Post Title: Dead Sea Religion
Jesus opposed the covenant community active at Qumran in the Judean Desert, about 23 km from Jerusalem. They were a group of sectarians. And they are what a congregation can become if not careful.
They were pious and godly, and they loved the Word of God. They, too, quoted Isaiah 12:3, With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. However, they said the well was the Torah, interpreted their way. They had intimate fellowship and endeavored to be covenant related, but no life flowed there. It is symbolic that they resided on the northwest edge of the Dead Sea.
Jesus criticized them on many occasions. He did not like being around the Dead Sea; he wanted to be at the Sea of Galilee because there was life there. Still today, it teems with vitality—fish by the millions. The headwaters of the Jordan River are springs flowing from Mount Hermon that empty into the Sea of Galilee. It flows out from the sea as the Jordan river.
The river then winds down through Israel until it reaches the southern tip, 1300 ft. below sea level. There it empties into a great sea, which might seem impressive, but nothing can live in it due to the waters being over 30% saline solution.
The same Jordan river that feeds the Sea of Galilee and produces life for the nation of Israel produces death in the Dead Sea—because it has no outlet.
There the waters become stagnant and mineralize. Have you known any saints that have mineralized or crystallized? They may impress with all they have done, but they are just crystal in structure. There is no life because they keep taking it in but nothing comes out. It just evaporates.
Jesus says, "The Spirit I am giving you is not an evaporating Spirit. The Spirit I am giving you is a well of living waters that will leap up within you and produce life. It is a life-giving Spirit to quench thirst and bring healing to the nations. It is to raise the dead, comfort those who mourn, heal the lame and mend the brokenhearted. It is to feed the hungry and clothe those who are naked."
Brothers and sisters, Jesus came to give us abundant life, the life of his Spirit.
Do we gather simply as vessels wanting the musicians to move our emotions, wanting to get goosebumps by feeling the glory of God, wanting the preacher to fill us? Shame on us. We need to repent, return to the source and drink deeply from the well of God's mayim hayim. And then it needs to flow, flow, flow.
Oh, that each member of every congregation would know they are called to serve, to be a minister on God's behalf! Every saint can say, "Such as I have, I give to you my Lord and my God." Don't compare what you have with others. Give what you have: give, give, give.
You may or may not know my story.
The LORD used an old-fashioned Pentecostal tent revival meeting to bring me and some thirty of my friends and colleagues out of darkness into the kingdom of His Son. God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong (I Cor 1:28).
All of us were accomplished eggheads: PhDs, published writers, editors, and teachers. Even though we were instructing others about New Age spirituality, we didn't have a genuine thirst—we were too smug, too self-satisfied. We had to come the old-fashioned way; we had to thirst. At this revival, where Jesus revealed himself so powerfully, they sang this chorus repeatedly.
There is a river that flows from God above
there is a fountain filled with Jesus' blood.
Come to that river there is a vast supply
come to the river where it never runs dry.
I know today that river is the mayim hayim of his Spirit promised and secured for us by our Lord. Hallelujah!
Church, God wants us to be a place of life. All we do when we gather is wonderful, but it is no more than a pimple on a boar's back if we don't take life to the people in the places we go when we leave the building.
I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. [...] Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:21-24).
God is not impressed with our pageantry, liturgies, music, and sermons. If we are not engaged in life, the water is not flowing.
Maybe the living waters in you have dried up. You do not need a preacher to prime the pump and get you going again. Go upstream and find the obstruction. Find the leaves, the dirt, the sins, the unforgiveness. Find the pride, the possessions, the idols, the prosperity that have blocked the stream. Repent and clear it out. God is faithful; it will flow again.
Let us humble ourselves and repent, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 18:14).
I challenge you as the church of the living God. Become known as a person in whom living water is flowing. Let the words of your mouth and the work of your hands bring life in Jesus' name. Seek to give such as you have. Will you pledge yourself to that?
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.