There is a River

by Phil Enlow

The following is taken from the TV broadcast transcript for March 31, 2013 which was in turn taken from a service at the Bible Tabernacle on September 30, 2012.

You know, last week we were looking in Ephesians chapter 4, and there was a scripture there that I passed over at the time. And I believe there is a relevance to what has been said this morning. Because, in a way, it paints the big picture into which our lives here this morning and our lives from day to day fit.

It’s talking about how, of course, how He…there’s one Lord, one faith, one baptism, what we’ve been called to, the fact that He is the One who enables us to do anything. We are helpless in ourselves. We have no abilities that can enhance His kingdom or to do anything. He doesn’t call people because they’re smart and gifted and say, you can help me out. He calls the weak. He calls those things that are not. He just calls people who are willing to allow Him to live in them and empower them to live a shared life, to become a part of a kingdom that’s eternal, to have that life fill us.

And that’s the hunger that I believe the Lord is stirring up this morning…that we understand why we’re here and what life is about so that we will cry out to be filled. But anyway, what he’s talking about here is, “What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?” (NIV).

Obviously, if He’s come down, at one time He was up. And so, it’s talking about the fact that he began…you go back to the beginning of the story and before the world was, you find a great Father who has a Son. And there’s perfect fellowship, there’s a shared life, and everything is just absolutely wonderful and awesome, and the love that they share is just indescribable. There’s no pain, no death, no nothing that we associate with this world.

But out of their heart grew a plan, a purpose to have a kingdom that was populated with sons and daughters of God. And so, the Father gave His Son the job of creating this universe. It was through the Son that He actually created what He did. And it was perfect! It was beautiful! There was no pain, no sorrow, no suffering, no taint of all the evil that we experience in this world. It was exactly what God wanted.

But he placed man, created in His image, with a will, with a choice to be made. At that point, sin had not entered in. He was innocent at that point. But he, obviously we know the story…what happened, he took his choice and went the wrong direction, and imbibed the spirit of Lucifer, who had already rebelled against God and said, I’m gonna be like the Most High, and that’s what man partook of. And so, he’s been trying to be his own god ever since and you see the result. It’s a world full of self-centered people who are, obviously, going to come in conflict one with another.

But God did not give up on His purpose. Thank God! That alone should tell us what kind of a God He is, that He is a God of love, He is a God of mercy! He’s a God who just doesn’t walk away like we might very well do, living for self as we do. His eye, His heart was still reaching out to His fallen creatures. And so, His Son was willing to come to this world. That’s the descent.

I know a lot of people will take this and say, well, He was here and He went down there somewhere. I don’t know. All I know is He came down. I know that for sure. He left Heaven’s glory! And He didn’t come down here to be some kind of a divine being. He came down here to live as a man. The scripture calls Him the last Adam.

Many of you remember Brother Thomas referring to this fact and saying that He was just like Adam was before Adam fell. I think that’s a pretty good description. He was not tainted with sin but He was fully human. And He faced the same choices that Adam did, but He made the right one. He didn’t do what He did with natural strength. He relied continuously upon His Father to strengthen Him, to enable Him to always make the right choices!

And ultimately when He presented His vessel to the Father at the Jordan River and laid down His earthly life, His Father came to live in Him. His Father is Spirit, by the way. Isn’t that what He said to the woman at the well? “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (KJV). He’s a Spirit. He inhabits eternity. Nobody’s ever seen Him. Nobody ever will see Him. He’s too great. But I’ll tell you who you do see. You see Jesus, who is the perfect representation of this God who is so great that we could never see Him. We can see Him in Jesus. And so He came to live in His Son.

And His Son went forth in the power, not just the power, but the character and the purpose of the One who lived in Him! And so we see Him going to the lowest of the low. Just like this woman, who was so…I mean, not only was she not Jewish, and God’s focus was upon the nation at that time…He intended, of course, to reach to the whole world through them, ultimately. But, here’s a woman who was shunned by her own society. Everybody knew what she was. She was simply caught by the power of her own lusts so where she ran for…she latched hold of one man, and then another, and then that didn’t do it, and another one, and another one.

Folks, if you follow your natural earthly desires and try to satisfy your…you try to scratch that itch, you will never get to the bottom of it. You were made for God. So was I. And there is nothing, no one—nothing that can fill us except Him, and His life. But Jesus demonstrated the mercy, the love, the graciousness of that awesome God by going to this woman, and reaching out with a heart of love and mercy.

I don’t even know if the woman understood what the cry of her heart was. You know, Ron talked about God responding to the cry of a heart. Sometimes the heart’s just crying, doesn’t even know why or what to ask for. But there’s a God who’s tuned to that frequency! He knows how to respond! He knows how to send help! And He sends it at just the right time, and that’s exactly what happened here.

And so, what He talked about there, too, was the fact that if you knew who I was, what? You’d ask me, and I’d give you living water. And of course, she didn’t quite get that. She thought, oh, wonderful. I won’t even have to come out here and draw water. He said no, you don’t have it. This is a well that’s going to be on the inside. It’s going to be a source that isn’t just somewhere out here. It’s not religion. This is not the practice of some kind of religion. This is divine life that comes to reside inside a human vessel and it flows and it nourishes, it satisfies the thirst that we all possess.

Now folks, we can get dry because we’re not really drawing from the well that’s there. And I’ll tell you, if you don’t have that well, you need to be crying out to God.

Religion will not cut it. I don’t care what you do, which church you go to, what you do. It doesn’t make a bit of difference if Jesus does not live in here. And that’s what it’s about. So anyway, we know about the…what it took. I mean, we know at least in part about what it took for Him to leave Heaven’s glory.

You know how he prayed in John 17. He’s talking about the prospect of returning, and he says, “…Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (KJV). That’s pretty plain. He was radiant with the very glory of the God of the Universe before the world was! That’s what He set aside so He could come and help the likes of you and me. Oh my, is He worthy of our praise? Yes!

My God! But doesn’t He also tell us through His servant Paul to, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God…” didn’t count that something to be grasped. He didn’t cling to that. He let it go. He emptied Himself and came down and became a servant! And more than that, He came down to be a servant who gave up His life in the most ignominious possible way, to do what it took to help us.

Oh my! Doesn’t that begin to show you and me the pathway to Glory? It’s not by trying to enhance ourselves and build ourselves up to something. It’s to let go of what we are! Everything that we were born into this world with, is corrupted by the very thing…the reason for which God will destroy this world. That was a fractured sentence but I think you get the idea.

We’re infected with the reason God’s gonna destroy this thing. And it’s not a matter of enhancing your life, God’s got to replace it. You need a different life. You need His life!

And if we’re gonna be different kind of people, it’s going to be His life that’s going to make that change possible. I don’t have it. I’m like Ron exactly. If you saw everything that’s wrong with me, you’d throw me out, too. But that’s all right, I’d do the same to you.

‘Cause there ain’t none of us worthy in ourselves to be here!

Our worthiness is His love and His choice!

He doesn’t save good people. He saves sinners. And I…I was going to say I’m happy to say I qualify. I’m not in the wrong sense. But I certainly, freely confess that that’s the category I occupy, and I praise Him! All the glory is His! He made the choice and I just praise Him! I just want to get it. I want to understand who I am, and why He made me, and where we’re going, and how we need to live right now so we can understand and cooperate.

But He came down, didn’t He? But thank God He didn’t stay down! I mean, not only did He come down, He went down into the grave! He became…for us and in our place, He took the wrath of God. He died the death that we deserve to die. But oh, He wasn’t conquered by that, was He?

And that’s the glorious thing. That shows us the power of the Life of God that’s able to…let’s just turn back to chapter 1 of Ephesians, and read something that we’ve read so many times. But Paul prayed in verse 17, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father ….” (NIV). It tells you the relationship between the two doesn’t it, by the way? “…The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation….” Now, you want to know something about God? You’re not smart enough to figure that out. Neither am I. I don’t need a PhD. I don’t need to pore over books and try to reason everything out. I need God to open my eyes.

Folks, I need, in one sense, in the proper sense, to be a child. I need to come to God and say, God I simply don’t know. I want to know but I have no power to know. I’m reaching up to You to open my eyes and my heart and my understanding. But Paul is praying that on behalf of the church. We need to pray that on behalf of each other.

Lord…I don’t want to straighten them out with rules, I want You to open eyes!

Because when eyes are open, then you’ve got something that comes from the inside out. It’s God at work to change hearts and lives. That’s what we need. That’s where we’re going with this. That He may give you that, why? “…So that you may know him better.” That’s the pathway to knowing God better. It’s God opening the eyes! God granting the gift to know!

You remember when Jesus was talking in John chapter 6 to so many that walked away. It wasn’t just the crowds. There were a lot of people that had been following Him, counting themselves His disciples, and so many of them left. There was a company that included the twelve that stuck around. Jesus addressed them…a much reduced company. But He said, will you also go away?

And, of course, Peter’s answer was, where are we gonna go? You have the words of eternal life. And Jesus recognized right there…My Father showed you that. That’s the reason you know that. That’s the reason you’re able to stay. It’s not that you comprehended with your natural mind the mysteries that I have just said. You know who I am. God showed you who I am, and the fact that I have the words of eternal life, and that’s the reason you’re sticking around.

That’s what makes the difference, folks! Everybody doesn’t have that, sooner or later you’re gonna go your way. You’re gonna feel like you’re smarter than whatever is going on and you’ve got a better handle on it, or your religion is better. It isn’t. Nor mine, for that matter. We need Him.

But anyway, “…So that you may know him better.” And this is not just an intellectual knowledge, this is a personal knowledge. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” That’s the deal. It’s got to be down here.

“…May be enlightened…” Why? “…In order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power…” Well, that’s power…there’s nothing that can compare. What do you compare His power to? Nothing! And what is that power expressed for? Is it just so that we can say, wow? No! “…His incomparably great power for us…” For us—for us! For us, folks!

Now, think about…now let’s get that down to the nitty-gritty. That’s for you, and you, and you, and you, and you and me! His power is for us to fulfill this purpose that he’s talking about…that He’s called us to. “That power is like the working.…” Now we can get a living demonstration of the same power that God has said is at work in us to fulfill the purpose.

How can you understand something about that? Let’s go to an example. “That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” So here, you see the ascent, don’t you? We began by talking about how Christ descended, but it also goes on, and I didn’t read that verse, He that descended is the same also that ascended on high…Praise God! This is the ascent.

He is in an exalted place right now, as a direct result of what He has accomplished, and as a direct result of what God has done, not just to Him, but for us, right here this morning. And that’s what He wants us to be on board with. “…Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church….”

Now He certainly is head over us, but He’s head over everything else, for us. I’ll tell you, if the Lord allows something in this world, don’t forget He’s head over it. When persecution comes, He’s head over that. Nothing will ever happen to God’s children that He is not the ultimate author of, for eternal good. Praise God!

“…The church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” And that’s kind of where he’s going. He came down. This amazing humiliation, in order to accomplish God’s purpose, but when He’d accomplished it, God raised Him up, “…gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God.”

But why did He do that? Again, is it so we can just say, wow? No! It has everything to do with us! “He who descended…” going back to chapter 4, verse 10, “…is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.” In order to fill all in all, isn’t that what the King James says? Whatever there’s going to be, ultimately, He’ll fill it.

You know, when Jesus was here, He was just a man. God lived in Him. He expressed the life of God as a man. But Jesus was in no position to fill other people, was He? You think about that. One man can’t fill another man. But I’ll tell you, when He ascended on high, He is so ‘one’ with the God of the universe that the life that is in Him is able to flow out, and He, by that Spirit, can be in every single heart here today.

You think about a day that’s coming when the life that we observed in Jesus will fill everything. You think it’s kind of important for someone to be filled with Him now? Because that’s where we’re at right now. We are nothing in ourselves, but we have the awesome privilege of having the life of the very God of the universe, to flow through His Son into every member of the Body of Christ. To open our hearts and say, oh God, I need more of You. I need You to fill me. I need You to flow into this area of my life. I need You to flow into that area of my life. I just need You, Lord! Oh God, just change me. God, deliver us.

You know, what Mike started out with was the human tendency to just build religion out of the work of God. That’s the last thing we need. We just need to walk with Him. We don’t need labels. We don’t need boundaries in the sense that religion builds them. Yes, truth, His spirit, that’s our boundary…but it’s the living presence of Christ. But I’ll tell you, on the individual level, we need Him, folks.

If this were…and what’s been said this morning is so true. This world is going to Hell. And I won’t get into all that, but I’m just gonna say this…that this world is absolutely headed for catastrophe, for destruction. Everything about this old creation has been corrupted, because it was placed under the dominion of the first man and that first man turned to sin, and it just infected everything. And God is going to do away with it.

Folks, if you cling to your life in this world, you will lose it. That’s pretty plain. Jesus said that in so many words. Whoever clings to your life in this world, you will lose it. Whoever gives up their life for Jesus Christ and His kingdom…different scriptures say the same thing, what happens? You’ll keep it for eternity.

And so the question for us this morning is, where are we with relation to this simple truth? Does Christ live in you at all? If He doesn’t, you better cry out to God! God loves you! He wants to come in to live! The very purpose for which Jesus was exalted, was so that He could fill you! He can do something now that He couldn’t do when He was here as a man. You remember when Jesus spoke about the coming of the Holy Spirit, and John makes the comments that the Holy Spirit was not yet given. Why?

Jesus wasn’t yet glorified. You remember on the day of Pentecost, when the disciples…of course, a few days before had observed Jesus literally rising from the ground. Wouldn’t that be a sight? Talk about being something convincing, they met the risen Christ. Not only that, they saw Him rise up from the ground, and float up into the air, and disappear in the clouds. And then all of a sudden, there’s an angel standing there explaining what’s going on. Man!

And He’d said, wait until I pour out the Spirit upon you. Then you’ll have power to go out and be my witnesses. Wait! Well, they waited. And there they were, and I believe in the Temple on that day. And the Spirit fell upon them. They stood up and they began to praise God in the languages of all the people that were around.

And then Peter stood up and said, this is that which God has spoken. He said, you crucified Him. God has made Him Lord and Christ. And the evidence is, He has shed forth this. You see the connection? The fact that He is in Heaven gives Him the ability to be everywhere at once by the Spirit of God. He is so one with His Father that He can be everywhere and that life will flow through Him into every nook and cranny of the New Creation. Can you imagine a creation, and the life of everything, every blade of grass, every piece of fruit, every person, is the same Spirit that we observe in Jesus Christ? That’s where this is going, folks. And that’s why here today…

Praise God! What a hope we have! What a picture it is! He came down so that He could go up. He went up so that He could come down, by the Spirit, and fill everything. And that’s the purpose of God in simple language. That’s what’s gonna be fulfilled. And everything outside of that is gone.

You go to the end of the Book of Revelation, and I’ll just drop this in. You don’t find some corner of the universe where people are screaming. You find all of that’s passed away. You find out that there is a brand new Heavens and a new Earth wherein dwells righteousness. There’s no more pain, no more tears, no more anything. It’s filled with the life of God. That’s where this is going. Folks, shouldn’t we be on board with that now?

As a people, should not we come together and simply drink from His life, and share His life one with another, and just say, oh God, I need to be filled more. I need to be…being made ready for what You have called us to. Oh, praise God!

I sense in many ways, the same thing that Mike began with. There’s a hunger and yet, I look inside and sometimes I don’t feel the hunger that is strong enough that I ought to feel. I’ll tell you, I need God to give me everything. I need Him to build the hunger. I need Him to fill the hunger. I need…I just need Him.

Oh God, we are faced with things that are totally beyond us. No religion is gonna fix what’s wrong, just His presence. You know, the scripture we referred to from Ezekiel that talks about everywhere the river shall run, everything shall live. There’s a song been made out of that. And it’s a river that flows out of the Temple of God. I’ll tell you, there’s a Temple there. There’s One who has carried His blood into the very Temple, into God’s presence, done away with our sins.

And because they are gone, He is free to share His life. There’s a river flowing out. It’s here this morning. Oh, I pray that everyone will be drinking of that. Not just enjoying it in an external sense. But I mean, really internalizing it. Is it really residing in your heart? Is the hope of this Gospel residing in your heart? If it is, what are we living for? God help us! God help us to realize how desperately we need Him.

And to cry out to Him and to learn to know Him better, because that’s what Paul was talking about. Oh, I want you to be filled with that wisdom so that you will know Him better—know Him more. be more in tune with what He’s after. What an awesome thing. “He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens…” Why? “…In order to fill the whole universe.”

Well, it’s starting right here, right now, with a people that God is calling out of a lost, broken world. He’s gonna fill us first. And then, there’s gonna come a day when He’s gonna pull back the veil and put His sons and daughters on display and say, this is what I’ve been doing. This is what my purpose has been about. I have transformed people who were lost, broken sinners into sons and daughters of the living God! And now there is a brand new universe I have prepared, and they’re gonna live with me forever. Praise God! What a hope that God has given to us! Praise God!

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