by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
Summary: The Holy Spirit can flow from you as living waters, as a river of life, that brings the life-giving touch of God to those around you.
John 7:37-39 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
•• Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would “flow” from within believers like “rivers of living water” (38, KJV).
• A remarkable illustration of these God-given rivers of the living water of life may be found in Ezekiel, chapter 47 (see below).
• Let’s read that inspiring Scripture portion and then see some of the great applications of that water of life in our spiritual lives in the 21st century.
Ezekiel 47:1-12 The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar....  As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep.  He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist.  He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in — a river that no one could cross.  He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river.  When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river.  He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh.  Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.  Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds — like the fish of the Great Sea.  But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt.  Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”
•• This is a river of life-giving water flowing from God’s altar in His temple.
## The key verse (vs. 9) says: “Where the river flows everything will live.”
•• Remember Jesus’ words, likening the Holy Spirit to “rivers of living water.”
•• I suggest that a person can take five approaches to this living water:
(1) Stay on the bank entirely = never get saved.
(2) Step in ankle-deep [vs. 3] = receive the initial presence within of the Holy Spirit at salvation, but no more.
(3) Wade in knee-deep [vs. 4] = minister as best you can with the Holy Spirit in you from salvation, but without the baptism with the Holy Spirit that is described in Acts 1:5,8; 2:4.
(4) Wade in waist-deep [vs. 4] = receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit and begin to feel the “flow” of God’s river.
(5) Enter living waters that are over your head [vs. 5] = you no longer control things; the Holy Spirit is fully in charge.
•• [vs. 6] “Son of man, do you see this?” — The hasty answer is, “Of course.” But think...do you really see this?
• The early Church, full of this vibrant, life-giving water, brought life everywhere it went. Do we?
•• An intellectualized Gospel brings people in ankle-deep at best.
• The Pentecostal experience may bring us in as far as waist-deep.
• But the overwhelming life of the Spirit is found in those like the Bible’s writers who were “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).
•• That is, where we are baptized and filled with the Spirit, but also fully yielded and following the Spirit.
## [vs. 9] “Where the river [of God’s Spirit] flows, everything will live.”
•• [vs. 8] “When it empties into the [dead] sea, the water there becomes fresh.”
• All that is now stagnant, stale, and lifeless can be brought to fresh and vibrant life by the Holy Spirit.
•• [vs. 9] “Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows.”
• As in 3,000 at Pentecost! (Acts 2:1,41) “Swarms” come to the Lord when the living water is flowing.
•• [vs. 10] “The fish will be of many kinds.” — Don’t limit your vision. The living water can bring life to “many kinds” of people — Muslims, Hindus, goddess worshipers, unbelievers of every sort. Plenty of fish will end up in God's nets as the harvest of souls is drawn in.
•• [vs. 11] “But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh.” — a warning to us not to let the living waters stagnate. Keep your spiritual life alive, fresh, and vibrant.
•• [vs. 12] “Fruit trees of all kinds ... will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them.”
• Want to bear fruit? The fruit of souls won? the fruit of disciples growing in God? the fruit of lives dramatically changed? —
(1) Wade into the Holy Spirit's waters over your head.
(2) Yield yourself totally to God’s flow.
(3) Let those waters flow to others.
(4) “Where the river flows everything will live.”
©2001, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.