Living Waters

It is not unusual to encounter apologists for non-Christian religions who are eager to discredit the Holy Scriptures. These folks seek out apparent 'errors' in the written Word, and gleefully toss them into the ring, confident that the Bible-believing Christian will have no response for them. A while back, an apologist for the apostate Roman Catholic Church tossed out a series of these supposed errors, challenging me to prove him wrong. In my next several posts in this forum, I shall deal with one of his challenges.

The Question: How about John 7:38, where Jesus says that "Whoever believes in me, as Scripture says, 'Rivers of living water will flow from within him'". I can't seem to find that particular quote in any other scripture. Are we missing some scripture? If we are, then scriptures are not complete. If we aren't, then there seems to be a contradiction.

My Response: Why is it nec essary that those words be repeated in another passage? Is it not enough that Jesus said them once? Is the validity of a passage determined by how many times it, or something very similar, is repeated in Scripture? One of the places a reference to "living water" does not appear is in the fourth chapter of John, where we find Messiah alone at a well with a Samaritan woman. He asks her for a drink and she is taken aback, for Jews had no commerce with Samaritans in those days.

9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
– John 4:9-15

The reference to living water in verse 10 harkens back to the Old Testament, where this term has important metaphorical significance. In Jeremiah 2:13, The Lord decries the disobedient Jews for rejecting Him, the "fountatin of living waters." Old Testament prophets looked forward to a time when "living waters shall flow from Jerusalem." (Zechariah 14:8 and Ezekiel 47:9). This Old Testament metaphor spoke of the knowledge of God and His grace, which provides cleansing, spiritual life, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Check out what the Lord had to say on the subject at Isaiah 1:16-18; 12:3; 44:3 and Ezekiel 36:25-27. The Beloved Disciple applies these themes to Jesus as the living water, which is symbolic of eternal life, mediated by the Holy Spirit from Him. (see also verses 4:14, 6:35, and 7:37-39). Christ used the woman's need for physical water to sustain life in this arid region in order to serve as an object lesson for her need for spiritual transformation.

As might be expected, the Catholic apologist was not willing to accept my response to his Living Water challenge to the inerrancy of Scripture. He came back with a clarification of his original challenge.

The Challenge: Ron, I did not say that scripture had no reference to "living water" elsewhere. In the passage I quoted, Jesus gives an actual scriptural quotation, i.e., 'Rivers of living water will flow from within him.' My question/statement was that this scripture passage does not appear anywhere else in scripture. Generally when a scripture verse is quoted in the New Testament by anyone, it is found in the OT. This one is not.

I understand that it is most likely a transcribing error. But again to go back to your original statement {in another post} that I was replying to: “There is an impartial and perfect arbitrator: the Bible.”

My Response: I find it interesting that you are going to such lengths to "prove" the Bible unreliable. Nothing you have suggested in any way detracts from the authority and inerrancy of Scriptures as given by God or enhances the authority of the Romish church. Are you an enemy of the Bible? Or do you merely seek to subject God's Holy Scriptures to the authority of Rome?

BTW, are you aware that in the Catholic Douay-Rheims translation, John 7:38 is translated into exactly the same words as found in the KJV? In that both CHristian and Catholic bibles translate this verse identically, does this mean that the Catholic translaction is also to be considered unreliable?

Let the words of theologian John Gill provide the responses to your challenge to . John 7:38:

Ver. 38. He that believeth on me, &c. Which explains what is meant by coming to Christ, and drinking; for these acts are no other than for a man to go out of himself to Christ, and live by faith on him, and his grace. To which what follows is a great encouragement; as the Scripture hath said: some refer these words to the preceding clause concerning believing in Christ, which the writings of the Old Testament speak of, as in #De 18:15, Isa 28:16, Hab 2:4, and the sense is, that he that believes on Christ, the object of faith the Scripture points at, and in him, as that directs and requires; that believes in him as the mighty God, and as the prophet, priest, and King, and as the only foundation of the church, and lives by faith upon him, as just men do, then out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, though rather they belong to what follows; and do not design any particular place of Scripture; for no such one is to be found, where the following passage is expressed in so many words; but all those Scriptures which speak of grace, under the metaphors of water, and abundance of water, as rivers and floods of water, and of the effusion of the Holy Spirit, under such figurative expressions, such as #Isa 41:17,18 43:20 44:3 58:11 Joe 2:28. Hence the Syriac version reads in the plural number, "as the Scriptures hath said"; referring to more than one: "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water"; the grace of the Spirit of God is signified by water, because it is of a cleansing and purifying nature, as faith and hope are, having to do with the blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin; and because it fructifies and causes the saints, as trees of righteousness, to grow, and bring forth fruit; and especially because it is cooling to those who are scorched with the heat of a fiery law, and very refreshing to thirsty souls: and it is called "living" water, because by it dead sinners are quickened, drooping saints are revived, and comforted; spiritual life in them is maintained and supported, and it springs up to, and issues in eternal life: and it is expressed by "rivers" of living water, because of the abundance of it in regeneration, justification, and pardon; it is grace for grace, abundance of grace believers receive from Christ; and from him, in whom those large measures of grace are, they "flow out" again, even "out of his belly": from within him, out of his heart, the seat of it, by his lips, both in prayer to God, and in conversation with the saints, to whom he communicates his rich experiences of grace, to their comfort, and the glory of God: for grace is of a diffusive and communicative nature; out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh: and also it flows out by his life and conversation, which is sober, righteous, and godly; and this the grace of God teaches and influences: and this grace, as it is permanent and lasting itself, even perpetual, and always abiding; so it continues to flow, and to show itself in its acts and effects, in one way or another. The Jews ought not to find fault with Christ's using such expressions, mystically understood, since they, comparing Moses and the Messiah together, say, “as the first Redeemer caused a well to spring up, so the last Redeemer shall cause waters to spring up, according to #Joe 3:18 {Midrash Kohelet, fol. 63. 2.}–John Gill’s Expositor.

Greek scholar A.T. Robertson writes of this passage:

{He that believeth on me} . . .. Nominative absolute as is not uncommon. {The scripture} . . .. No precise passage can be quoted, though similar idea in several (#Isa 55:1; 58:11; Zec 13:1; 14:8; Eze 47:1; Joe 3:18). Chrysostom confines it to #Isa 28:16 by punctuation (only the nominative absolute as the Scripture). {Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water} . . .. Some ancient Western writers connect [drink] of verse #37 with [The one believing] in verse #38. By this arrangement . . .(his) . . . is made to refer to Christ, not to the believer. Burney argues that [belly] is a mistranslation of the Aramaic (fountain, not belly) and that the reference is to #Eze 47:1. C.C. Torrey refers to #Zec 14:8. But the Eastern writers refer . . . (his) to the believer who not only quenches in Christ his own thirst, but becomes a source of new streams for others (#Joh 4:14). It is a difficult question and Westcott finally changed his view and held [him] to refer to Christ. [will flow] is future active indicative of , old verb, to flow, here only in the N.T.–A. T Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament. Vol V, © 1932/1960 Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Baker Book House edition, p. 131

The Catholic now claims that he has made his point: What has been shown here is that Scriptures require human intervention to properly address some of the inconsistencies in the Bible; [My emphasis] and therefore the Bible does not always interpret the Bible! If the Bible can't interpret the Bible on some of the obvious inconsistencies, then we cannot assume that the Bible can interpret the Bible on all other "major soteriological" issues!

My response: I imagine you would be willing to accept that the humans of the Magisterium are able to interpret the Bible properly. I find it interesting that you are unwilling to accept the authority of the Bible without human intervention at least some of the time. Yet you are quite willing to accept the interpretations of the Magisterium, even though you must filter their "illumination" through your own set of presuppositions and prejudices. Your argument seems to say that we don't have the means to recognize the infallibility of God's Word directly, but somehow we *do* have the means to recognize some institution as being infallible in itself. Interesting manifestation of applied thought control. Reckon I’ll continue to place my trust with God’s Holy Scriptures, inerrant in the original autographs, and not Rome’s Magisterium, full of error in darned near everything.

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