separated from three guys who are behind, and there's a woman in between us.

They're starting to close their bill, and I go, "Well, just leave that open." He goes, "Nah. That's all right. I've already started…" The cashier said, "Oh, are you guys together?" She goes, "That's all right, just go ahead and pay. I mean, just go ahead and do your deal. We'll just start two checks. It's no big deal." She goes, "No, really, go ahead. I'm just getting a gift certificate." I go, "Man, I love gift certificates. I love when I get stuff for free. Don't you?"

"Look, dude, do you want to go with your group or not?" I go, "How about if I told you where could get a gift certificate that was for something better than free food at Twisted Root." Now she's looking at me and looking at the guy like, "Who is this knucklehead?" In just a few short seconds, we kind of laughed through that awkward transition, and I shared with her about something God has offered us for free in just a moment, and off we went. We had a nice cordial conversation. It was short, and off she went.

The week before, when I was at that Tom Thumb, I told you I'd close up that story. Do you remember that I said to that little girl who saw I had a bunch of ice cream right there? She said, "Whoa! It looks like you guys have a party. What's going on tonight?" I go, "I think every day is a reason to party. Don't you have something to celebrate every day?" She says, "No."

Then she says, "Wow! It looks like everybody gets their own flavor." I say, "Do you know what? That's what great about Blue Bell ice cream. You can have every flavor you want, but that's really what's wrong with the world, isn't it? We all have our own flavor of truth and what we think is right, and it's causing all kinds of problems in the world. Wouldn't you agree?"

Then I say one more time, "Hey, I want to ask you again. Do you have anything that you celebrate every day?" She goes, "No." I said to her, "Would you like to know something worth celebrating every day?" To which she, in surrender, had figured out, "You're probably going to tell me anyway, so just get on with it."

I then said to her (this is the part of the story I want to close down), "Well, here it is. It's as simple as this. Even though all of us choose our own way and we have our own way to find life and we all rebel against what God says is right, he doesn't leave us in a state of perishing, which just means misery and aloneness and brokenness, but he loves us so much that he entered into our brokenness and sent his Son, that we could be restored to him and experience something even sweeter than ice cream through his Son, Jesus Christ."

What I didn't tell you is that, earlier when I was walking through Tom Thumb, I had bumped into another guy who I know leads a large congregation here in town that may or may not believe in salvation by grace through faith, and he may or may not know how to share the gospel, even though he leads a rather large organization that is religious.

It just so happened, as I was doing that, I noticed that he had come up in line right behind me, and he was listening to this conversation. What I did was I said, "I'll tell you what. Now I've told you that there's something to celebrate every day, and this gentleman right here will now tell you how you can receive that gift," and he looked me, and went like this, and I walked out.

I waited until he checked out, and then I assumed that he did not have that conversation, so I went back in to buy the bread that I forgot. I went back in and bought a loaf of bread and got back up there and just simply said to her, "Hey, did my friend tell you how you can receive that gift?" and she said, "No, he didn't." I don't know if he could or couldn't or wouldn't, but I knew I had to go back in and say, "Well, let me just tell you, here's how." I just shared very briefly with her that little moment.

Here's the deal. This is not about my friend who did or wouldn't. It's about you. Were you ready? If you were behind me at Tom Thumb, and I said to you, "Tell you what, my friend right here is now going to tell you how you can receive that gift, what it is, where they've left their buckets behind, and they would love for you to know what they know," are you ready, or do you know something in name only? Let me tell you what's so awesome about this. Are you ready?

Man, gang, when you hear the fields are white for harvest… This week, I started thinking, "What happens to a field that is rich with produce?" What's produce? It's things that will give you life and nutrients, that will bring blessing to you. They will bring favor to you. Right? If you leave crops in the field, guess what's going to happen. They will turn from a source of provision and life to pestilence, disease, and death. Scavengers will come in. Bandits will come in. Predators will come in.

They will invade the territory that was supposed to be a source of blessing to you, and it will become a source of death to you. This is America, and because the fields are white for harvest, especially in a day like today where there is trauma economically and fear because of radical groups around the world that seem to be getting more power and a breakdown in morality and folks are looking around and they're insecure, they're white for harvest, but if you don't lead them, somebody else is going to get them, and they're going to harvest that.

Those who God wants to bring into light who can be a force of good in this culture will become victims of pestilence themselves and maybe even leaders of it. I started thinking about again all the stories around here, all of them, of individuals who, because of the grace of God, they're no longer a bane on society but are now leaders in here. The fields have been white for harvest for 10 years in Dallas.

Has anybody written your name? Is there anybody in here this morning with a community of faith around them, a family that's a blessing, children who are shepherded well, who are your classmates? Do you guys know that guys whom I discipled when they were in high school are now discipling guys who are taking my daughters to dates on dances? Do you know what a blessing that is? The field was white for harvest, and because of that, that produce has been reaped, and now it is coming back to me and giving me life.

As a dad, when I see that young man get in the car with my daughter, there is peace because I know the way he's being shepherded, though I'm not there leading that ministry because somebody else is because something's been harvested. This week, I just sat down with some friends here. I just said, "Let's go. Let's start talking about some stories here at Watermark of folks we know who were ripe for the harvest. What were they doing, and where are they now?

I think of sweet little Allie. She said, "My life was really defined by death of those around me, divorce, and abortion; a complete loss of self-worth, hope, and faith, but then I came to Christ here." Now this rich resource that was out there that was on the vine and ripe for the gospel, but no one shared it with her, came to her. Now she's a leader, a discipler of women, one of the folks who shares her faith more than anybody.

Sweet Daniel Montenegro, a member of our body, you've seen Daniel on one of the Making Room for Me videos. Daniel looks just like you'd think somebody who was looking for life apart from Christ would look. He was here last week. I saw him sitting there. He still has all the markings of a godless life all over him, but he has the brightness of Christ in his eyes.

Daniel said this, "I lived in absolute poverty. Before I became a believer, I was lost, addicted to drugs, a liar, a thief, running freely in the world but imprisoned by my sin. My world was upside down. I knew no other way. Then I heard the gospel. I trusted in the Father, and my old ways turned new, and I am a new creation." Daniel went through Equipped Disciple. He learned the Word. He was harvested for the sake of the kingdom, and right now, he is traveling around the world as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, ripe for the harvest.

My buddy, Cody Crouch, said, "Before Christ, I was chasing things of immorality and of monetary value. I had bad relationships. I lived in people-pleasing. I was just plain living for myself." Now he's leading a Community Group, discipling other men. Keith Ketzle said, "I lived my life chasing women and alcohol." Ryan Frakes: "Living the party life, alcohol, drugs, overdosing, a drain on society." Both these men are leaders now in ministries at Watermark. The field is ripe for harvest.

Walking in here Thursday morning, I bumped up against a young lady who said this, and I said, "You have to e-mail me that." She e-mailed me that and said, "You can read it." She said, "Todd, when I first walked through the doors of Watermark, I was an angry, bitter, resentful little rock. Now through the grace of God, I'm able to see a little rosebud that is starting to open and will bloom with God's continued nourishment. I don't hardly recognize who I was. When my spiritual life, though, started to heal, the emotional and physical followed right along."

She said, "All that changed in May of 2009 when I stumbled in here. I was desperate for help, and I knew the only way I could get help is from this Messiah, this God, and I found it here." She said, "Now my husband goes to Summit. He's been discipled. In fact, he's the one who would go and get trained. He'd come back and teach me what he learned Thursday mornings.

We got involved with CR together. We've been through re|engage together. We've gone from devastating choices that wounded each other to now having a thriving marriage," where she said, "Now I'm a part of the Connecting Point ministry here." She said, "Every new person who moves from isolation to Community, I'm a part of that assimilation process. I pray over every single one of them." …white for harvest.

Allen Hankins has been the subject of a Watermark News story here before… There's a little blog post about Allen just a few short years ago. The title of the blog post was "Drunk, No Pants—I Guess I'll Climb a Radio Tower." This guy was a drunken fool. He was a pestilence to society and a source of amusement to a lost world.

Look at this right here. I had to go dig it up. You can Google it and still find it yourself right there. "Drunk, No Pants—I Guess I'll Climb a Radio Tower." "Meteorologist Jeff Creighton reported seeing a man climbing a catwalk outside the station around 3:30 a.m. By the time police arrived, the daredevil was quite a ways up our tower, [naked]."

First blog comment: "I know this guy. He works at a rather predominant company in Cincinnati. It is not a surprise to me that he did this and was drunk. What an embarrassment to his company and to himself he is. This dude needs some serious counseling." False, Allen Hankins needs Jesus Christ.

Fact, Allen Hankins trusted Christ here. Fact, Allen Hankins is leading ministry and discipling 20-year-old men. His life is a thing of beauty and glory, a resource to the kingdom. Allen Hankins is a stud, no longer having people look up his britches a thousand feet in the air but looking down their lives, and he's saying, "Somebody loved me enough to tell me about Jesus." The fields are white for harvest.

You can either leave drunks climbing radio towers all around the world, sleeping with your daughters, living corrupt lives on Wall Street, ruining your economic system, or you can reap the harvest. You can either have a harlot who's been married five times and the guy she's living with now is not even her husband, or you can reap the harvest, and this woman becomes a source of blessing in Samaria, not the badge of wickedness.

How are you doing, church? Are you the unregenerate disciple who listens and leaves and doesn't worship in spirit and truth? Do you understand what I mean when I say, "There is a food here you don't know about if you're not walking with the Father, declaring his Word to others"? I can show you the video all day long, and you can think it's good, but if you don't walk out of here and share Christ, it's not the kind of worship the Father seeks.

You can be here all day long and say you know Jesus, but if you're not connected and practicing the one-anothers of Scripture and discovering and developing and deploying your gifts, you'd better take a look at what Matthew 7 says about those who say, "Lord, Lord!" but never follow. I'm not saying you're going to hell. That's not my call. It's his, but I am saying you're not pursuing heaven the way followers of Jesus do.

Father, thank you for this day and a chance for me to be reminded of how sweet it is to walk with you and how you take guys like me who are just a pestilence and a nuisance to society, and you make them, slowly, agents of grace, how you take Allen Hankins and… There's not a name here who's following after you who didn't used to dip their buckets in the wrong wells who's maybe left them behind.

Now we're just running, leaving those buckets of self-concern and comfort and materialism and lust and indecency, and were running and saying to others, "Come and see! Come and see where there is life." Father, I thank you for the grace of the gospel. I thank you that you take moral, educated, religious men and show them they need grace.

I thank you that you take wicked, immoral, lost women and offer them grace. I thank you for Jesus, and I pray we would not just be people who know him in idea but people who follow him in spirit and truth and that we would go out into the city which you have us, and we would reap the harvest for your glory. Would you use us now? Would you not let us shake this?

If there is a woman at the well here, if there is a prideful Nicodemus here, would they come and visit with us, Father, and find this life-giving water before they leave? Would they check the box saying, "I want to know. I want to have a conversation with somebody about this Jesus," and if we know you, might we execute as disciples who hear and act. For your glory and our good I pray, amen.

Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.

About 'The Gospel Of John: The Visible Image, Volume 2'

Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.