The Bible is unlike any other book. It is not meant to be understood by just anyone. On one occasion Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” Jesus responded by saying, “It is given for you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom but it is not given for them to know” (Matthew 13:10-11). The Scriptures are written in such a way that only those who have a heart to walk with the Lord will understand them. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the teaching…. John 7:17. Therefore, the Scriptures are written in parables, hard sayings, types and shadows, and symbolic language. The reasoning of man cannot interpret the Scriptures correctly for they are spiritually discerned. The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. I Corinthians 2:14.
Even the average Christian can have great difficulty in understanding the Word of God. The Apostle Peter, in his epistle, confessed that some of Paul’s writings were hard to understand. Our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood. II Peter 3:15-16. The Scriptures give access into the world of God for all those who have a heart to know the Lord. To gain the access, though, we need to have a basic understanding of Scripture symbolism. What we will look at in this message is quite basic, yet it will open up many passages of Scripture for us.
John 15:5 I am the Vine, you are the branches: He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing.
Jesus is not really a vine and we are not really branches. This is a word picture to present certain spiritual truths. First, it speaks of oneness. The vine and the branches are so merged into one that it is impossible to tell where the vine ends and the branches begin. Therefore, we understand that Jesus is not speaking of all Christians regardless of spiritual growth, but only those who have become one with Him. In the text He is speaking to His disciples, who have spent about three years under His teaching. They were becoming as He is. The disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord. Matthew 10:24-25. We understand from this that the disciples were not becoming one with Him in agreement of a set of doctrines. They were becoming as He is in nature and spirit.
Secondly, it is the sap running through the vine to the branches that makes them alive. If the sap stops flowing, the branches will die. This means that we are dependent upon the life and spirit that flows through the Lord Jesus Christ to us. Just learning a set of doctrines and principles is not enough; His life must flow to us.
John 7:37-38 In the last
day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man
thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.
38 He that believeth on (“into”) Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
The word picture here is different. In the account of the vine and branches, the sap automatically flowed to the branches because of their oneness. In this word picture the one receiving His life flow must take the initiative to drink of Him. It doesn’t just automatically happen. In fact, Jesus saying, “If any man is thirsty” tells us that all are not thirsty for Him. Some are a little thirsty, some a little more, but very few are like “the hart that pants after the water brooks.” As the hart pants after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:1-2.
What happens to the one that drinks thirstily of the Lord? He also becomes a fountain of living water. I want you to notice the preposition “into.” The King James translation says, “He that believeth on Me.” The literal translation of the Greek, though, is “He that believeth into Me.” There is a big difference in believing “on” the Lord Jesus and believing “into” Him. When you believe “into” Him, then you become a branch in the Vine and there is an automatic flow of His life in you and through you.
Now notice what else happens when you drink of His life. The river of His life flowing into you becomes “rivers” flowing out of you. He that believeth into Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. The output is greater than the input. Listen! The Lord is Spirit and He needs channels for His life to flow through, and He can make the outflow greater than the inflow. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts. Haggai 2:9. Don’t misinterpret that. It is the glory that is greater, not the house. Whatever the inflow of His life is in you, it will be greater when it flows through you. In this way is the Lord glorified and admired in His saints (II Thessalonians 1:10).
Isaiah 58:11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
God wants us to be like a watered garden and a spring of water, but it won’t happen until you get thirsty. How thirsty do we need to be? We need to be in a drought. People do not drink of the Lord until they get very, very, very thirsty. A little taste or sip now and then won’t make us a watered garden or a spring of water. It takes a drought to make you really thirsty. That hart that panted after the water brooks was in a drought.
Notice that we have the same truth presented here as we did in John 7:37-38. There we drank and then the water of life flowed through us. Here we are a garden being watered and then we become a spring of water - first the inflow and then the outflow. There are many other word pictures presenting the same truth in the Scriptures; see if you can find some of them.
Alright, we see here that the many-membered Body of Christ is a watered garden. Let’s take a look at the first garden in the Bible, for it is another word picture presenting the same truth.
Genesis 2:8-10 And the Lord
God planted a garden eastward in Eden;
and there He put the man whom He had formed.
9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
The word picture here is very similar to the ones we read in John and Isaiah. In John those who were thirsty drank of the water of life (the Spirit of the Lord) and it flowed forth from them as rivers of water. In Isaiah the Body of Christ is pictured as a garden being watered by the Lord, which causes them to become a spring of water. In this word picture in Genesis there is a river that flows into the garden, which becomes four rivers when it flows out of the garden. The outflow of the water of life through the Body of Christ is pictured as four rivers, because His life is ministered to the four corners of the earth. It also represents the four aspects of Christ’s life and nature as presented by the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
There are many other word pictures in the Bible that present this same truth, but this is all we are going to discuss at this time. The message is clear: the Lord wants channels to flow through, and that is the purpose of the many-membered Body of Christ. His life shall flow, but it will only flow through them that drink of Him, and how much they drink is determined by how thirsty they are.
Copyright © 2004 by Henry DuBose