Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 26 Apr 2015
(Before the service Mthokozisi Zwane gave his testimony.He got converted at a young age and lived for God when he was young. He was only the second black head boy of his school and he did well at school. After school he went to the University of Johannesburg, Wits, and there he also attended a certain church where they taught him that what was sin to the first man is not necessarily sin to another. So they concluded that a child of God can drink alcohol and booze. By the end of that same evening he was drunk. From that time in 2007 one can almost draw a graph of how his life went straight down. He still managed to pass his first year of university but in the second year he failed every subject, and got a letter from the dean that he will be expelled unless he improved his studies. But it went worse and worse. Eventually he used dagga and other drugs. His mother also died during that time. He also got a letter from the university that he was expelled in 2010. His father appealed but to no avail. His father was a preacher and they travelled from place to place. His mother’s life insurance paid out, and each of them received something. With a job and this extra cash and friends who were well-off he started to use stronger drugs, like cocaine etc. But his performance at his work went down, and he also started to steal things at home. They sent him to a rehab, but it didn’t help and he was later jailed. In less than 48h after his release he was back to his old ways and committed an even more serious crime. Some relatives intervened and he wasn’t jailed. At another time he stole a play station from a friend during a get-together. These friends decided that they’re going to teach him a lesson and started to beat him, but he managed to escape and return the play station.
Finally in 2013 he heard of “Umphakathi Ukhathazekile” (Concerned Young People) and arrived here at KwaSizabantu.
At first he was very upset with the rules that no tobacco was allowed, but after a few days things started to get better as he communed with the other young men that’s been helped. Then the opportunity arose that he either further his studies at the mission or at the University of Zululand. He decided to go to the university, but as soon as he started at the university he was back to his old ways. He realised his mistake and decided to come back to KwaSizabantu and admit that he had failed and decided to seek God. In the few months that he sought God here at KwaSizabantu he experienced God’s working in his life. The battle we are fighting is not a physical battle but a spiritual battle, therefore the weapons we use must be spiritual. He has been to all kinds of psychologists and psychiatrists but they couldn’t help him, but the God he served while still at school, He is the one that stretched out His hand and got hold of him and delivered him again and from now on his hope and trust will be in Him alone.)
37 And in the last day of the great feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
38 He who believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
39 (But He spoke this about the Spirit, which they who believed on Him should receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Before the revival I was troubled, for I would go around holding services and many would repent. But after 2 or 3 years when I return to visit them again I would find the Christians in disunity. But we read in Acts how the early Christians were of one heart and soul (Acts 4:32). But what I found among the Christians were in opposition to this, the one would criticize the next; the other would complain that they’re not treated well or greeted properly. I knew that revival wouldn’t start if things didn’t come right among the Christians first, for the Bible says that judgment must begin in the house of God (1Pet 4:17).
The reason the Word of God, the Bible, doesn’t cover the earth, is not because of the heathen, but because of the Christians that aren’t living according to the Word of God. Jesus said that the one who believes in Him as the Scripture has said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of Living Waters. Rivers of water cannot be stopped. You might try to stop a river by building a restraining wall in the river, but the water will only build up on the one side and eventually break the wall in a massive flood, or the water will rise up and flow over the wall.
In our text we read that on the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out. In the Greek the word is “krazo” for “cried out”. That word doesn’t just mean to call aloud as you would call a friend, instead it means a cry coming from a broken heart; one that comes forth out of great pain. Jesus stood up on the last day that everyone might see Him. At the beginning of this chapter, we find that Jesus was not in the area of Judea or Jerusalem, but in a Gentile area, hiding there from the Jews that sought to kill Him. Can one grasp this, that the believers were the ones that sought to kill Him, and He had to hide among the heathen! The heathen were better than the people of God! Can one fathom such a thing?
How true it was when Jesus said that they will come from the east and west and feast with Abraham at the tables of heaven but the children of the kingdom will be cast out (Matt 8:11)! It should cause every Christian to prayerfully examine themselves whether they won’t perhaps be of those cast out while the heathen enter heaven.
Jesus loves to see a wilderness turned into a garden, because that’s what happens when you introduce water into a wilderness. Consider Maqhoko, which is a dry wilderness, but when water was used there for irrigation, it was turned into a fruitful area, a paradise.
From where will this water come for the wilderness of the world? From those filled with the Spirit of God, where His Living Waters flow from them.
When Jesus’ brothers asked Him whether He was going to the feast, He answered them that their time was at anytime, and they could go whenever they wanted. They lived their own independent lives. Whatever they felt like doing at any moment, that’s what they did. God’s Spirit wasn’t guiding their lives. They were creatures of habit. Jesus though had an ear to hear what the Father said. He said to them that His time wasn’t yet, for His Father hadn’t yet spoken to Him to go. But towards the end of the feast He was in the crowd, even among those Jews that wanted to kill Him. But He was speaking from a heart breaking for them. He saw them, supposedly believers, but without any rivers of Life. That’s when He stood up in the midst of the crowd with a loud agonizing voice, crying out to them.
Do rivers of Living Water flow from your life? I remember how, as we prayed for God the Holy Spirit to come down, I would wake up at night in wet perspiration, my pillow drenched. I read in the Bible how the early church grew and the rivers of Living Waters flowed, people getting saved daily and being added to the church, and my cry was for God to work in the same way.
During the early years of the revival a black girl got converted and she was burning for the Lord, bringing people to the Lord weekly. We visited my brother on his farm, and gathered together under the trees, praying together and singing choruses. I saw this girl standing afar off leaning against a tree and looking at us. I pointed her out to the others and we called her to us. She said to us that she was troubled, for week after week she brought people to the Lord Jesus, but for the last 3 weeks she wasn’t able to bring anyone to Him. She was deeply troubled about this. When last have you brought a soul to Christ? Are you agonizing because of that? Such a converted heathen girl will condemn you on judgment day. Maybe it doesn’t trouble you, and you don’t even realize that you’re on your way to hell? Jesus said that if you believe in Him as the Scripture says, rivers of Living Water will flow out of you. Is that true of you?
Can you now understand why Jesus stood up at that feast and cried out from a broken heart, and He didn’t care whether they would kill Him or not. His cry was one out of agony, like a wounded animal. If you’ve heard Him once cry out like that, your whole life would be revolutionized. He cries in agony seeing believers without the rivers of Living Water.
We also read that nobody sought his own and said that anything was his own. They had everything in common. They weren’t communists, but they had everything in common. They didn’t have their own things at heart. Those Christians had the same taste. They considered the next one higher than themselves. Jesus said the greatest must be the smallest. Agape love doesn’t seek its own, but what is the other’s (1Cor 10:24). Is that understood? It will be terrible if you leave without having heard and continue in your selfish way. Then you will be doomed.
We read in Timothy of evil times, people being lovers of themselves, seeking their own. Having the form of godliness but denying the power thereof (2Tim 3:1-5).
When I was still praying for revival I had a vision of people on three different levels. The bottom level was full of people crowding around each other. The next level there were fewer, but still many. At the top I saw just a few, but they had faces that shone and sparkled like the faces of angels. I didn’t understand it at that time. But after a time I understood that those at the bottom were the unbelievers, in the middle lukewarm Christians. But those at the top having faces shining with the glory of the Lord, were those on fire for God, loving Him with all their heart, mind and soul; as I saw this I cried to God to make me one of those at the top. Jesus said, “o that you were either hot or cold”. That means that the lukewarm ones are worse to God than the heathen! He says because you’re lukewarm I will spew you out (Rev 3:15).