Choosing Salvation; December 22, 2021

Isaiah 12:3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

I can still remember clearly how, though not exactly when, my attention was first drawn to this verse. Andrae Crouch was talking in between songs on a praise and worship tape, and he quoted this verse. I was struck by it, and at first wasn’t sure it was from the Bible since I didn’t remember running into it, and by that point I had already read through the Bible a few times. It still resonates in me, however, and I think the meaning is important. The Japanese here says “springs” rather than “wells,” implying a more active provision, but in either case, what stands out to me is that you have to draw the water of salvation yourself. It’s not at all that we can save ourselves, but our will, our volition, is definitely involved. As the secular proverb says, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Salvation has been made available to all mankind through the blood of Christ on the cross, but each person must first know that they need salvation, and then choose to repent and receive it. The work of evangelism is first to let people know they are headed for destruction, and then to let them know that salvation is available. It is not to hit them over the head with a Bible until they “get saved.” As Paul pointed out so memorably to the Romans, “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:12-15) Receiving salvation requires a fundamental humility that is all too often lacking. Men in particular like to feel they have “done it themselves,” when eternal salvation is the ultimate example of something you can’t do for yourself. However, once you recognize both your need and God’s supply, drawing the water of salvation is a thing of joy indeed.

Ministering in Japan, I run into various barriers to evangelism. In the first place, Buddhism has no real concept of salvation. The highest good is Mu, nothingness, an extinction of self. Only a few ascetic monks actually pursue that, but the fallout of that sort of nihilism is that very few Japanese really believe that salvation is available in any form. Materialism is king, regardless of how “spiritual” things might seem. The devil has been working for many years to bring about that state of affairs in the US, too, and he has been sadly successful. I am never to give up, but continue speaking the truth in love, living as an example of the Gospel I preach. If I don’t rejoice in the salvation I have received, why would anyone else want it? I have already shared the Gospel in three different class Christmas parties, to widely varying response. I can’t force anyone to drink! We have the Christmas Eve service coming up in two days. I have no idea who will show up, but whoever does will be demonstrating at least an inkling that they can get something good here. I am to share the Gospel as simply and as joyfully as possible, so that as many as will may choose to drink.

Father, thank You for Your salvation and for the privilege of sharing the Good News of that salvation with others. I pray that Your Spirit would work through me and around me to break down all the lying barriers and set people free to repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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